Struggling at the art table, I made a hundred-and-two blue scratches and markings on Marvel's 2-ply bristol board, eking out an image of The Thing taking his new girl on a personal tour of Yancy Street. Halfway done penciling pp25, time was slipping by quick and I made haste to Jason Little's publication party at the Blue Lady Lounge in Williamsburg, for his new book, SHUTTERBUG FOLLIES. Doubleday had the hep to launch a new graphic novel line with a duo release of Jason's effort alongside Lance Tooks' NARCISSA. The bar was packed with cartoonists and pals. I knocked blocks with Abel & Madden, K. Thor, Lindner, Yayanos, Reid, Fuchs, Kelso, Bishop, Hart & Corman, JMRN & Sari, Brownstein, Fingerman, MacDonald, Little & Goldberg, Tooks, Doubleday graphic novel editor - Deborah Cowell, high-fived Pope, and bumped shoulders with a bunch of folks. Jessica Abel and I discussed the drama of lost comix.
In the spirit of Dylan Horrocks' HICKSVILLE, where the lost, unseen comix of famous and sublime cartoonists (e.g. Kirby, Herge, Crumb, Kochalka, Cole, Beck, Fradon, Mazzucchelli, Toth, Ditko, Ware, etc., etc., etc.) are kept hidden in a lighthouse for the chosen few to discover, behold, and read, Jess and I want to cull an anthology called LIGHTHOUSE COMIX; collect all those finished and unfinished comix by cartoonists who never caught the interest of a publisher, and wound up in the great white comix elephant graveyard. Great, good, and plain awful, plenty of us have these secret tomes stuffed in drawers and pressed below lockers. And I'm not talking about the stuff we drew as children, or the 50-print run mini-comix we copied, folded, and stapled, either. I'm talking about stories and/or collections that only saw, at most, one fleeting syndication and/or never got read nor seen EVER. Abel has a 48pp adventure comic called DOC TRADER, written & drawn in the spirit of Milton Caniff's TERRY AND THE PIRATES crossed with Marston & Peter's WONDER WOMAN. I have approx. 32pp worth of 3-color comix strips called BITBUNKER.COM, an online upstart parody written by a web-trend analyst/B2B entrepreneur. That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This could make for an embarrassing project, but titillating, nonetheless.
Bumped into the devastatingly fly, Alita (LaBrujah), after almost a year since the last time we bumped. Talked the pros & cons of writing a Live Journal. Debated who vogues online and who reveals too much (hello!), and what a diary is supposed to mean. Agreed that I rattle off too much detail and that soon, once I worked out my kinks and killed some darlings, I might actually write something poignant with precision rather than type with reckless abandon. Boil down events into feelings rather than charts. Decided that it was therapeutic when fingers did the talking, but no way could it compare to parlaying live & direct. As much as I'm on pins & needles for my next LJ posse fix, I'd rather be pouring out a midnight shot of malt liqour to "the brothers who can't be with us" on some east village church steps, any old day.
Split the folly, grabbed a burger deluxe and chocolate milk shake with Fingerman at the Kellog Diner. That place licks derelict perineum, and the only reason why it thrives is because the bizarre joint hails from a fond Fonzi era and is open 24/7/365. Fingerman and I gossiped and snapped, like we always do, and it brought much levity to the grease that was shellacking my stomach lining.
Rendezvoused with SBX at her pad and caught up with her harrowing day. Can't even GET into that here. Suffice to say, company's that don't provide no product only to hawk an expensive service, better come correct with their peeps, quit with the golden handcuff theory, and discipline their clients, or I'm about to grab my Bucky Dent Baseball Bat and go Ski-Mask on a corporate shine. Na'am sayin', B?
SBX crashed and I read Little's SHUTTERBUG FOLLIES. 'Cept for some wonky art choices, a few convenient plot devices, and a rapid ending, that was some solid comix reading. Not bad for a first graphic novel. Sits right nice in-between Herge's TIN-TIN and Kyle Baker's WHY I HATE SATURN.
Tried to follow SBX's slumber, but couldn't catch any Zzz's until 4-FUCKING-AM! Little's remarkable Doubleday coup, coupled with the throbbing masseuse pain seizing my body, made me paranoid with anxiety. I tossed and turned and tried to not wake SBX as my mind raced and rifled through my creative inventory. I vowed to finish my next Billy Dogma experience; THE DEVIL'S MUUMUU, and kick-start the next issue of OPPOSABLE THUMBS. I got crazy about my Marvel deadlines and wondered what the franchise biz would mean for my career. Could I handle the mainstream? Did I have a big, original story or three in me? With Little's SHUTTERBUG FOLLIES on Barnes & Noble shelves and Fingerman's BEG THE QUESTION coming out the gate any minute, both books throwing down the gauntlet, when would I ever have my $25 hardcover? When would I be able to prove my station?
Slipped in a mess of guilt and jealousy, I fainted. Woke up to the baritone of Barry White's voice calling in a sick day for work. Only it wasn't the Ebony Lover and instead, it was SBX and the crushed falsetto of her proper English accent hitting a barnacled bottom during nocturnal respite. With only 3-hours of shut-eye, I put on my Knight armor and served SBX some fresh water and tea, putting some pep into our hips and thighs for a mutual morning snuggle. Took SBX to the local diner for breakfast and sent her back home to read comix, watch DVDs, listen to Cubano musica, and sleep. Of course, she never got to do any of that and corporate demons held her hostage on the home computer and telephone.
Met Mike Fiffe, a young cartoonist who works at St. Mark's Comics. He called me with a recommendation from Corinne [my previous fly-by-night assistant] to look into assisting me. Armed with a bunch of raw talent, Fiffe showed me his remarkable portfolio. The kid's art was all over the place but hitting cylanders. Tradition would have it that I furnish up-and-comers with my wisdom and help hone their craft in return for some erased pages and the filling in of blacks, but I don't know if I'm quite ready to take on the mantle of Master when I'm at best, a peer. Back in '85, when I took my apprenticeship under comix masters: Chaykin, Simonson, and Sienkiewicz, I was all wide-eyed and willing to learn the trade by any means neccesary. Praying I would get the chance to MAYBE pencil THE FANTASTIC FOUR, one day. That was 17-years ago and I'm just breaking bread with the powers that be, now. Is it luck? No. I worked my ass off to get where I'm at and I'm no where near where I want to be. But, in '85, assisting the hot-dogs of the industry at Upstart Studios, was one of the most informative experiences of my life, even if all I was doing was laying down some harmless ink and drawing the occasional background. So, I should take responsibility and do my duty and pass the baton. Give a crippled crab a crutch. Although, I'm too hands-on with all my work and won't let anybody draw jack on my pages, I'll give a brother a shot, let 'em erase pages and fill-in blacks, teach by example, and see where this relationship goes.
The minute Fiffe split, I got a sad call from assistant editor, Lynne Yoshii. She was made redundant and let go while Marvel makes an editorial shuffle. I wished her well and got nervous. Called my editor, Lis, and he reassured me that things were gonna be A-okay. I hopped back on my art table and chained myself to the desk and finished penciling pp25 of NIGHT FALLS...
SBX called to whisper me 'goodnight' in her sexy, husky voice. She read me a naughty note that she had stolen from my desk a long time ago. A note I wrote to myself one evening, preparing for SBX's arrival: