May 12th, 2003

smokin'

Sunday Odds and Ends

Actually, it's Monday morning, But whatever. I am God here, and I say Sunday still exists, I still tell time by the TV Guide listings even though I dropped that rag like a hot ball of mucus ages ago. Anyhow, a few things to type this time around, nothing earth-shattering, so feel free to drink coffee at the computer or work on that house of cards, you'll be fine.

Item #1 - We had a nice time at the ocean County library comics symposium this past Saturday, it was a bit disorganized, but all in all a very nice afternoon. I think the highlight was the grade school boy who, during the talk we gave (Sarah, Christine Norrie, Andy Lis and myself), asked us the age-old question, "Where do you get your ideas from?". From the mouth of adults, a groaner, out of the mouth of babes, something actually quite nice, when you're expecting, "Did you like X-Men 2 better than X-Men 1?". Or, "What's for free?". We answered his question as best as we could, considering how difficult a question that can often be to deal with, and during the signing we had afterward, he came up to Sarah and I and said (quite cheerfully, I might add), "Thanks. You're the first people who could ever answer that question for me." Tender little moments like that remind you as to why you got into comics in the first place -- after the fame, the money and the cocaine, of course. All joking aside, it was truly swell to see a bunch of honest-to-god kids there, along with a group of really nice adult readers. The library actually had a number of graphic novels in their lending collection, and the librarian who organized the event swears they are borrowed like crazy. I think the publishers should send batches of books to libraries, like, now, if they aren't already. Couldn't hurt. I've always enjoyed doing library talks, the problem is, who has the time getting libraries and book stores interested in these sorts of events? I'm already late on half my workload, my publisher's swamped, the same goes for everyone else in the field. If you don't have a comics fan at a library, it usually isn't going to take place. Not all of us have the youthful energy of James Kochalka, we need to hire a full-time minister of propaganda or something.

After the event we looked around for a flea market-type deal at the local veteran's hall we'd heard about. It turned out to be a tiny comics show, we were told they'd have vintage clothes and the like, but it was just vintage sadness. We arrived late and found a few oddball comics at decent prices, Simon and Kirby's Black magic #1, a Black Cat Western Sarah needed, a Buster Brown giveaway comic that featured Smilin' Ed's Froggy the Gremlin (and a Reed Crandall story as a bonus)and a pair of Patsy and Hedy girl's comics. I never used to buy old comics, preferring collections. The books are just too expensive and take up too much room. But more recently, after buying a few el cheapo books at various cons we've done, I've really gotten into the idea of back issues, I like the ads, the letters pages, the invariably awful text material, the cheap printing, there's a real charm to the old books that is lost in the collections, even the best-producded ones. And a lot of material I'm interested in hasn't been reprinted, and doesn't stand much of a chance of ever being collected for a modern audience. I really wish people could afford to reprint material like the Dick Briefer Frankenstein books, non-EC crime and horror stuff, Harvey's Black Cat, kids books like Animal Comics (esp the Walt Kelly stuff), oddball humor books, etc. The annoying thing is that whenever someone does reprint some of the lesser-known older comics, it's a cheapjack outfit like AC who print on a mimeograph machine stolen from PS 251. Or the artwork gets "Theakstonized" -- i.e. beaten to shit, printed like shit, and sold at an inflated price. Anyway, it's always fun to find a handful of old comics. Sarah also found a Charlton romance comic that I think she's going to write up in herjournal soon, because of a mind-boggling text advice piece. Which reminds me, I also picked up a Charlton "horror" comic. I've never owned a Charlton comic before this, so now I can see for my own eyes just how shoddy a product those boys pushed. Yeesh. Looks like talented kittens printed, colored and stapled these things.

Item #2 - Go click on Sarah's journal link up there right now and read about Cheeta, the famous Tarzan chimp, who is 71 years old and has kicked a few bad habits he acquired in his Hollywood career. Besides the terrific and hilarious quote of the month courtesy of his minder, there's some depressing stuff regarding the fate of Hollywood-trained apes. Basically, they train 'em for a career in films, and when they're done with them, they send them to labs to be blinded by science because the animals can't be socialized back into the wild or zoos. Fortunately, some are now getting sent to the old chimp actor's home instead of the Prell laboratory to get poked in the eye with shampoo. Not to get all activist-sounding here, but in the very least, if Hollywood and it's vines are going to take an animal and alter it's behavior so they can put it in their product, then they can spend some money to take care of the poor dumb aminals once they aren't useful anymore. The ape didn't ask to be in Every Which Way But Loose, y'know? it's the dumb friggin' people who agreed to be in shit like that. Anyway you know what I mean.

Item #3 - We have two e-bay auctions this week. A set of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (we discussed the fact I didn't like the book a while ago, so I figured why not dump them. I was going to trade them into my local shop and then saw that the first printings were going for upwards of $75. So, I figured, why not give it a whirl and try to pay for those Mother's Day flowers?. The other auction is for a goofy Batman drawing I did at the library event while waiting for our talk to start. You can see the goofiness at:

http://members.ebay.com/aboutme/alilena/

Item #4 - My thanks to Dirk Deppey for the kind words he's had for this here journal in his Journalista blog. He blogged my Marvel Essentials blatherings yesterday, and if I knew people were going to link to this I'd learn to use the edit function and clean up my grammar. And my typos. I'm a regular reader of Dirk's weblog on the Journal site, I think he does a terrific job covering this sordid world of comics and I generally agree with him on what's right and wrong with it all. If you haven't checked Journalista out yet, maybe this link will start you off:
http://www.tcj.com/journalista/

If I types it in wrong, you'll get the idea of where to go. I don't know how to do that condensed professional link thing. I'm a imbecile with bad grammar.

Item # 4 or whatever - updating the production schedule: The Thing #1 is at the printer. The #4 script has begun to budge and I hope to have it done asap. Agent X #11 goes to the printer today. Jill Thompson finished painting an eight-page strip I wrote for the Hauntings book which Dark Horse is putting together for August. The story is called "Stray", and it's about a haunted dog house. From what I've been told by our editor, Scott Allie, apparently everyone at DHC is enamored with what Jill's done, so I can't wait to see the art for myself. Sarah and I are finishing up another set of spot illos for a Nickelodoen magazine, they liked what they saw last week and asked us to do several more. I got to draw a vampire and some mice. It's a living. No, really. I'm serious.

Well, I'll sign off now. I still have some work to do and it's just past 2 am. To quote Snoopy, "bleagh". I might hit the hay and try to finish up what I've got left to do when I get up, god bless the internet and sending files last minute electronically. God bless having a wife who knows how to send files electronically. Her grammar's good, too.