August 28th, 2008


August Retreat

I spent the majority of August in SBX's Catskill mountain retreat isolated in my attic studio [a space SBX generously afforded me], writing and drawing episodes of STREET CODE, FEAR MY DEAR, and a 6-page story for GIANT SIZE X-MEN FIRST CLASS [written by Jeff Parker] featuring Ice Man and The Beast. I watched some episodes of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, BURN NOTICE, Michel Gondry's BE KIND REWIND [which evoked the classic movies of Preston Sturges for me], and Will Smith in I AM LEGEND [better than I thought...not as good as I wanted it to be]. I read Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece's LIFE SUCKS, which I liked very much. I started reading Marvel Comics' PLANET HULK collection, and I finished reading Warren Ellis' CROOKED LITTLE VEIN. Ellis' debut novel and compact format inspired me to start writing my own bizarre novel, POST DISASTER ADVENTURE CHRONICLES, of which I've typed 12-pages, thus far.

I missed The Olympics and Obama and Conan O'Brien on TV. In fact, I forgot we had a television hooked up to cable on the first floor. I've missed four weeks worth of new comix but, luckily, ACT-I-VATE's free webcomix kept me sated until my return to Brooklyn where Rocketship is pulling books for me [looking forward to that CREEPY collection]. I missed the beach. I missed swimming. I never once wore shorts. I missed my studio mates at DEEP6. I missed playing ping-pong. I missed playing hooky from work with SBX and seizing the sunny days. I never once went tubing in Phoenicia. I stopped putting sugar in my coffee.

The day after I passed my road test, I drove from New York to Connecticut and back. A week later, I drove to Boston and back. I became a biological father to a baby girl named Ruby whom I've met twice. I was honored to receive her very first smiles just yesterday. Ruby's mother, Lissa, is a natural. I went kayaking twice. I went to the Round Barn where the community converges on Saturday several times. I grilled a lot of meat and ate way too much Liverwurst. Going through ethnic food withdrawal, I ate at the local Chinese restaurant twice even though their food is terrible and they're a phone call away from an intervention. I almost went for a third time but their sewage system broke and shut down a part of Main Street in Margaretville for a couple of weeks denying me egg foo young. I rode my bike around Wawaka Lake many times and on one of my bike rides it felt like I was in an animated Walt Disney movie as birds chirped and flew next to me and rabbits hopped along the road and turtles craned their necks. I walked around the lake, too, with SBX and, one time, we discovered wild blackberries and ate them. I helped build two bonfires. I watched my cat, Coco Piloa, sun bathe on the back deck and drink water from the stream behind our house while my other cat Miercoles [or "fatty puff" as SBX likes to call her] hid in a bush for hours at a time. I hung out with Bob and Michele, George and Sharon, Esther and Donald, and Curtis. My mom hung out with me the most on some of the days SBX was working in NYC. I went to Inverna Lockpez's lecture about her new book, THE NOBLE BARN. I mixed and burned 15 eclectic cds for SBX's car, "Maude," so she and I could listen to great tunes while driving. I stared at the stars most every night the sky was clear.

I'm looking forward to Labor Day weekend.


Kirkus gives THE ALCOHOLIC a starred review

Kirkus Review Date: MAY 15, 2008:

Rarely does a collaboration produce a graphic novel of such literary and artistic merit.

Ames (Wake Up, Sir!, 2004, etc.) has distinguished himself as both a novelist and an essayist/journalist with a confessional intimacy and self-deprecating humor that sometimes blurs the line between memoir and fiction. He has found his artistic match in Haspiel, who brought a revelatory new dimension to the graphic memoirs of Harvey Pekar (The Quitter, 2006). Here, the whole is even better than the anticipated sum of its parts, with Ames exploring darker depths than he has in previous work, matched by Haspiel's noir-ish black-and-white illustrations, which make the lacerating, brutally funny story of a lovesick, self-destructive writer come alive on the page. With a protagonist named Jonathan A., the narrative invites the reader to identify the fictional novelist with his creator, though the string of mysteries penned by A. don't match the literary output of Ames. Yet it matters little what of this is "true" in the factual sense the drugged-out debauchery, the coming-oof-age sexuality, the opening tryst with an elderly woman that launches a series of flashbacks for the truth of art rather than autobiography provides tthe richness here. In the wake of September 11, the self-absorbed narrator finds revelation outside himself: "It's perhaps too apt a metaphor, but collectively man was like a giant alcoholic he knew better but he couldn't help but destroy hiimself and everything around him." The protagonist's attempts to come to terms with the tragedy as well as his addictions include cameos by President Bill Clinton and (hilariously) Monica Lewinsky. If the dinner with the latter never happened, it should have. There's also an orgy instigated by students at the school where the writer attempts to find refuge, and where he discovers that five women can't help him forget one. And there's a tender undercurrent throughout of a boyhood friendship complicated by suppressed homosexuality.

Could be the most compelling and provocative work from either collaborator.