January 30th, 2003


After I got mugged, I started to feel pretty, again

Wednesday woke me to a good morning wake up call from SBX. She knows I'm feeling shaky about the Marvel massacre, which was still pending and driving me quite mad. SBX had a pal with a 13-year old kid who is a budding cartoonist and asked me advice about how to start making comix, what to do, and where to get published. Fuck if I knew, so I wrote something like this:

At age 13, I'm sure the kid is still learning and playing with the form [heck, at age 35, I'm STILL learning and playing with the form]. So, I would tell him to soak up as many comix as humanly possible. Tackle all genres. Never focus on one thing. That will stunt his interests and growth.

Read, read, read. Draw, draw, draw. Write, write, write. Make comix all the time.

AND, while doing all that, you NEVER want comic books to be your sole influence -- so look at life, art, and other narrative forms [especially movies and books which flex various narrative structures and tools] to start down the path for creating a unique voice in 'young Skywalker.' Otherwise, you're aping your favorite draftsman & authors, and that's just no good.

Re: getting published now? I hear that Nickelodeon Magazine and Walt Disney Adventures Magazine are perfect for young kids and often publish their drawings. Subscribe to the magazines. MAD Magazine was my vice of choice. If the kid is REALLY a comix superstar, then maybe he could draw a 1-page comic and try to get it published. Otherwise, don't worry about marketing and commerce. We all get to that point in our lives when we become less personally creative and more business oriented. I wish I had the luxury to draw what I wanted to when I wanted to, but now I have bills and more responsibility, ergo, no time for such expression. Tell him to take this time to learn and grow and make a million mistakes. All those mistakes are going to make a great artist, someday. I promise.

Draw, draw, draw. Write, write, write. Make mini comix. Xerox, fold, and staple them together. Show them to everybody. Give them to everybody. Mail them to your favorite cartoonists. Go to comix conventions and GIVE them to your favorite cartoonists. And, if you really think you're at a professional place, show your work to publishers, heed advice, and roll with the criticism until somebody bites!

After I wrote that I discovered a hip POV on making comix online:

My assistant, the ever efficient and suave, Mike Fiffe came over and erased & finished off the blacks on my inked pages. I inked a couple of more while we listened to The Comics Journal's C.C. Beck online interview from 1983. Beck is one of my five favorite cartoonists of all time [w/Jack Kirby, Alex Toth, Frank Miller, and Chester Brown, rounding off the Top 5 list]. We took a lunch break and I cooked Fiffe chicken sausages in pork gravy w/gnocchi and corn. I penciled & lettered AIM TO DAZZLE/pp1, and my pal, Doug Brod called from The Sundance Film Festival to tell me how much he loved the AMERICAN SPLENDOR the Movie.

I guess I can truly take the credit for sparking the AS comic into the AS movie since I made the introductions between AMERICAN SPLENDOR creator/writer, Harvey Pekar and Good Machine movie producer, Ted Hope. Long story short: I was an assistant to Hope back in '96, and, after attempting to gain Pekar's attention for years, finally got the shot to draw my first Pekar story in ‘99. Pekar has always been down and out in Cleveland, Ohio and you can read all about his miserable life from his annually published comic book series. Hope has always been an underground/alternative comix fan and loves Pekar. One thing led to another and, before you knew it, hands were being shook and contracts being signed. Pekar wrote about this parlay [which I drew] in a story called "Payback." To give me a little bit of props Pekar, Hope, and the director team signed me on to draw a page for the movie. Ironically, my art is the example for the type of comix Pekar CAN’T write and ultimately despises. When time came for a style of artwork that reflects the type of genre Pekar ATTEMPTED to write one night and literally 'gave up' trying, instead, manifesting autobiographical comix with buddy R. Crumb, my art style/sensibilities was chosen [as well as, I suppose, a way to give me some cinematic props] to meet that graphic anti-sensibility. Over the summer of ’02, I met with Hope and the directors, watched 20-rough cut minutes of some scenes that pertained to the page I would draw [movie looks great!], and we settled on something that would look like a cross between FLASH GORDON and BILLY DOGMA, sci-fi yet underground, since Pekar would never have read ARCHIE or SUPERMAN. Anyway, I look forward to the movie and pray that it garners oodles of attention.

I biked over to SBX's house to eat dinner with her and the kids and finally catch up on some quality time with my lady. She made her delicious sesame tofu dish and, after dishes were washed, I went downstairs to watch the second episode of AMERICAN IDOL [to kill time, mind you], while SBX got the kids bathed and put to bed. The Haze stole 10-minutes of IDOL w/me, only to get caught in its mesmerizing web. Infatuated, she wanted to stay up past her bedtime and SBX insisted that she go to sleep. The Haze had a snit. They went upstairs to settle, and between Simon and the IDOL judges crying from looking for contenders and the tears and screaming coming from above, I was feeling in a flux. I wasn't particularly happy to be sitting by my lonesome, watching an updated version of fucking STAR SEARCH, a show I never liked in the first place, and yet I didn't feel I had the right to go upstairs and help SBX out with her situation. I know what it was like to want to stay up late and watch TV and hang with the adults and being told that I couldn't. Being a kid has its advantages and disadvantages. This was clearly a disadvantage. SBX came back downstairs depressed by The Haze's bad behavior and it sunk her into a deep funk. One I couldn't get her out of. And so, there I was again, the ineffectual boyfriend who rubs a shoulder to no avail. SBX crawled back upstairs blue and I was back on my bike, riding home in the black, bitter cold. I almost froze my face off. When I got home my face was red with wind and ice burns. Numb, I watched my local pal/author Jonathan Ames make David Letterman chuckle on The Late Show and taped it for my sweetheart, who misses out on most things post 11PM.

On Thursday, I took a small break from my pending Marvel chores to ink pp1 of AIM TO DAZZLE and went into Manhattan to drop off NIGHT FALLS 2/pp18-22 at the Marvel offices. My editor, Andy Lis, had to split for a client lunch, so I couldn't get to speak with him about the fate of our comic series. This was incredibly frustrating. A bad sign, I was starting to lose faith. I spoke to FF/Thor editor, Tom Brevoort briefly about 'Thor Smash' and potential work. I split Marvel and walked up towards DC Comics and went into Dunken Donuts and sat down to decompress. I was losing my knees. I drank my coffee and ate my donut across the street from David Letterman's LATE NIGHT theatre where Ames had won over America with his baldhead and perverted yet delicate constitution, the night before.

At DC Comics, I met up w/JLA editor Dan Rasplar and he dug my current wares, lining me up with a potential FIRESTORM gig. I then visited Special Projects editor, Joey Cavalieri, and we spoke about the short OMAC story Bertozzi and I pitched him for BIZARRO COMICS 2. I said hello to Wonder Woman editor, Ivan Cohen, Superman editor Mike Carlin, Batman editor Bob Schreck, Birds of Prey editor Lysa Hawkins, and Doom Patrol editor Andy Helfer. I met Legion of Superheroes editor Steve Wacker, who was a really kind guy and a Park Slopian/Food Coop cohort, to boot. He was aware of my indie-comix work and was a big fan of Bertozzi's, as well. We knocked around the idea of developing a METAMORPHO comic, and perhaps some other work. Maybe OMAC? Finally, I sat with Batman Adventures/Loony Tunes editor Joan Hilty, who really wants me to draw some BA covers and we talked about me drawing a Gabe Soria/Batman story I pitched her awhile ago. Overall, my visit to DC was fruitful and a good way to get editors to think about me.

I was starting to feel pretty again.

I finally got a hold of my Marvel editor, Lis about the fate of NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET, on my cell phone and he got me hip to the new spin on things. Seems that the entire drama was equal parts: stupid "no flashback" policy, a slight restructuring/shuffling of scenes so that the "origin" starts the story rather than natural discovering it, a tweaking of Dorkin's script, and, what I perceived to be a backlash of disgruntled head-honcho agro-control and some unnecessary saving of face. So, we got hit hard but nothing we couldn’t recover from. The book was back on the boards and chugging along. I felt alive yet rattled. We had acquiesced to politics, but not without a fight, and now I was walking back to the drawing board with a few bruised knuckles. I’d lost faith in Marvel but still fond for the franchise, and more importantly, love for the story.

I got home and caught up on some emails before my dad, Manny, and their pal/nutritionist Larry swang by for some heat, company, and dinner. Dad took 10-minutes to climb my three flights of stairs and looked awful. He was obese and his clothes smelled bad. He gave me a yellow cardboard square that had four drawings glued onto it. Drawings I illustrated for an article he wrote when I was 10-years old for the 79th Street Block Association Newsletter. It brought back some nice memories of how things used to be and could have stayed had monsters been kept at bay.

We ordered chinky-winky and watched select scenes from the Saturday Night Fever DVD. Afterwards, I played some torch songs and standards as crooned by Dinah Washington, Mel Torme, Blossom Dearie, Arthur Prysock, and Little Jimmy Scott. It set the mood right nice. Soon, it was time for me to split to SBX's for a little R&R and I got a peek at my dad's new Jeep Cherokee. I set Manny up with bedding for the futon and BLADE 2, for viewing after he dropped my dad and Larry off at the 1-Train on Court Street.

I hopped the F-train to SBX's house and we watched the taped Ames interview on Letterman and laughed at our budding friend. We recounted the day and snuggled up in her bedroom. A few smiles later and I shushed her to sleep, skipped out back into the blizzard and home to mint chocolate chip ice cream and Manny's double-feature movie choice: THE RE-ANIMATOR.


Early FRIDAY, SBX split from La Guardia airport to Dallas, TX for work. It was our weekend sans kids and she wouldn't be back until late Sunday night. Damn. So I drank coffee w/Manny and talked a little bit about how dangerously cold East Hampton was and how difficult it was to share space with my father.

Oh yeah?

I wrote follow up emails to the DC editors and pitched some ideas to Steve Wacker [METAMORPHO, and OMAC, specifically]. I sat down at the art table and finished inking pp1 of AIM TO DAZZLE. It felt good to draw old BILLY DOGMA again. I spent the rest of the afternoon penciling half of NIGHT FALLS 2/pp23, feeling a tad apathetic and demoralized by the whole Marvel debacle with the series and I couldn't get my mojo working.

Manny came back to sleep over [again] and we watched the movie SIGNS w/Eric Saul, and Lena. SIGNS, was weak and would have worked so much better if the threat of the aliens had never been seen, only ever hinted at. That way, the movie could have solely been a dissertation on faith. I don't care for religion -- in fact -- I downright hate it. But, since that was the story director Shama-lama-ding-dong was telling, he should've kept with his thesis, had conviction, and tried to pull off his Hitchcock/Twilite Zone homage sans the CGI effects that obliterated the last act. Plus, it didn't help that the script was trite and condescending, but Shama-lama is young and some major studio bozo will [fingers crossed] learn to edit him soon. Which, I can't believe I'm praying for. Hell, maybe there IS something to religion, after all?

SBX called late from working all day and was light-hearted, tipsy, and horny, all the way out in the boonies of Irving, Texas!!! Gosh, I miss the days when all we ever talked about was sex. I ordered her to enjoy a quick wank and store that randy energy for Sunday nights return to Brooklyn.


What an emotionally draining week I had. I learned a lot about how nerve-wracking the full-time freelance life is from what occurred at Marvel. I didn't like it. Not one bit. It fucked up my relationship with Sarah, 'cause I didn't know what to do and she couldn't help me and I got extra neurotic for a guy who is already mondo-paranoid. It hit me hard and I got scared. I fell victim to arbitrary policies, corporate politics, and unfounded lashing out against Dorkin's work, ergo, a reflection of mine. To tell the truth, I was ready to walk. Get a gig flipping burgers while hustling work at DC Comics. Draw fucking BILLY DOGMA and wash my hands from all this.

BUT -- my editor, Andy Lis walked the dog, Dorkin made commendable arguments and was a solid trooper, and I sat in a corner, shivering like a wet, emasculated poodle. I hated that. I'm shocked at what instability does to me. Yet, that's my life right now as a full-time freelancer. Uncertainty is my job. I just don't know if I have the fortitude for this type of upset, and now that it seems Marvel is backing down a bit [yet, still turning the screw just enough to mess with the integrity of our beautiful story & script], I feel slapped. Chagrined. Betrayed.


No other option but to continue doing my part and hope that it's enough. 'Cause, that's all I've got to give.