February 17th, 2003


Bipolar & Tumescent

On Saturday, I set up my best friend, Mike Hueston up w/an official LJ handle so he can rid the burnt coals that singe his mind. Befriend ATTORNEY and behold, as he unleashes the trials and tribulations of THE BLACK AVENGER.


I met up w/SBX on 3rd place and walked her back to my place where we made the love. I ran a shower for her so she could make it over to the Spa on Court street for a massage. Later, Mike & Marie rang my bell and we walked over to Baluchi's on Smith & Degraw to meet SBX [post hot stone soiree] and Trevor, for Indian food. Chicken Tikka Masala satiated my palette as we shared stories of High School antics and teenage exposure to Mike's mother’s elite version of Buddhism. SBX and Trev got into an interesting conversation about school politics. Trevor insisted that he could park a car in a handicap zone sans fine, as long as he displayed his high school diploma in the window. Insisting that a traffic cop would pity his sad state of education. We took it over to the Zombie Hut next door where SBX bought a round of cocktails. We snagged the lounge in the back right next to the warm fireplace and I got a BLUE LAGOON that tasted like something a Coney Island saloon would mix in a drunks mouth. It tasted like gargled backwash, even though the funky punch sported plastic monkeys and a mermaid swizzle stick. No matter, I was along for the Zombie Hut ride. The gang debated the impending war on Iraq and the history of the world. Uninterested by global warnings, I scoped out the lay of the land and dug the Zombie vibe. We went back to my place for a game of TRIVIAL PURSUIT, while Godzilla movies played mute on the TV, and funk/soul wet the air. SBX crashed first and the rest of the gang split shortly thereafter. I wrote 'til 3AM, practically falling asleep at the keyboard. When I went to hit hay, SBX woke up sick and cramped up. She was doubled over in pain. Seems that the Indian food pillaged a gas rape. I tried my best to comfort SBX for the next hour as she paced back and forth naked and tortured by her stomach. Ultimately she needed to fight this beast alone. Eventually, she came back to bed and sleep put the monster to death.

Sunday morning brought triple-X theatre to my bed where SBX and I got to make up for what we lost to her stomach bugs the night before. Post coitus, we went over to Mike & Marie’s for a delicious brunch and to launch our foray into '24' ~ Season 1. We caught two episodes before agreeing to take advantage of the afternoon vitamin D. So, all four of us walked from Columbia Heights to Park Slope, bought comix, and SBX looked for sneakers, but to no avail. SBX went for a run around Prospect Park while M&M and I went to Tea Lounge before they split back for home.

I made quick salads for us while SBX took a shower so we could catch a 6:30PM show of the movie, CHICAGO. Catherine Zeta Jones is my type of muffin, a voluptuous brunette with the conviction of a Valkyrie. The movie did a great job of keeping its musical roots while telling a compelling moving picture. Kinda like ALL ABOUT EVE meets BONNIE & CLYDE. Afterwards we stopped into a local French Bistro where I ate onion soup and SBX got couscous w/vegetables for dinner. Worried about turning in a bunch of expensive medical receipts for insurance refunds, SBX cleaned out the files in her office while I read comix and helped out a tad. In the middle of paper trail hell, I took a bath and we hit the sack bummed that the mellow day ended up w/SBX working in her office rather than sprawled out in her bed reading passages from our favorite writers, enjoying hot oil massages. Made me feel guilty and anxious that I hadn't drawn a page of AIM TO DAZZLE.

After an early Monday morning bike ride to deposit my Marvel check at the bank on Montague [insuring another month of roof, heat, food, storage, electricity, phone, & comix], I went online and ordered not one, but TWO blasphemous sex toys for SBX for St. Valentine's Day. Devices I have been morally against getting her, or any girlfriend for that matter, since I started my romantic career poking around that mischievous orifice. Embarrassed by my investigation into such technological debauchery and succumbing to their ultimate purchases, I hypnotized myself into believing that I hadn’t done what I had just gone and did. So, I wouldn’t know if what I set in motion would come into fruition until Friday’s mail delivery.

Hibernating under the influence of techno-erotic denial, I penciled a bang-up two-page climax to end NIGHT FALLS ON YANCY STREET #2 with. Spent, I went to Postal Press to check my mailbox where I found a free DVD of MODESTY BLAISE, a 60s Brit-pop spy flick co-starring Terrence Stamp. I took the G-train to Jason & Myla’s apartment for dinner w/SBX. Risotto w/pesto and fresh garlic, salad, and wine were served and duly enjoyed. SBX brought fresh baked deserts and we talked comix/literary shop. I got privy to some rough layouts and color schemas for Jason's next BEE graphic novel and rummaged through his pile of indy/alt/euro/art comix that he brought from his SHUTTERBUG FOLLIES signing tour abroad. I absolutely adored and fell in love with cartoonist newcomer, Sammy Harkham's POOR SAILOR comic. SBX was impressed that the premiere European art festival in Angouleme, France dubbed comix the "9th Art," hoping that the form would run with such a declaration and claim stake. We played Fictionary, which is the home version of Balderdash and I tried to convince the party that an offbeat word found in the dictionary really meant "the safety lining for metal eyelets." Didn't fly. Still, in a house full of intellectuals, I managed to come in 3rd place with my nefarious ability to cobble a few eclectic words together and fashion them into a cogent argument, stringing ducks along.

After a frisky Tuesday morning wake up to an attack from SBX’s feisty loins, I split for home and wrote Harkham an email ordering a copy of POOR SAILOR. In purchase mode, I read an article in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY about my favorite childhood cartoon having all 130 episodes been released on 4 – DVDs. So, I ordered COURAGEOUS CAT AND MINUTE MOUSE, the complete series! A lot of my BILLY DOGMA influences come from that brilliant 1960 show. From the silly villains like Robber Rabbit, Phineus Fox, and Chauncy Frog, to the awesome "Catgun" that could shoot anything [just like Billy Dogma's "Berzerk Gun"] to the excellent Peter Gunn-esque jazz theme. It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered BATMAN co-creator Bob Kane created these two furry caped crusaders. Now, if only somebody would release MIGHTY MOUSE!

I inked some more pages of THING #2 and designed an AIM TO DAZZLE ad for Alternative Comics #1, an anthology for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY come May. Mike & Marie rendezvoused w/me at Ling-Ling for chinky-winky-to-go and we rode in Little Man over to SBX’s house to watch ‘24.’ After an hour of conspiracy, we opted to watch another episode from Season one, so we could catch up and start putting 2&2 together. M&M have a theory that certain sneaky events, which occurred in season one, bear strongly on season two. After anxiety riddled TV, we split SBX and I ended the day giving color advise to JMRN over the cover for his new comic: THE VAGABONDS [which he has decided to call it instead of NOMAD].

Wednesday’s cold weather was driving me cave crazy. Plus, low funds means cheap eats = peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, pasta, and chinky-winky -- seven days a week. Cheap eats adds 5-extra pounds around the gut. Hate that. Sure, blame it on the winter layer phenomenon and the lack of exercise. The minimal to nil bike rides that used to keep me fit. Not that I'm fat, just sluggish. Pacing about in a small Brooklyn apartment doesn't make an Olympian out of a cartoonist and more a shut-in than a swashbuckler. No surprise. Maybe I should get a gym membership or a blow-up trampoline? Senses get all screwed up when the sunshines bright yet the air attacks your cheeks like a barrage of AK-47 icicles. Eyelashes snap from the sub-zero temperature and you walk around looking perpetually surprised. I just went out and bought two bags of mixed greens. Circumvent another pound of starch. Went and got a haircut to shave back the cro-magnum look I was manifesting and boiled the ravioli in the freezer, but added a salad to the mix so that my body would start to balance itself, again. A haircut and salad. That was the ticket. All this self-preservation got me frazzled.

I have worked part-time, low-level jobs, my entire life. I have never made a career move towards anything stable. Always kept my eye on the prize, chipping away at comix, hoping to one day go professional. Now, that I am getting pro-work in franchise comics, there is no guarantee. I may never get paid to draw another Marvel/DC comic book page ever again. Will that stop me from making comix? No. I've got BILLY DOGMA. I've got indie-publishers who want to publish me. BUT, unless my properties go media-wide and hit it big, on an international level [read: movies, toys, etc.], I won't make enough money to live on. They're called alternative comix for a reason.

I'm 35-years old with no hope for a stable future, relying solely on page rates with the hope that a royalty check yields gold on a hit. The older I get, the harder it is for me to consider another career since I never honed a proper skill in the work force. Sure, I learned a little bit of Photoshop and HTML, but designers are a dime a dozen and just because I can sling ink doesn't mean I bring more to the table in this computer/graphics age that we live in where CGI special effects gets more Hollywood screen time than actors do. Oh woe the thespian. Inherent talent don't mean jack next to a fast and innovative programmer who can wield zeros and ones like Zorro does w/his blade.

A grocery clerk? Sure, a store will most likely ALWAYS have a job like that available [unless the internet completely takes over our shopping and distribution systems], but you won't make much of a living packing bags at age 65. You start off at the top of that particular game with nowhere to go but down.

It frightens me that I have no health benefits, no savings in the bank, no job security. Nothing but the ideas in my head and the ability to draw a story. And, how many cartoonists are vying for the attention of a franchise editor so they can make a living drawing corporate comix? Thousands. If I don't draw a page, I don't get paid. I don't have a salary that takes care of me when I'm sick. I'm always a month away from living in the gutter. Still, no matter what I do, THEY cannot take away my comix.

And what the fuck does passion and integrity get me? Bipolar and tumescent.

@6PM, I met up with Doug Brod to go see an advance screening of the DAREDEVIL movie, which was better than I thought it would be, and I had low expectations. SPIDER-MAN was far superior, although, they both suffer from ridiculous "Power Ranger" style/CGI fight scenes. Only, in SPIDEY, it was mostly in broad daylight. In DD, the director took a page from Tim Burton's BATMAN and staged most battles in the dark so that -- YOU CAN'T TELL WHAT'S GOING ON. A shame. Looked liked there COULD be some cool fisticuffs. The only character that was semi-fleshed out was Matt Murdock [DD]. Who is Bullseye? Who is Elektra? Who is Kingpin? Why? I wouldn't ever know from the movie. Read the comic to find out [hmm - maybe superhero movies can act as a starter kit for comix? Marvel better make sure there are plenty of X-MEN, SPIDER-MAN, DAREDEVIL, and HULK trades for the uninitiated]. And while Marvel is busy collecting sensible story arcs, they better make sure those tomes get into Borders, Barnes & Noble, and the Virgin Megastore, 'cause no movie is gonna make a non-comix reader into a comix shoppe convert. Not when most comix shoppes are far and few between and designed to appeal to the programmer geek. Word is IRON MAN is next to make Hollywood.

Anyway, most of the DD dialogue sucked ass and the logic was toy. Which is too bad, because Lee, Miller, Nocenti, and Bendis, did some neat stuff in the DD comix that could explain the characters in a scene or two that the movie neglected to employ. Farrell plays a hilariously severe Bullseye w/no apologies and Favreau nails Foggy Nelson. Duncan's Kingpin is only scary in his showdown w/DD and that's because his arms are ENORMOUS. There was some neato additions, but I'll let you discover them. Go see it and expect nothing and the movie will be fun in that respect. More violent that I would have thought, but captures the look and feel of the series proper.

Shit, it's much better than what Hollywood was doing w/Marvel Comics 10-20 years ago...

Doug and I went to Jim Hanley's Universe to score new comix and I bumped into my editor Andrew Lis, and his wife Christine Norrie, who was giving a talk about her comix, including her highly anticipated graphique novella, CHEAT. Hanley’s employee/budding comix scribe, Vito hipped me to some devastating industry news: seems that DC Comics dropped some bombs; fired long-time editors Rasplar, Helfer, an assistant, and Carlin stepped down from an executive role, back to plain old editor which is a creative job he's been itching to do for years now. Or, so it seems. Cell phone buzzed and I met up for a rendezvous kiss w/SBX, who was working late around the corner. She split for home while Doug and I cabbed it over to Kiev in the east village for some Polish food. I went home and inked and, like an idiot, let the media put me to bed paranoid.

Will duct tape REALLY stop the war from killing me?

Rubber Nipple

Thursday, I did laundry and ordered my father a Honey Glazed/spiral-cut Ham and roasted Turkey to be delivered to his one acre of frozen land in East Hampton for his birthday next week. I wrote DC editor Steve Wacker to wish him luck, what w/the devastating DC Comics editorial shake up, and he wrote back "Viva la revoluccion!!" which can only mean good things. I suppose. I inked a page or two and waited for my proposed evening plans to fall into place.

No such luck.

Tonight I was going to MAYBE hook up w/my pal Tim and go see Mike Fiffe's art show at IGNITE, a bar in the east village. Afterwards, Cooly C's band TORTURED SOUL was playing at a local venue. Two good reasons to travel into Manhattan during this killer winter vale and Code Orange threat to America. I support both my homies but took out the balancing scale and justified hanging out w/SBX instead, who is flying to Florida/Disney World w/her kids and parents for 8-days come Sunday. I opted to neglect my pals to spend quality time w/her.

SBX was in New Haven, CT, all day at am Alzheimer's Facility. Her job is producing an Alzheimer's video and scouting the location. We originally planned to meet and eat in the lower east side, try to catch Fiffe's show and then split back home for a snuggle and sleep over. But, my day was going slow and in the midst of inking a page that had to be completed or I would be way behind my deadline. I put off these tasks only to pay for it in frustration and anxiety, later. I suggested we meet in Brooklyn a little bit later and keep it close to one of our pads. If we ate near me, we could hang at mine for a few and take a cab back to her house. If we ate near her place, it would be an easy walk. Either way, we'd be spending quality time before she splits on her trip in a few days. We settled on a great Thai joint called JOYA in my neighborhood. We'd meet at 8:30PM. That gave me an extra hour-and-a-half to finish inking my page. I get a call @6:30PM from SBX. She is exhausted by the depressing Alzheimer’s day and travel, and wonders if we could just meet at her house when she gets back into Grand Central Station. I'll get her under the covers and read her a book. Maybe we'll watch another episode of '24' [season one]. All she really wants is a cuddle and sleep. I wondered aloud if we should skip hanging, but she insisted that she wanted to see me. Cool. I can work with that. That's all I want, anyway. To be wanted.

So, I ink away and 8:45PM rolls around. SBX calls and is almost home. I should hop the F-train, grab grub, and meet her downstairs in the TV room. I kick myself for not finishing the inks and miss an F-train by 4-seconds. I wait for the next subway wondering if I should have ridden my bike, but the bursts of frozen air that exhale from my lungs underground, remind me that I'd be a fool to bike in this weather. I read a story in TOM STRONG'S TERRIFIC TALES #6 and get out at the SEVENTH AVENUE stop in Park Slope. I swing by RED HOT for a box of pork-fried rice and a container of hot & sour soup, and briskly walk to SBX's house, entering @9:30PM. I get downstairs and SBX is curled up with a tray of food watching the beginning of an episode of WILL & GRACE. I kiss her hello and she smiles at me. We watch the entire episode sans intellectual banter. We barely catch up w/each other's day, letting network television's passive powers rule our brain waves, stifling our tongues. Still, I came over to hang with my sugarplum and wanted more than just a cheerful acknowledgement and bad situation comedies. I wanted to knock boots. Ahh, but she just got her period and didn't feel like "going there" tonight. Fair enough. I could always knock sugar. I'm easy. The phone rings twice and she ignores it. WILL & GRACE have a bit about "babysitting." Demi Moore plays a babysitter hired by one of the fags to baby-sit him. "Life is hard out there," and he just wants a break; someone to take care of him. SBX and I share a peripheral glance. We know of what the homo speaks. Bad situation comedy ends. '24' never makes it out of my bag.

We head upstairs and SBX checks her answering machine. Seems that Mr. Ex wants to speak to her about something urgent. I crawl into her bed with an Ames book [MY LESS THAN SECRET LIFE] and a porno comic [Colleen Coover's SMALL FAVORS #7] to read to her. She gets into it w/Mr. Ex and ten-minutes later she's eight grand shorter. In the divorce, they're negotiating terms and property, etc., and she's getting hit hard with a house fine that was his fault. Only, the house is hers from the settlement and so, she eats the bullshit that comes with it. Yay. Bummed, she lights some candles and crawls naked into bed. I still have my jeans on, ready to read her something quick to get her out of that funk. Too late. She's got those Chinese eyes. Cracking half a smile to tell me she loves me but doesn't have the strength to show me, much less whisper the words.

To keep the ball in the air, we talk...about anything. She asks me if I'm going to the war protest w/her and her kids on Saturday. I say "hell no." It's a waste of my time AND theirs. No war was ever circumvented by a protest. Plus, it's NYC. It's going to get dangerous and ugly. No peace will be served at that rally. She disagrees. She wants an outlet to express herself. I assure her there are better ways to express herself AND spend her time. The time she never has to give me. Us. Stop the violence by pressing lips.

She fades. Fast. Rather than get crazy, I leave her to sleep. I know I can't just lay there and crash w/her because I'm fucking up my job and the only reason I'm ever willing to risk it, is to spend quality time with her. Quality time w/SBX isn't necessarily sharing a bed to just sleep in at the end of her day when mine still has three hours more to go. If we lived together and I had a studio, saw each other/ate dinner everyday, that'd be a different story, but, not tonight. Tonight I needed her to stay awake for another half-hour and be my gal-pal. Baby-sit me while I babysat her. "Sweet dreams."

As I locked the door behind me, making sure my woman slept safe, and walked back to the F-train, back to my art table where those blue pencils were beating back my black brush, I looked at the clock on my cell phone and stopped. Scratched my head, composed myself, and continued to walk towards the empty subway.