November 19th, 2004


Ugh...Ack...Gblarf...sickness, comics, work...Stripesy the cat...

Got food poisoning. Must have been something I ate. Heh heh.

It appears to have been a slow build-up, I was making myself sick eating some leftovers that shouldn't have been left over so long, and I was feeling bad and then worse and hadn't figured out what it was in time to prevent the final colon blow. I was having stomach trouble while penciling on the Urbz strip late the other night, and chalked it up to nerves and stress. Yesterday I became really dizzy and nauseous in the supermarket picking up groceries. I chalked this up to said nerves, said stress, not having eaten anything, and being a bit out of it after not leaving the house for a few days. So I got home, zombied around for a while, then ate another unhelpful helping of said leftovers, finishing it off, and in turn finishing myself off. An hour-plus on the porcelain throne, trying to complete several New York Times crossword puzzles while my intestines were trying to completely prolapse. Finally I just staggered into bed and passed out with my clothes on. I woke up at around 3 a.m., which is always disorienting enough. Read a few sections of a few things (The Happiest Baby on the Block (quieting babies with colic), By the Numbers Vol 1 (new DC/Humanoids translation of work by Rullier and Stanislas -- the latter the artist on the Herge biocomic featured in D&Q vol 4), Plastic Man Archives vol 6, and Destination Morgue, the latest James Ellroy collection, courtesy of the NY Public Library, couldn't sleep, so I got up and penciled part of page 4 of the Urbz strip. Went back to bed and read some more. Didn't kick off until after 8 in the morning. So now everything's all f'd up once again, schedule-wise. At least I'm feeling a lot better. There's never a good time to feel lousy, but we're so behind on everything, baby preparation, house work, work work, this wasn't good timing for getting sick.

Anyway, before the shit hit the fanboy, I was cranking pretty good on this Urbz gig. The pencils are running pretty detailed and I crammed a lot of material into the pages, it's got a Hectic Planet meets Eltingville kind of vibe, a lot of HP-type characters with funny haircuts involved in an Eltingville-type marathon event. I'm waiting for the Urbz "game team" to okay the pages I've penciled and "pre-lettered", hoping I don't get too many more obnoxious cuts and changes. If all goes well I should have this inked up and in Sarah's computer for coloring/cleaning next week. I will, of course, let you folks know when it's scheduled to go up on the site.

Otherwise, I just did a two-page script/layout for Dave Roman at Nickelodeon Magazine for a Fairly Odd Parents 3-D special issue. I think all the comics in this will be in 3-D, if not the entire magazine. I was told Kim Deitch is contributing something. Neato. Dunno if I mentioned that we recently sold two more gag cartoons to them. Nick Mag allows cartoonists to eat, pay bills and have babies. Yay, Nickelodoen Magazine.

I love selling these gags, because it makes me feel like an old timey cartoonist, like I should be waiting for rejections from the the syndicates, The New Yorker, Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post while pounding the pavement around Manhattan hauling around my wrinkling portfolio and enough nickels for lunch at the Automat. I do get rejections from Mad, but to be honest, it isn't as much fun when you really get rejected. It kind of sucks, actually. No romance there. Boo-hoo-hoo. Anyway, I'm still trying to sell something else to them. I had good fortune with my first pitch but it's been foul-tips and strikeouts ever since. One nifty thing, I was invited to the Mad holiday party. DC and Marvel stopped having holiday parties ages ago, and we can never go to any SLG bashes, so this might be fun. I think I'll know two other people there, if I'm lucky, which intimidates me, but what the hell. I rarely get an invite to free eats and I'll get to finally meet my editor, Dave Croatto, who was kind enough to get me into the magazine.

The By the Numbers book from DC/Humanoids is very good, btw, at least so far. It collects two albums, about a French accountant drawn into intrigue in Vietnam in the late 40's. Stanislaw is a practitioner of the clear line school, very nice work, very nice cartooning and coloring. I've read the first half and enjoyed it very much. If you like herge or CHeland, that sort of thing, give this a shot. $15 for two French albums, nice packaging and endnotes with the original covers and an interview with the writer. I really doubt that the Humanoids experiment will last long, but I hope I'm proven wrong. I was wrong about the imminenbt bookstore glut fears I had a while back -- hell, who knew manga would practically sweep American comics collections off the shelves, and sell decently enough to expand the GN sections in many book stores? Anyway, I'm interested in a few of the DC/Humanoids books and will give them a look. If you never picked up the Chaland stuff that was put out in hardcover, DC/H has released a softcover of vol 1. Cheaper to keep her, so give it a peeper.

The Walking Dead trade was pretty underwhelming. I know, plenty of folks think it's awesome, to each their own. I just wasn't impressed. Not because I'm so smart or hip, but because it just wasn't that great. Liked the art, on the whole. One major action sequence was a bit messy. But otherwise, standard soap operatics and histrionics, too many telegraphed plot developments (love triangle, a certain gunshot, the rain), a similar opening contrivance to 28 Days (which was already familiar to anyone familiar with the Day of the Triffids -- and in the case of this book -- why didn't any of the thousands of Walking Dead sniff our hero's flesh out in his easily-accessed hospital bed and chow down on the free buffet?), awkward on the nose dialogue and exposition, a few odds and ends I simply didn't buy into (the hero finding his family just like "that", a competent seven-yr old with a gun, no one actually discussing what's killing the world, important discussions taking place days after they should have), and I hate characters acting stupid when they've been shown to be otherwise. A major set piece is kicked off because no one is guarding the survivor's camp -- which is ridiculous, moreso when one character has been established as being overly paranoid and on the job re: guarding the place. I didn't buy the bitten fella's decision to simply sit down and wait to turn into one of the things he hated so much for killing his family. It just seemed like the writer was trying to do the "bitten guy knows he's doomed" bit but tweak it because, truth be told, all zombie stuff is cliche now, pretty much. It's tweaking the tropes that makes or breaks the newer stories. And there weren't enough tweaks, and the characters didn't send me enough to care if they get biut or hit down the road. I liked the smearing of body parts on oneself to cover the smell of the living (but wondered if anyone would actually slather bloody, diseased zombie parts on them knowing they might just get infected that way). I liked the idea of exploring how guns change lives and society and folks arguing over guns and whatnot, but still didn't buy daddy giving the 7-year old a gun. It just made me think of the ludicrous kid in Phantasm 3, I don't buy competent action children fighting adults or adult menaces in serious stories. The kickback from the gun alone should send that kid silly, he handles himself in melees and elsewhere, and I say thee nay. I know, there's children soldiers in the world lugging M-16's and grenades and it's heavy shit in the real world, but presented in dramatic lucite in a comic or movie I see little kids with guns or doing martial arts and my brain just says, "No". Nuh-uh". Anyway, wanted to like it, didn't like the intro, heard tyoo much hype, didn't like it. It's not moronic or god-awful stuff, but it sure as hell isn't brilliant, despite what some folks say. I'd rather read it than X-Men.

However, I'd rather read David B's Babel (D&Q) than either of those books, and I did, and I'm glad I did, because it was wonderful, dreamy, scary, crazy, beautiful stuff. Much more creepy and certainly far more compelling than the zombie book by the guy who thinks he's writing high drama. It's all about childhood and disease and reality and war and David B's head. Beautifully composed pages, beautiful imagery, a couple of pages that blew me away as if I was watching something huge on a screen in snesurround. All on the static comics page. He's got a brilliant handle on the comics page and the language, comics like Babel make me want to quit because I simply can't work the page that masterfully or ever hope to tell stories that drive down so deeply, as the better vignettes in Babel do, not to mention his work in Epileptic.

Cartoonist Ron Rege Jr has designed some vinyl figures for a Tylenol campaign called The Ouch Twins, as well as an "Ouch". I'm hot and cold on Reg, I really like his art but some of his stories leave me cold (hence the "cold" part). The toys look adorable. You can get a free toy through a coupon process on-line, which you have to bring to selcted stores in L.A., S.F. and NYC. Blue State Cities. Check things out at I doubt I'll have time to get on line for a toy, I want them all, but deadlines and this baby thing have sort of made me face the facts that I have to, y'know, work a little more.

Speaking of work, I've recently been approached by the editors of a British magazine to do the artwork for a regular comic feature they're planning. Dunno if it'll pan out, Sarah and I often joke about our bad luck when it comes to job offers involving the much-coveted and legendary steady gig with good salary. It's only worked out once for us, that being the Space Ghost job, for which I'm still grateful. But we've mostly had disappointments. Sarah was "this" close to landing a scripting gig on a regular comics page in Seventeen magazine (to be drawn by Elizabeth Watasin), pitch was approved, samples were approved, everyone was into it -- and then out of the blue Seventeen was sold, the editorial staff changed and the feature dropped. My short-lived steady gig at Penthouse Hot Talk was killed -- along with many others, like Bob Fingerman - when the editorial staff was sacked and replaced. Sarah was offered a staff position at a NYC animation company we'd done some work for, the job interview was postponed at the last minute, then a holiday in the country where the parent company was located held things up further, and then by the time things could progress they decided not to hire anyone. It was the first and only job we were ever offered where the magic words "health coverage" were intoned. Anyway, this stuff happens to all freelancers, we've been luckier than most, but we do have a lousy track record on steady gigs. So I'm not holding my breath, but one never knows. It would be nice, some modicum of stability would be welcome with a baby on the stork runway.

I finally figured out how the next-to-last Eltingville strip ends. I'm very happy about this. Not that it's some sort of stratling finale, it ends pretty much like they all do, chaos and misery. I started the strip a while back with a vague idea of the capper, but no map to get there at the back end of the strip, I was winging it. But now I have the mechanics down for the thrid act. So hopefully I can finish up what's on the board asap and can find some time to complete this story,get onto the last Eltingville story, and get them into print sometime before I'm in the old cartoonist's home.

I spent a lot of time tonight cleaning my goddamned rapidographs. I always forget to clean them until it's too late and I have to letter something and they've dried up or are leaking because it's been weeks since I've really used them. I really have terrible studio skills. I blame my parents.

Haven't seen any new movies, haven't heard any new music. Haven't been watching wrestling. Heard the WWE cut a lot of people. Too bad there's only so many places tow ork, and only one with any real profile, and that's the moribund WWE. God, they need competition, maybe TNA will grow. I wish ECW and WCW was still around. THen again, I have no time to watch it all anymore. Porbably never did.

Saw some old movies last week and the week before, some Myrna Loy, some CLark Gable, Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russel as booksellers involved with murder, cute, old-school studio sheen and panache. Most notably we finally watched The Third Man. I've wanted to see it for years. Great stuff, well woreth the wait, really off-kilter, nicely acvted, beautifully shot and scored, with a terrific finale and ending shot. Sarah borrowed the book from the library as well as a collection of short stories by Graham Greene, who wrote the story and screenplay. I've been curious about Greene's work for a while now, so once again, kudos to the library, even if the Staten island branches are pitifully small and unstocked.

Realize I'm typing quite a bit tonight, or this morning, to be precise. Nerves, I guess. Things are getting tight work-wise, we're running around like maniacs with errands and preparations for the baby, doctor's appointments, house repairs and delivery men and cleaning and raising money on e-bay and oh, yeah, work. And now Stripesy's reappeared. Stripesy the Cat.

You HOF faithful out there will recall that Stripesy was the neighborhood cat we liked to feed and take care of, and who would disappear for stretches of time, worrying us sick, because we're quite fond of the little guy. Okay, we love him, he's a sweetheart and he's incredibly affectionate, obviously he's used to people and not feral, and I'd take him in to our home ina heartbeat except we have no room with four cats and an impending baby girl and a somewhat small house. Anyway, according to a neighbor, he had a family, or someone taking steady care of him. Or a beach home in Florida. We never found out exactly, but he always showed up after his time away, like clockwork. Anyway, last year or so Stripesy began to disappear a lot more often, and for longer stretches, and we didn't see him for most of the summer. Which worried me -- especially after Sarah captured his companion, "The Little Girl", and several of her kittnes (some of which Stripesy fathered). Sarah's dad took the Girl to a vet, where she was diagnosed with feline AIDS, and put to sleep. We've always wondered if Stripesy was sick. He always seemed okay, but when he'd disappear for long stretches, I'd start to assume he took off or died. He was also having trouble with his eyes. We had spent a lot of money on the Girl and four of her kittens which we had taken to the vet and had then found homes for, and we couldn't afford to take Stripesy in at the time, especially when we thought he had a home, which from prior experience we knew could cause problems if we "interfered". So we kept an eye out and fed him and pet him whenever we found him in the yard. Anyway, I'm babbling, sorry, over a cat, which I know some folks don't quite get, I realize this isn't a person, but anyway -- Stripsey started coming back into our yard recently after a long time no see, and he's obviously not being taken care of. He's had bad scrapes from fights and he's apparently blind in his left eye. He's starving and we're the only ones feeding him now, and I've made a temporary shelter for him in our yard and we check on him during the day and night. he seems okay, I'm not a vet, but his weight is good, he can see, he reacts to petting and attention and wants to play. Anyway, Sarah's dad is coming over tomorrow, and we're going to scoop him up and he's going to take Stripes to his vet who works with strays. I'm worried Stripes might have to be put to sleep if he's sick. If he's not sick, we're going to have him fixed and patched up and have his eyes looked at and if the vet sayd he can be adopted we're going to look to get him placed in a home. He's not a kitten, we don't know how he's do in a shelter-type situation because of his age (he's at least 4-5 years old) and his eye. But if anyone in the NYC-area might be interested, honestly interested, in an affectionate cat who's had some hard knocks, or know someone who might be, please let us know via e-mail. I don't know if we'll have to try and find him a home near the vet's, which is in PA, or if he'll turn out to have something really wrong with him, but if we do get him back we can't keep him and with an NYC winter coming it would be rough for him, if not impossible, to survive in our yard. Anyway, I just hope he's not sick, he's a real sweet cat and deserves a few more years and he's been our unoffical/now official "outdoor cat" for a while now so we really care about him. Sue me, I'm a sucker for cats.

R.I.P. Stripesy

He tested positive, and was riddled with tumors and cysts inside. Sarah's dad said the vets played with him and fed him and he was purring and happy when he went to sleep. He was a swell cat and we'll really miss him.