April 24th, 2008


How I Spent My Birthdays

When we realized last week that we had to cancel going to NYCC, we also realized that my birthday was not only going to be spent at a friend's wedding, but at home working on the overdue Milk and Cheese strip which was currently ruining our schedule and lives. Emily was really looking forward to my birthday, more than I was myself -- for her, it was a day out, for me, a step closer to oblivion. In order to not disappoint her, we began to tell her that my birthday was this past Tuesday, rather than the actual date. We figured we'd be done with the strip on Monday, drop dead for the rest of the day, and take her out to celebrate the following day. So, my birthday was Sunday, but for Emily's sake, it was Tuesday. 

Unfortunately, after we got back home from the wedding on Sunday night, I ended up working for the next 23 hours, fairly straight, to finish up the strip, which I'd already put some marathons into the previous week ( I remember back in the day Bob Burden telling me to do more Milk and Cheese strips because they were "easy", and looking over the first few year's worth of strips, I see what he meant. They are awful-looking affairs whose charm escapes me at this point in time. Only a decrepit market such as the Direct One could have allowed that ugly collection of pen scratches to become semi-successful. But anyway...). I ended up staying awake for about 34 hours all told from Sunday afternoon to Monday evening, finishing the troubled strip up hours later than expected or desired, and blowing the second deadline offered up by my editor. Hurrah.

Sarah then had to pull a marathon coloring session, allowing the strip to go out Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, this meant that going out for my birthday was a no-go. We somehow convinced Emily that my birthday was not yesterday, but today (always fun to lie to the kiddies).  Okay, then, birthday number three was set, at least. I expected to sleep for many hours, but awoke, I thought, at 6 a.m or thereabouts according to the alarm clock. I couldn't fall back to sleep, so I got up and had some toast and read for while, before seeing the clock on the stove, which let me know that it was actually sometime after 1 a.m. Disoriented and stressed out by recent events, I stayed up another three hours.

Exciting reading, eh, folks? Wait, it gets duller.

Today, I found out that the library talk/workshop on comics that I agreed to give a few weeks ago was scheduled not for 4 pm on Thursday, as I deadline-drunkenly thought, but at 4 pm on my latest "birthday". Huzzah. This was an event put together by folks associated with NYCC, or something like that, it was spottily organized as far as I could see, with no web presence or real promotion of any kind. Basically, some cartoonists were asked to show up at local NY Public Library branches and give a talk about comics. Blah blah blah, stupidly, I agreed, because what I need to do is schedule more things in my week that cost me time and money when I'm already late on stuff and have the cash flow of an anemic dandelion. Huzzah.

So, our plans were canceled once again, and Emily took the news hard. We hurriedly ran to the post office to pick up a pile of mail and send out some things that had needed to go out days ago, then bought groceries to replace our depleted stocks, then drove back home where I tossed together a batch of artwork and xeroxes and paper and drawing supplies to impress the three or four kids who would doubtless show up to hear the local schmuck nobody talk and angle for freebies. I usually get about two to five kids at these things, the result of smart parents realizing they could get an hour or two's worth of free daycare while they plopped down elsewhere and slept or chatted away on their phones.

Anyhow, I show up at the Richmondtown branch a few minutes late, only to be met by a blank stare from the librarian staff. They had no idea I was coming, had not heard of the talk, had not been contacted by anyone either at NYCC, the folks organizing the events, or their main office. They had received no flyers. Huh. Zah.

I called Sarah to make sure I wasn't nuts and that the NYPL website really did have a listing for the event (which is how I found out the talk was Wed and not Thursday, as my lizard brain thought). The librarians checked as well. The site mentioned the appearance, but nonetheless the branch was never notified, and there was nothing to be done. The only people who showed up was a friend of mine from my high school/D&D days, who brought his daughter to get some books while he was saying hello to the loser. I was asked if I would stay a while in case anyone showed up, the event having been mentioned in the Staten Island Advance, hidden in the body of an article on NYCC , which I was interviewed for (back when I thought Sarah and I were going to the show, and I'd be doing my Saturday signing). I sat in the rather large Community Room with my friend and his daughter, a community of three. Nobody else showed up. My friend's daughter was tired of listening to her father and his loser friend talk over old times, and they left to find some books for her. I spoke to the head librarian at the branch, and I agreed to do a workshop in the summer that we could organize properly without the help of the comic book industry.

I bought a Carvel cake and went home feeling on top of the bottom of the world, wondering why I agreed to do the talk in the first place, why I agreed to do the summer workshop since these things are usually a bust for me even when folks know about them, wondering why I couldn't just belt out a simple two-page dumb-ass strip about Furries, and why I don't just get a job somewhere with benefits and spend my nights watching movies and getting drunk.

We ate some cake, I was in a mood, we played Hi Ho Cherrio with Emily, and I couldn't sleep after a few hours so I typed up this jagoff kvetch report. Tomorrow we make a go of my sort-of-fourth birthday this week. I expect a hailstorm of fire ants on top of a mild earthquake that only affects our possessions followed by a hold-up and the car breaking down in New Jersey. We shall see.

The Milk and Cheese strip goes live on the DHC MySpace page May 7th. Unless I'm wrong and no one told DHC I was coming.