I received mixed messages from SBX, Wednesday morning. Got a sweet voice message recorded on my cell phone telling me how much she loves me and can't wait to see me later in the evening at her pad where she was hosting a sequel to Sunday's fondue foray, even going so far as to suggest my sleeping over. Dandy. Proactive. Starting the day on the right foot. I'm digging this. Then, I get a letter from SBX, via email, accusing me of potentially undermining her relationship w/her daughter, The Haze.
Apparently, the ‘small talk’ I had with The Haze early Sunday afternoon, re: SBX being somewhat of a control freak and the pros & cons of being happy over being right, bugged SBX so much, she confronted her daughter about it who spun a slightly different take on the private parlay.
Me and my big mouth.
Seems, The Haze doesn't like doing chores for her mom 'cause...NOW GET THIS...she just doesn't like doing chores. Who does? Full stop. Nothing more. That's NOT what we talked about on Sunday. The Haze agreed with me that SBX sets a certain standard that is often difficult to achieve and she'd rather not do it at all than to disappoint her mother. Least ways, that’s how I understood her. BUT, SBX's letter suggested that I was manipulating The Haze and using our one-on-one as a tool to argue a unique beef I have w/SBX, and maintains IS NOT a beef she shares with her daughter/s. Going so far as to claim that her daughters, especially The Haze, would NEVER lie to her. C'mon now. Get a late pass. Step. It's not like she was fibbing to get out of something dramatic. She was fibbing [a white lie is how they dub it] to save from hurting her mother's feelings. Back in the day, I did it a million times to my father, and probably a million more to my mother. Especially when I was NINE YEARS OLD. I didn't have the faculty [and barely do now] to cope with criticism, much less, CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Although, with experience and authority, I feel I have more of a right to complain, judge, and criticize, than I did when I was a child. Ergo, my confidence to foist charges of varying degrees, seen?
SBX asked that I write my response back to her to avoid certain conflict. So, what did I do? I called her. Wrong move. We scuffled on the phone for 45-minutes and got nowhere. She knew it would go down like that. I had higher hopes for easy resolution. SBX hit office meetings and I felt like dog shit. No way was I using her kid to make a point, nor was I trying to undermine her relationship with her daughter. I felt like scum. Filthy. Dirty. A cipher.
I managed to finish penciling NIGHT FALLS...2/pp18 and went to Jim Hanley's Universe in Manhattan to buy new comix. Came home and stewed. Sackett Street neighbor, Amanda, gave me a shout and I dumped my troubles on her. She got me wise and I pontificated. I called SBX in the midst of her after work party, where I was supposed to co-host, crack jokes, pour wine, eat, play, and sleep over, but instead, felt sentenced with an unresolved charge hanging over me. We agreed to table it as best we could and put on our poker faces [a face I have yet to master]. So I biked over and greeted her pals, which included: Lori & Doug, Tracy George, and Dan Tucker, whom I like, each and every one. The relaxed atmosphere, stoked fireplace, and easy banter, made me relax and glad I had swung by. But, by the time they all split and I was washing late night dishes sans a kiss or a hug from my finger pointing gal-pal, I got fed up, losing the poker face, and churning static. And there I went, throwing New Years resolutions of managing anger issues to the wind and hurling verbal fisticuffs at my lady, who was having a hard time with me. Home was to be my eventual destination, so I cut to the chase and did just that.
Thursday morning had me at the art table earlier than usual, mono fixating on THE THING and his dilemma's over mine. NIGHT FALLS...2/pp19 was coming along just fine when I had another little epiphany and wrote SBX an email regarding the bigger picture:
Mulling over your recent criticisms and concerns -- especially when it comes to raising your kids, and asking me to back you up across the board and zip my lip when it comes to making any kind of major influence [until I have proven myself and am organically granted more influential power], is starting to make more sense to me than not. As you pointed out, I didn't grow up with the best examples of parenting yet I strive for purity in people, and that causes conflict. Encouraging emotional and intellectual growth in a body, no matter how big or small, can often backfire on me depending on individual sensitivity, comprehension, situation, and experience. My radar seems to glom over age and status, and I forget to take those things into consideration when talking one-on-one. I have a whole lot of learning to do when it comes to raising kids [especially girls] and I want to take your lead, yield to your intelligence and instinct. The excited leader in me tends to jump off the roof before there is a net below and I do that a lot. I'm given an inch and I take a foot. When raising and hanging out with your kids, I want to make sure there are nets everywhere.
I've been hit hard with a mountain of criticisms and concerns since we got back from Paris, and it's hard to swallow it all and make constructive sense. Please bear with me and give me some rope. I love you madly, and want all this to work so the only laundry we're airing is made of cloth."
SBX called shortly thereafter, in-between office meetings, to thank me for seeing the light. She was upset that it took turmoil to settle dust, but that we could probably work anything out if we so desired. Couldn't argue that.
Later on, I went over to Mike & Marie's with some chicken in black bean sauce from Ling Ling Young Young and watched INSOMNIA, starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank, directed by that new kid on the block, Christopher Nolan, who did MEMENTO. The movie was well crafted and fairly compelling. No great shakes. Although, because Pacino's anti-hero was struggling with heavy guilt, conspiracy, and Alaska's 24-hour sun light, he couldn't sleep for 6-days [ergo, the title of the movie] and his physical prowess and cognitive skills deteriorated badly. Pacino's performance of this decline was so well achieved that it reminded me of 70s reggae; slowed down temper cooling vibes that rock you like a baby and put you down like a horse with one lame leg. I found myself getting drowsy just looking at Pacino act tired. Give that man an Oscar nomination! I laid out the rest of "Aim To Dazzle," and read some comix before the sack was crushed by 175 pounds of dead tired flesh.
On Friday, I reworked my new BILLY DOGMA comic, AIM TO DAZZLE into a 32-page pistol-packing mama! I needed to draw a cover and 7-pages of NEW material to complete the package so I could have something handy for this years array of independent comix shows. In 2002, I was hawking my 2001 effort, OPPOSABLE THUMBS, and I felt emasculated. Weak. I wanted to have something NEW to hawk and that's why I'm doing double-time to get this baby off my brainpan and on the map. I spoke to DC editor Andy Helfer about doing a LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT. Says he's booked solid, having spent approximately $200,000 on 14 stories. Damn! I had a good twist on BATMAN by way of 12 ANGRY MEN and his Rogues Gallery. I put a call into and left a message with BATMAN editor Bob Schreck. Also, Helfer told me that his book DOOM PATROL is getting cancelled, which is really too bad, it's my favorite DC comic. We plan to meet up next week to discuss future work. I'll bring Bertozzi along
@1PM, I biked over to SBX's home to let in the CRATE & BARRELL guys so they could replace her splintered wooden table that weighs 900 pounds. SBX appreciated the favor and this allowed for kudos. Duly knighted, I took my Excalibur and ordered some rice & beans on the corner for lunch and rode back home to--
Tell me I didn't just see what I saw. Throw some water on my cheek. Smack me in the face. Do something. Quick. I did NOT just see a 90-year old couple waver back and forth on a street corner, ready to fall into oncoming traffic, to suddenly catch themselves from certain death, balancing each other by holding onto one another’s bodies, standing upright just so they could give each other...
Tell me that didn't happen. 'Cause it did.
Fingerman told me that Dark Horse was planning on doing an ALL INDEPENDENT CARTOONISTS issue of STAR WARS. Boy howdy, who I'd kill to draw BOBA FETT. So, I wrote my Croatian pal, Star Wars/SOLDIER X writer, Darko Macan, to see if he was interested in developing a quick pitch. He was out of the loop, burnt out on Star Wars proper, but told me to charm the editor. I tried just that. Pending.
I penciled most of T2/pp20 and went over to SBX's where the girls were having a sleepover party. After 2-hours of domesticity and hobnobbing, the young ones were in their bedrooms talking whatever girls of their age talk about while SBX and I pitched a tent in the TV-room and watched the eye-curling Baz Luhrmann headache, MOULIN ROUGE, a goofy concept that would have been better realized by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the director of AMELIE [and co-director of DELICATESSEN, CITY OF LOST CHILDREN, and ALIEN 4]. Otherwise, it's a terribly corny idea that a 5th grader would be embarrassed to pitch to his drama teacher on scratch paper. I thought of splicing lyrics of famous love songs together to tell a romance musical, too -- when I was a fucking idiot!
Couldn't take the French farce anymore, we lay in bed and kissed. Kissing wouldn't stop as knees knocked, elbows tangled, and bodies buckled. So, we made the love. SBX caught the early train to La-La-Land, and I picked up my book by the night table in hopes of catching the next arrival. Lansdales, CAPTAINS COURAGOUS, is dragging. My ploy is to keep the hardcover at SBX's house and, since I have nothing at her house to do when she's in the midst of things with the girls or doing solo domestic chores, I can pick up the disappointing novel and get to the bottom of this most recent Hap & Leonard tale, one lousy chapter at a time. When really, I should be mainlining Ian McEwan's ATONEMENT or Wally Wood's THUNDER AGENTS!
Oh, and about my Father? After living in NYC all his life, moved to East Hampton on Wednesday. I guess I kind of can’t believe it.