April 8th, 2004

smokin'

Thursday Schmursday

I dropped Sarah off at the airport earlier, she's going to Texas for a few days on HOF studio-related business. Afterwards I had a wake to go to, relative of a friend passed away and luckily I wasn't going to be held up at the airport or anything so I could attend.

Anyway, I'm staying home to get some things done, watch the cats, and clean up my office. I've been on an organization streak as of late, the past two days, in between sketching for Bizarro and the FCBD cover, I've overhauled almost all of my project notes. I threw out a huge recycling bag worth of useless, outdated or redundant notes and doodles, culling all my files down something fierce and putting the material into completely organized folders and files. Everything is more organized, easier to access, and I now have a better idea of my ideas and what I have before me as potential projects, strips and books.

The depressing part of it this has been learning just how many dormant and dusty projects I have sitting around unwritten and undrawn, most of which will never see the light of day, and most of which I think are pretty interesting. Going through ten-year old Hectic Planet notes was particularly depressing. Realizing I have notes to a series going back twenty years was depressing. Realizing I didn't know if I ever want to do some of these things, ideas which I once was really excited about, felt really odd. Can't figure out if I outgrew these ideas, or just don't connect to them anymore. Threw out a lot of bad gags and premises (probably kept an equal amount of bad jokes), found a ton of M&C notes (another bummer, but I was aware of that). Threw out a lot of Eltingville bits. Threw out a lot of stuff that was going to go into the Marvel humor book I was supposed to do for them. Kept some of the more miserable raunch panels for the "How to Get Sued" feature, I couldn't have used them in the Marvel book anyway, too dirty for the main core superhero characters that are closely guarded by their licensing lawyers. Anyway, my main file cabinet is pristine and ship-shape, I never thought I'd get around to it, so this has been a small weight off my shoulders. Now, if I could just enter all this data into the computer, that would be heaven. But I'm not complaining, the wall files are less packed in now , so I don't have to tear them apart to throw scribbly post-it notes into the "Milk and Cheese violence/bits" folder, the "Fun strip" folder, or the, "Odd Cute Characters I Don't Know Where to Put" folder.

Work-wise, I have one revision on the Mad strip to do and that's el finito. Minor stuff, they thought I was going to hand-draw something and I thought they were doing it on a computer, but otherwise the job passed muster and unless they're lying, the powers that be liked what I did. Hopefully I can do some more work for them, it's been hassle-free and fun. I've been told my strip should run in Mad #443, which would be on sale in June, so keep a peeper out if you want to see this or pick up the issue. The strip won't show up in Dork, I don't own it, so I'm just warning you to browse, buy or shoplift if you want to see my really, really stupid strip. It involves a rock and roll accident from the days of yore, and has a sort of "Devil Puppet's Invisible College" logic and spin to it.

What else? Oh, yeah, Circling the Drain was nominated for an Eisner, in the "Best Humor Publication" category. I must admit, my first response, when Sarah told me, was, "What the %$&?" One, because I didn't submit it. Two, because if SLG submitted it, it would have been under the reprint/collection category, where it was a gnat against gigantic material like Palomar, The Frank Book, Quimby, and many, many others. I wouldn't have even bothered sending it in, it's simply not up there in that league, not even close, despite it being my best book featuring my best work. No false modesty about it, simply a plain fact, I know where I stand, kids. I also know that awards programs often make little or no sense, and that nominations and voting can seem arbitrary, political, overly friendly or just downright stupid. I've always maintained that I didn't deserve almost any of the awards I've received, grateful as I am to have received them. Anyway, I never knew -- and I dunno if anyone else knew -- that a collection of previously published material could be nominated in the "Humor" category. Obviously it can, because the nomination clearly labels the book as a collection. Anyway, I can't recall ever seeing this before, so I feel a little conflicted about it and a little defensive, like I snuck in thgrough a side door after one of the judges left it open or something. I know these nominations can be confounding -- in the past you'll often see someone nominated for their series and a single issue of the series, but not nominated as best writer/artist. What the huh? So, they had one of the best issues of one of the best series, but the writing and art wasn'...the best?

Maybe because the Humor category is a self-contained little ghetto, everything counts. Like, now we can nominate Rob Liefeld books, Diamond Previews, the CBG, Alter Ego, CrossGen press releases, Marvel press releases, Top Shelf and Fantagraphics "going out of business" press releases, SLG sales figures... har har. See? I yam a "funnyman".

As usual, Sam Henderson should have gotten a nomination for his humor output last year. Probably some other folks, as well, more deserving and heglected. And I think the Nickelodeon Comic Section is funnier than some of the books on that list, but that's just me. It's all a horse race, and I'm just a nag. Speaking of which, jeepers creepers this is a pretty lame year for the Eisners (imho). Quite possibly the most egregiously feel-good, Go Team Comics, everybody gets a cookie bend-over-backwards to please list ever. Would I propose this list to stand for the best in comics for the year 2003? By and large, hell no.

Of course, this is just my cranky position. Obviously a lot of folks will find the list a triumph and a hoot and be happy so few artsy fartsy books got in there. A lot of people (some Eisner judges included) love -- almost need -- to see their favorite "good" superhero and genre books vindicated. More Powers to them.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound like an ingrate or a crank -- well, I'm okay with the crank part -- because I really do appreciate that an Eisner judge thought enough of the book to nominate it, I really do. I just feel weird about it, and you HOF faithful have already endured my various criticisms of the awards programs in comics, so blah blah blah, I'll shut up on that now.

So, on a positive note, congrats to our HOF friends who made the cut: Christine Norrie for her nomination in the Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition category , Scott Allie for his DHC Book of Hauntings grabbing a Best Anthology nom, and Jill Thompson for her nomination in the Painted Art category for her work on "Stray" from Hauntings. I'll admit I was very happy the Stray story was nominated for something, even moreso than the Dork nom. It's a cute, solid little story, and while the writing isn't the "Best" comics had to offer last year (no sarcasm intended), Jill painted a beautiful strip and really sold the story. Go Team Stray!

Okay, I'm going out for a few drinks. Sarah's plane touched down safely and I'm breathing much, much easier. I should also be getting advance copy of Hellboy: Weird Tales any day now, so I anxiously await seeing how the strip turned out and printed.

Now, to drinks! And -- to destiny!!