December 16th, 2005


Alex Toth

Steven Gettis has been seducing me to illustrate a portrait of my favorite author for almost, what, seven years now? A cat from Canada who has a really cool project going where cartoonists draw their favorite literary author [check out:] and I've been bad at figuring out who I want to draw. I vacillate between pulp authors like Thompson, Spillane, Prather, Ellroy, and Lansdale, to more influential writers like Bukowski, Carver, Hemingway, Miller, and McEwan. And then it gelled and I chose Jonathan Ames because, not only is he my good pal and confidant, but he is also one of my favorite contemporary authors. So, I told Gettis I'd draw him an Ames illo when I found the extra time. That was a year ago.

Meanwhile, I get boxes of Cadbury chocolates shipped from Canada and cheerful email from Gettis every so often prompting me to come correct. He's just a really nice guy. So nice that he actually encouraged me to write Alex Toth, my favorite living cartoonist a letter and send him some of my creator-owned fare, including THE QUITTER, in hopes he'll dig my wares and write me one of his famous handwritten postcards schooling the perpetual apprentice and tearing me a new asshole. I live for one of these.

Yesterday, I receive a package from Gettis. I had a very good clue as to what it was. Apart from my stuff, I own very little original art and I was afraid to open it. It took me 3-hours before I could surgically remove the contents.

I nearly flipped my lidCollapse )

Don't think

Having no religion I have no tradition for death. No funeral. No way to cope with loss. And, despite recent efforts to rally and meet delinquent deadlines and go back to a semblance of normal, the loss of my brother Mike hangs around me like a ghost in the periphery of all my senses. If I think I see him then I think I hear him and then I get stuck on the last time I hugged him to say "goodbye," not knowing that was the very last time. Death is a concept too big to understand until it hits close to home and tears your heart apart and then you don't understand it even more. Traditionally, I'm Mr. Knee-Jerk Reaction and I flex opinions for stuff I have no education nor experience in. I'm a thousand year library of advice. But, when it comes to losing my brother the way he got lost, I'm at a loss. And the 15 unopened boxes of his "stuff" that sit stacked in columns near his Plasma screen TV in my living room doesn't help me get passed the fact that he is forever gone never to enjoy his stuff ever again. And what is life but to enjoy? Move? Make?

So I move and make and try to enjoy. It's not like I don't laugh. I laugh all the time. And then I cry. But crying is like laughing. Only sadder. Meanwhile, my mom hops in her truck and drives with her dog and they go places. I'm happy she's getting out and experiencing some of America and visiting friends. It's a proactive escape. My father is stuck in the cave that he's built but that's his way. And, SBX, and my friends are there for me when I'm stuck in my cave. Only, the only thing I know how to do is to fill another blank page and clip away making stories. I was never very good at relaxing and I'm worse at stewing. I hate to think too much. As my best friend Mike Hueston once said about holding court in front of a jury, "If you think, you stink." And it took me awhile to understand what he was talking about which was the art of conviction and deriving verdicts. So, I'm finding my way again and picking up where I left off a different man -- having said goodbye to my brother for the very last time.