EW and The Aspiring Artist

Monday, May 30, 2005

First things first, Elk's Run is the shit:


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There was an update yesterday, in case you didn’t know. Today I’m continuing to show off the horrendous writings and drawings I made between the age of 13 and 15 by exploring my early attempts at comic art.

There was a magical time when a certain young artist inspired every thirteen year old kid to put pencil to paper and start making comics. It was a time when story was sacrificed for cool poses, where every character looked the same, had nonsensical shading and anatomy that made God wept. It was a time where any given kid, despite the handicap, could pick up a comic and say, “I can do that.” I was that kid. My handicap was the inability to draw. The year was 1992.

The year we were first blessed with YOUNGBLOOD. I remember the hype. I remember going to Mannix and buying two copies of Youngblood #1, one for saving and one for reading. I remember opening it up and saying, “Holy Fuck, I can do that.” And I remember drawing Rip-Tide, looking at it and thinking I can make an honest shot at this comic drawing thing. Wouldn’t you?


Sure she looks like Tina Turner. Sure she has a deformed arm (with deformed hand) coming out of her head. Sure her left breast is smaller than the right. Sure her left shoulder is the biggest fucking shoulder ever. Sure she had no nose and no ass and her vagina starts way too high. But fuck it, I practically light-boxed that shit from a Youngblood comic.

Here would be a good place to show-off the character designs for my own comic, but I’ll do that on Friday. For now, let’s continue to enjoy my attempts at other people’s characters. Like Venom, for instance.


Wow, look at that spittle. Ignore the fucking mongoloid head and 56-inch right bicep. That spittle is dope. That’s some McFarland spittle. And look at those teeth, the detail. Ignore the tongue that just sort of “starts”, though. And definitely ignore that 3-inch wide left elbow.

I was a big McFarland fan. I knew Liefeld’s writing sucked and I was catching on that his drawings weren’t that good. But McFarland, back then, was my fucking man. Look at all of Spider-Man’s webs! Look at the size of Spawn’s cape! The detail! Look at how many words Spider-Man is saying! And they don’t always end in exclamation points, like other writers! That must be some artsy shit! If there was any creator I wanted to be back then it was McFarland. Well, McFarland or Jim Lee, which brings me to this Gambit picture.


What the fuck was it that made every kid my age obsessed with Gambit? And shading, what made us obsessed with shading? Even better, what made us obsessed with the really, really shitty characters like Darkhawk:


I think the anatomy jokes are plaid at this point but I will say that FDR had a better chance of walking than my Darkhawk did. I loved Darkhawk. And Sleepwalker. What. The. Fuck. I swear to God, when I was a teenager Marvel comics where taking the books that housed their weakest ideas and lining the paper with acid so that when you touched it, it seeped through your skin and made you believe it was the best idea ever.

What was Darkhawk’s power? He flew and had a whip? Sheesh.

Eventually I started experimenting with color. The one picture I still have from this era is of Bloodshot:


I’m not going to lie, even now with all the hatred towards gimmicks and things like chromium covers, Barry Windsor-Smith’s cover to Bloodshot #1 is one of the most eye catching covers of all time. You can put a thousands comics on a wall and my eyes will be drawn to that Bloodshot cover.

Unfortunately, my complete lack of artistic training completely destroyed that picture and any other image that might have done Bloodshot’s weak character any justice whatsoever. .

But I thought I could draw. No school, never drew before. But a certain man inspired me to dream and God-damn it I was going to try.

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The Power of Bad Writing

Updating from New York City, I’m not going to do a plug today but will instead go right into my story. I will say that I rifled through close to 2000 pictures and found some good ones including two pictures of The Coat. Question is, do I upload them now or wait until my next quarterly pictorial adventure…

Luckily for me the story I scanned in and am sharing is funny, cause I’m kind of pressed for time. Again, as a disclaimer, all of these stories were written in the 8th grade, I was thirteen years old, I’ve gotten better.

In the 8th grade, when I was thirteen years old, I thought I was one fuck of a writer. My Creative Writing teacher, Mrs. Friedman, took a shining to me and became what I consider to be my first mentor – I’ve had several since.

I would stay after class and she’d help with my writing, give me feedback. It was mainly poetry but I occasionally did short stories here and there. My mom was all psyched that I was getting into writing and, wanting to encourage it, she got me a typewriter.

It was functional – that’s about it. Nothing fancy, press a key and the letter pops up on the page. No erase key, nothing like that. I started using it to belt out my poetry, playing with format and trying to emulate e.e.cummings chaotic formatting with my rigid typewriter. I have these poems – I’ll get to them.

At the end of the eighth grade we had a final paper. It was a short story followed by an analysis of someone else’s short story. Somehow, for reasons beyond my recollection, I was apparently very anti-drugs. My “kill the crack” line from the poetry portfolio was nothing compared to this short story that I’m about to show you.

Also, at some point, I started to believe I could draw. I took an art class in the 8th grade and the one thing I remember was my teacher looking at some clouds, telling me they needed more blue, and then taking points off because my clouds were too blue. And that’s really all I remember about my artistic background going into this paper.

But, despite my minimal skills, I had no qualms with showing my artwork. I was so proud of it, in fact, that I displayed my skills on the cover of my short story paper:


Now that’s hot. A guy and a girl separated by a needle – 100% Proof blood, apparently, being poured over a desert landscape. But it gets better; let’s take a look at the Table of Contents where I promise some “Bonus Sketches”:


My art is so hot, it’s a fucking bonus. I’m not going to transcribe the story, I’ll post it here and I suggest you read it. I’ll sum it up afterwards in case you’re too lazy to read it.



Basically, it’s a touching story about a boy who was beat by his father, bullied and rejected. He meets a girl that finally understands him but she carries a crack-pipe in her purse and forces it on him. The crack gives the boy “the power of insanity”. He uses this new power to shoot the high-school bully with a shotgun, kill some girl that rejected him, and shoot and kill his father. His girlfriend then dies, because she chose “the path of the crack-head”.

And then, after the story, the money-shot. How I explain to my teacher that I only hope my story can have the power to stop one drug addiction. And if it did have that power I would publish it.

If you didn’t read the story, if the above description wasn’t enough to get you to read it then you might have “the power of insanity” as well. I was so full of myself I thought it was the best story every made that will end drug abuse if crack heads just read it.

I’ll end this with what I know you’re all waiting for. Bonus Sketches. Enjoy:


Have a good holiday.

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Noel Interview, Vodou and...well...words fail me.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bunch of images today, click any of them to enlarge.

Props to Sean Maher of the Zealot’s Lore who interviewed Elk’s Run artist Noel Tuazon and made it interesting (I usually never read interviews with comic guys because they’re usually boring).

And, while I’m in pimp mode, how about a promo for Hoarse & Buggy’s upcoming third title, Vodou, writing by Joshua Hale Fialkov and illustrated by Scott Keating (edited by me, of course). It’s sort of X-files meets The Shield and it is going to destroy you:


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I honestly have no idea where to begin.

Yesterday I was cleaning out my office when I came across my old portfolio. This is all stuff from Junior High and early, early High School. And it’s a comedy goldmine. I mean…it’s just really good stuff. It’s easily a weeks worth of stories but I couldn’t wait until Monday so I’m going to stretch it out to six days worth of stories. Technically, I should start at my short story I wrote in the 8th grade, because that was the earliest thing in the portfolio, but I like to keep Fridays really funny – so you get my 8th grade poetry portfolio – the second oldest piece within the collection and easily the funniest.

In the 8th grade I fell under the illusion that I was a really good writer. I’ll talk about my teacher (and the person I consider to be my first mentor) on Monday but I will say that I remember staying after class and looking at listings of publications that accept blind submissions, noting ones that paid – as if an 8th grader has any shot of getting published and paid for it.

Anyway, this poetry portfolio was our midterm project and came after the above mentioned short story which was the first thing that anyone besides my parents have ever said was really good (the teacher I eluded to above). My head was huge at the time I wrote these poems and it shows.

I don’t even want to give a commentary; I feel that if you read them, they speak for themselves. But I’ll go page by page for those that don’t feel like reading the original poems or don’t like cursive.

Please keep in mind I was thirteen years old when I wrote these – I’ve gotten a lot better.

Let’s start with the cover:


It’s a maze where the dead-ends are: 1) a dodo bird 2) a gun 3) a Miami Hurricanes hat and 4) a city. You may be thinking there is no-way these images have anything to do with the poems inside the portfolio. Well…let’s continue on, for now.

Below is the introductory page, a poem called “The Maze”. It’s a metaphor for choosing your path in life – how ingenious. Before I continue I want to note something. As bad as these poems are, they’re pretty much as good as anything I see written on Live Journal these days. So, you know, fuck off. Also note how I sign every poem, increasing their value. Ok, “The Maze”:


Notice that I got an A+ on this portfolio because I fucking rock. I also think it’s because my teacher was scared of me. Why? Read on, read on. It’s a window into my thirteen year old soul.

The Table of Contents:


I scanned in the “Workshop Poems”, my Shakespearean Sonnet and the “Extra Poems”. The Extra Poems thing is kind of funny. I thought my work was good enough to include “bonuses” for my teacher. Next week you’ll see the funniest bonus, in my 8th grade short story final paper I included “Bonus Sketches” (and actually called them that) – it’s the comic fan in me. I did not include the Collaborative Poems (it was basically a group poem, not as funny) nor the Edgar Allen Poe section since that was just analysis.

So, let’s move onto The Peculiar Object:


If you read it you’ll notice it was a poem about being awestruck (for no explicable reason) by a Miami Hurricanes hat. I don’t think I need to take that one any further.

The next poem is The Last Dodo, and ode to the great flightless bird:


I think, reading it now, the last dodo (according to the poem) was shot and killed and died alone but really didn’t give a fuck – he was a proud dodo (two words you never really see together).

Here’s were I get all emo. Dark Society:


Thirteen years old and I was already disgusted with people. Notice I thought people killed themselves for a quarter (as if it was a common occurrence) and I also completely ripped off “Pride and Prejudice” and thought my teacher wouldn’t notice. She may have noticed but she didn’t take off points, at least (A+, remember). Also notice how territory or honor, to me, was a justifiable excuse for homicide.

Metaphors:


I bring back the maze thing, give some insight into my parents. I get all fancy with my gun and drugs metaphor and get all Eco on your ass with my “A car is the ozone’s pesticide”. I’m the metaphor master.

Outside verse Inside, here’s where I get all introspective and shit:


I get a little clever here, get fun with it. And yes, I said that I was unbelievably handsome. You have to remember, at this point in my life I was thirteen years old but I already made out with a 16 year old, got an 18 year old to promise to wait for me while I went into the Airforce and had a current girlfriend who wasn’t mentioned yet but I was cheating on her with a 17 year old who also wasn’t mentioned yet. I was getting major fucking ass. Of course, once I hit high school, it was an awkward Greek chasing dry-spell but Junior High School was the bomb…and my sexual peak, unfortunately.

The Maze, my sonnet, the title poem:


Again, massively emo. Winding paths, dogs eating dogs and criminals tip-toeing. I was so fucking emo it hurt.

Inner Wounds was a poem I wrote about my Uncle Mike, it was one of the first things I wrote:


Not funny but I felt it made his story that I told last week more real. The poem is still bad but grounding, you get some insight into how much that fucked me up. It wasn’t my first death, my Uncle Joe was, but it was the first fucked up one. Since then I’ve had a lot of fucked up deaths – I talked about my uncle Alex who died of AIDS and my cousin Steve who died when he was eleven (and although I didn’t say the cause yet I’ll spill it now, he also died of AIDS, blood transfusion). I had another cousin die of AIDS, a second cousin, older. He was the first one in my family to get the disease and really bring it home, for me, that this shit is real. That’s my family, tragedy after tragedy. I just told you about 25% of them. It’s a bitch for a kid to deal with, and I think the above poem really highlights how it got to me. Not looking for sympathy, I dealth with this shit many times over with four different therapists.

Sorry to depress you, the last one is the funniest of the bunch; end this on a good note. Civilization:


Here I am, an eight grader, talking about rape and maiming and husbands beating wives with a “heavy, iron pan”. It might seem depressing but the last line is fucking glorious. It is THE line you would expect a kid to write:

To civilization,
I turn my back.
Down with violence,
And kill the crack.


Kill. The. Crack. Out of left field comes this anti-drug commentary with a line you would expect Nancy Reagan to say.

Kill. The. Crack.

Dude, I don’t care how much I depressed you, that shit is fucking hysterical.

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Doodlebrain, Jason Sho Green and Becoming Moose

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Found some people worth plugging before story time, artist that I stumbled across that are doing some really fucking cool stuff. First check out Doodlebrain, no idea what his real name is. He’s got some strong, strong sketches on his site and I need to find out what else he’s up to – his bots' sketches have a very dynamic pop. Jason Sho Green has a great style, a voice in his work that’s hard to ignore. I love the stuff he does on wood boards and for you people that like nice art on your walls he seems to sell prints at a very reasonable price. Anyway, just throwing some new finds at you.
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Back at the beginnings of this year-long experiment I talked briefly about the day I adopted my current namesake, The Moose in the Closet. As I mentioned, The Moose was born in the summer of ’96 at a barbeque to celebrate the end of high school and the last summer all of my friends will spend together.

We were grilling up some burgers, drinking some beers and listening to some music. We jacked a microphone in and I just started doing some silly-ass freestyles that were getting the people laughing. G said we should be taping this, so we got an old Memorex, popped it in and hit record. We threw the Beastie Boys’ THE IN SOUND FROM WAY OUT in the CD player and I made the introduction that will one day become the mantra of The Church of Moose.

“The Moose in the Mother-Fucking Closet is about to drop some shit. G, drop a beat, yo.”

G hits plays and I start spitting the lyrics to DOGFOOD, the very first Moose in the Closet song recorded. The song wasn’t about eating dogfood or comparing anything to dogfood. It was about chilling with the dogfood. It got some good laughs, so I decided to do another.

The second song was RAVIOLI. We threw in James Brown's (my mother fucking man) SEX MACHINE and I sang along with James.

Get on the scene, like Chef Boyardee.

It was glorious.

Make your raviolis. Raviolis don’t burn it baby. Don’t burn my raviolis. I’ll fuck your ho, I’ll fuck your ho …Get up’a! Cookin’ Raviolis. Get up’a! Cookin’ Raviolis…

After I spit RAVIOLI, The Moose had fans – it was no longer a novelty act.

We wanted to keep going but we needed refreshment. B, G and I went into B’s car to drive on over to the 7-11. My neighbor’s skanky friend wanted to join us and we told her she could as long as she agreed to flash whoever we told her to flash. She happily agreed and we let her in the car.

Well, we stopped alongside every person on the street and commanded the girl to flash them. We walked into the 7-11 and told her to flash the clerk, a customer and the camera. We would pull alongside cars, honk our horn and have the girl flash them.

The Moose turned into a fucking party in one night – I was a goddamn rock star.

Upon returning to the party I got right back up to the mic and freestyled SESAME’S TREAT: A MAN’S BIG MEAT, a homoerotic freestyle dropped over that techno song, SESAME'S TREAT (which looped the Sesame Street theme song).

Groover was cute, had a big cock, in the ass of snuff-a-luff-a-gus fucked Big Bird, bookbag, Bert and Ernie shooting jizzum, the rizzum, the izzum boogidy-boogidy-boogidy-boo. I fucked you. Yeah. What? DOGFOOD!

Lyrical. Fucking. Genius. In the immortal words of Vast Aire, “A pigeon can’t drop shit if it never flew.” And I was flying that night, entertaining the people at the barbeque, having girls flash at my beck and call and, in turn, I was dropping hot shit.

We ended the night with a disappointing attempt at a song. By then most people were gone and we were all beat, it had to be past 4AM. It was to the X-files theme song for Christ’s sake and it was just me basically talking about X-files in the same voice Sen Dog used when he dropped it for Cypress Hill.

The remaining few of us crashed after that. RJ got head from my neighbor and no-one wanted to touch the skanky friend. I was content with become an overnight sensation. It would grow. Soon I would have thirty, thirty-five fans. But the Moose will never record another album with G on the deck – instead he joins R.A.I.L. (Random Acts of Illegitimate Lyricism), with B on guitar and Jeromeo on drum machine - but that’s a story for another day.

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Ray Ceasar and Killing Clapton

I’m not a big fan of digital art in comics. I guess I’m more of a traditionalist – I like my imperfect lines and occasional botched inks. Nowadays, with digital color and inks, you don’t get the traditional feel anymore but I take comfort in knowing that underneath the digital layers there are imperfect pencils. It makes me a little warm. My dislike for digital comic art is one thing; I can’t even imagine a digital painter, displaying his work in galleries, printed out from a computer. If you sell your work, the buyer is basically paying for the frame – the art itself has no value as it can be reproduced as many times as needed. And then I stumbled across Ray Ceasar’s website and I stopped thinking about tradition and sales. Go check it out, it’s something beautiful.

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After a couple of years of working in the video store I started getting relatively OK at handling my money. I was at least able to occasionally save up for special occasions. One year, November of ’94, junior year in high school, I wanted to do something extra-dope for my father. So, I got the two of us tickets to see Eric Clapton at Irving Plaza.

Irving Plaza is a small club. I was expecting them to clear out the tables and pack us in. Instead, the seated us at the tables and had waitress’ serve us drinks while Eric Clapton played a three hour long blues set, literally twenty feet away from us. To this day, that was the greatest three consecutive hours of my life.

The guy was amazing. He would just start jamming and improvising and go off on ten minute long solos. The audience would cheer and shout and he’d pause to raise his hand, nod in acknowledgement and give us a quick smile. He had a rack of guitars on stage and a story for each one; he’d switch them up almost every song.

My pops and I just sat there in awe. He was drinking his Budweiser and I was kicking back cokes as we just stared at this man that was doing a marathon set of songs for this tiny venue. This guy was a god and if I wanted to I could reach out and touch him while he was jamming “Hoocheecoochee Man”.

We left that joint high; all we could do was talk about how amazing that show was. We hopped on the train and started home, t-shirts and CDs clutched in our hands.

We couldn’t shut up, even on the train. We were just gabbing like two girls at a slumber party. We were completely oblivious to the world around us and nothing could shake us from our Clapton-induced tunnel vision.

Well, almost nothing.

A couple of Hispanic guys get on the train, looking like they just got off of work. One was holding a paper bag, one an empty bucket. The third guy was just looking around the car, seeing what was what.

In a flash the guy flips his bucket around, puts it down on the floor of the train and crouches over it. The other guy grabs a water bottle (Poland Springs – with the ridges) from out of his brown bag and pulls a hair pick from his back pocket.

They start jamming away some Latin rhythms, the one guy playing his drum like a conga while the other moves the hair pick along the water bottle. The third guy begins to belt out some lyrics.

I’m sure that if this were any other day, my father and I wouldn’t care. Hell, we might have even liked some sweet Latino explosion. I’ve been known to shake my hips from time to time; it’s a right of passage in my family.

But not today. Not right now. After sitting through three hours of Clapton to hear this on a train, this was totally ruining our high. We stared those Latino fuckers something fierce but, alas, our staring had no effect.

As the train pulled into the station the singer let out a broken English equivalent of a “Thank you” and started going around with his hat out. No-one gave that bastard any money and for the first time in my life I was happy that New Yorkers don’t give a shit, I understood the philosophy.

Those poor fuckers can really ruin your good time.

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Courtney Huddleston and Celtic Idiots

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Before getting into my story for the day I’d like to send a little pimp action over to Courtney Huddleston whose site I somehow stumbled onto during one of my maddened late night click-fests. This guy has some great sequentials but the samples he has up for DECOY, his book with Penny-Farthing Press, rocks my pretty nice in the pleasure spot. Nice clean lines, great inks and liberal panel breaks but not excessive panel breaks, enough to make the page look dynamic and bursting with action. Great stuff, I’ll be checking out some of his book, I suggest you do the same.

One more tease before the story, I got pages 1-17 of Elk’s Run #3 back from Keating all nicely colored – he did something beautiful. I’m not going to show them yet, we’re putting together all our press-packs and what not now, but when you see them you will most likely explode. All over your fucking monitor - blood and guts. It’s going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

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My friend Max was always the wild child of our group. He was the one with Mohawks and the guitars and the skateboarding beyond the Junior High School years. Junior Year in High School he put his angst on public display and became the bass player for his first band, Celtic Idiom.

Celtic Idiom was a four piece Irish freedom-fighter punk band led by this German guy that just sort of screamed melodically.

Yeah, you read that right, the lead singer for an Irish Freedom fighter punk band was German. Although, he did have blonde hair that looked red under certain lights and he was a heavy guy, I’m sure he loved his complex carbohydrates including potatoes and Guinness, he could pull off Irish.

Max couldn’t. Max was so German looking that when Jews saw him they ran away. They always had him to the back of the stage.

The drummer was just sort of white. If I remember correctly he was a mutt, sure as fuck wasn’t pure Irish.

Now the guitar player was a glorious Irish kid. You look at him and you think his name was Shamus McShamus. He was always at the front of the stage, rocking out.

One Irish member wasn’t enough to have an Irish Freedom Fighter punk band – they were more like Irish Freedom Fighter and Three Supporters. But, you know, whatever.

They weren’t the best punk band to ever play, obviously (I mean, no-one’s better than Greenday – Just kidding, Chris), but they were good for some serious moshing. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what we did at their first show.

For most of us, including myself, Celtic Idioms’ fist show was the first time we heard them play. It was in some dive on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn, don’t remember anything about it. The only people there were kids from Midwood High School. Celtic Idiom takes the stage and we start cheering for them. They start rocking out and we start our heads bobbing and eventually we get aggressive.

Since the place wasn’t very crowded the mosh pit was more like some weird-ass gladiator exercise. People got running starts and wailed into an unsuspecting fellow mosher from behind, knocking him face first onto the ground. Cracking people while they were on their knees. It was basically a big fucking fight in front of a stage, set to punk music.

I was in the pit as well until I notice MP stop by. This was at the begging of the school year, I haven’t seen MP yet. We flirted around towards the end of Sophomore year in our History class but she was going to Italy for the entire summer to see her family so she wanted to be commitment free.

We talked for a bit, I asked her if we were still on and she said yes. We started making out, punk rock in the background, bodies flying and I’m so sore I can hardly lift my arms. Celtic Idiom might not have inspired me to free occupied Ireland, but I got some play, and that makes the band ok in my book.

Oh, but I’m not done with Celtic Idiom yet:

After the show we all purchased their tape. I listened to it when I got home and that’s when I realized how bad they were. With tracks like 27+6=1, Hippy-crit and Cold Pizza, Warm Beer you kind of realize how all over the road they were. And when you combine it with a big German guy shouting:

Free occupied Ireland! Irish freedom fighters shout!

You know they’re destined for absolutely nothing. Eventually their guitar player left the band. You would think that, if a band called Celtic Idiom lost their only Irish guy, they would pack it in. Instead, the singer played guitar and they became a three piece.

Max’s response to this?

This is exactly how Nirvana started.

Celtic Idiom isn’t around anymore, six Irish counties are still occupied, Kurt Corbain is dead and U2 is selling iPods. Rock & Roll, baby. Rock & Roll.

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Diggidy Dorks

Monday, May 23, 2005

Awesome.
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Before I start this story I would just like to point out that half-way through it, Microsoft’s spell checker fucking killed itself.

My friend Tony, the kid that came from Oklahoma City and claimed to represent the Crips (that’s right, Oklahoma was hard), had dreams that went beyond mine and David’s. Whereas David and I were perfectly content sitting on his stoop and blasting Boogie Down Productions, NWA or Heavy D, Tony wasn’t content with just listening to hip-hop – he felt we should start a rap group.

So here we were, Tony from Oklahoma City and founding member of the Brooklyn faction of the Four-Deuce Bishop Crips, David from Ecuador, left back in the first grade, his only known talent was the ability to spit out inhuman gobs of saliva and me, the white Puerto Rican that wanted to name our group “Excalibur”.

I don’t know what name we finally went with. The name didn’t matter back then; we were probably “Da Woodhull Boyz” for all I know. What mattered back then was the image; you needed something that really broke new ground, something that people would talk about for at least a month. Unfortunately, for us, we were thirteen years old and had no creative juice at this point.

Rhyme style. Das Efx was pretty cool back then. They would do this stutter-rhyme like so:

Riggidy roar!
Ziggidy Gadzuks Here I go so
Fliggedy flame on g-geronimo, yo
I biggedy burn riggedy rubber when I blabber great
I miggedy make the Wonder Twins deactivate


We decided we should stutter-rap too. But, we didn’t want to be compared to Das Efx, right? So whereas Das Efx had this “Straight from the Sewers” theme, we decided to be “Straight from the Rooftops”. All of our videos would be on rooftops. We even made a song called “Straight from the Rooftops”. We weren’t anything like Das Efx. Siggidy Sewers/Riggidy Rooftops – Appidy-Apples/Orggady-Oranges.

So we had that down and we started writing rhymes. David couldn’t rap (as in, he rapped worse than Tony and I, and we sucked) but he did one hell of a Flavor Flavimpersonation. So, David would come in between verses and say, “YEAAAAAHHHH BOOOOYYYYY!”

So, a typical song would go:

Jason
I’m stiggidy straight from the riggidy rooftops
I driggidy drink siggidy soda pop
So gividdy give me ‘nuff priggidy-prig props
Or I’ll sliggidy slap you with my fliggidy-fliggin’ flip-flops

Dave
YEEAAHHHHHH BOOOYYYYYY!

Tony
Oh, so, higgidy here I giggidy go,
You figgidy feel my fucking flow
Like jiggidy-jo, fliggidy flo-jo
The riggidy running ho

Dave
Yo, yo Jason! We just gettin’ this shit started BOOOYYYYYYYY!


We were that good. Actually, we were probably worse.

Once we had our style, theme and rhymes it came down to clothes. And here’s where it gets really bad. Kris Kross was wearing their clothes backwards. So, we decided to wear ours inside out.

Inside. Out.

As in we flipped our clothes (pants, shirts, jackets and hats) inside out and walked around Red Hook like that, rapping.

I will sell my soul to Satan in exchange for the demo tape we made.

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Enjoy Some Art and Family Business

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I have to share the cover of Elk’s Run #4, it is so goddamn good. Datsun Tran folks, please hire this man:


And while you’re looking at beautiful stuff – Jorge Vega and Thorsten Ebert’s THE COAT is like an ocular explosion:




And while we’re at it, fellow conspirator Jacob Warrenfeltz has been impressing the fuck out of me:


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Finishing up the week of stories about my mom’s side of the family…

After Uncle Mike died there was a whole lot of anger in my mom. She didn’t talk to Aunt Jackie, her sister, for a couple of years. At one point Nanny, who generally stays out of people’s business, called my mom and told her to “cut the shit”. Sisters shouldn’t fight for this long, that’s the way it goes.

The circumstances around them talking again were, well, more of the same and completely fucked. My mom got a phone call one day from Aunt Jackie’s husband – Aunt Jackie had a heart attack.

Three days ago.

I drove with my mom out to Staten Island and, despite how god natured and loving my momma usually is, the entire ride consisted of her saying over and over again, “That son of a bitch better not be there or I’ll throw him out of that fucking hospital window.” I said it earlier this week; you don’t want to get on my mom’s bad side. She will fuck you up.

The son of a bitch in question wasn’t there, he was from Red Hook, I’m sure he heard the stories about my mom’s thirst for blood when she gets all riled up.

My Aunt Jackie looked like shit. You can tell she had it bad. I believe she was scheduled to get a quadruple bypass. My mom’s side of the family is prone to Coronary Artery Disease. My mom has it, my Aunt Jackie has it as did Nanny. Outside of the immediate family some of the distant relatives had it as well; I even lost a cousin at 24 years old that had it (didn’t know her too well). So, with my Aunt Jackie, combine CAD with smoking and red meat and you get one fucking massive heart attack.

After a couple of minutes of crying and hugging my mom gets right down to it.

“Why wasn’t I called three days ago.” The answer wasn’t easy for her to take.

“[My husband] thought that we should keep it within the family until I got my strength back.”

Keep it within the family. I’m generally oblivious to insults, it’s like my main weakness, I never know when I’m being insulted – but when my Aunt Jackie said that even I said, “Oh snap!”

The thing is, Aunt Jackie didn’t even get what was wrong with what she said. My mom called her on it though and through clenched teeth she said, “I am family!” I honestly thought my mom was going to strangle her with the IV tube.

There is a big difference between my father’s family and my mom’s. True, they both fight a lot. And true, they usually get over it. But with my mom’s side, family is local. You have your spouse and your kids – that’s your family. Outside of that is second tier. My father’s side – You got your spouse and your kids, your brothers and sisters and their spouses and kids, your cousins and their spouses and kids and your good friends and their spouses and kids. Everything outside of that is second tier but you still treat them like first tier.

I think after being married to my father for (I believe) eighteen years at that point and getting accustomed to his family and the way it works, my Aunt Jackie’s remark was the most hurtful thing she could have said – even if she was only repeating what her husband told her.

But my mom swallowed it down, took it, and stayed around to talk to her sister for the first time in over a year.

And when we were leaving and we saw my cousin Jackie and my mom said to her, “You should have called me” and Jackie responded, “We wanted to keep it within the family at first,” my mom once again took it and hugged my cousin and told her to take care of her mother.

But when she saw the husband in the lobby, no sleep, eyes black, looking worse than my Aunt Jackie, and he came up to say hello, she didn’t even ask him anything. But she was the bigger person; she just walked right past him.

When we got to the car I tried to lighten the mood by taking a shot at the husband. My mom’s response was inspiring, in a word.

“He’ll take care of her. No matter how much of an asshole he is, he’ll do anything for her. He loves her so much.”

And that’s my mom.

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WToT4 and Uncle Mike

Silver Bullet Comic’s All The Rage claims Western Tales of Terror #4 has a “Has A 'Per Un Pugno Di Dollari' Factor of Eight Out of Ten”. Follow the link for a five page preview of the story by Joshua Hale Fialkov with pencils by Mark Dos Santos and grays by Marlena Hall. Western Tales #4 will be in stores in three weeks and also features stories from Stuart Moore, Saul Colt and Jon Hook with art by Joseph Bergin III, Jason Copland and Jared Bivens. If you’re retailer didn’t order it due to a protein deficiency or a couple of missing chromosomes, drop this order form off to him today. Do it. Do it.

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Continuing the week of stories about my momma's family...

When my cousin John came back from Desert Storm he visited our house first. Him and my mom were always close and I remember answering the door and seeing him standing there in full desert fatigue, carrying a duffle bag, smile stretched across his face. He came upstairs and we shat the shit for a bit. He was a printer in the army, making propaganda pamphlets that were dropped on the Iraqis, and he gave me a whole bunch of them.

Funny story: of the twenty or so pamphlets he gave me two of them were repeated but on a heavy cardboard stock. I asked him why; apparently those were the original printing but when dropped out of planes they didn’t separate. Instead they fell to the ground like bricks, giving new meaning to the “surrender or die” propaganda philosophy.

Anyway, John wanted to call Uncle Mike almost immediately so we did. Uncle Mike came over, no idea John was home. We set up my dads video camera so that it was hooked up to the TV, streaming the feed, and aimed at John who was sitting on our couch, back towards were Uncle Mike would enter the apartment. Uncle Mike comes in, says his hellos, notices the back of John’s head, and comes in to see who’s sitting on the couch, notices the TV and freaks out.

Laughing, crying, hugging – my Uncle Mike was a big dude; a hug from him was a bear hug every time. And he was picking John off the ground and swinging him around. My Uncle Mike was the happy-go-lucky darling of the family and times like this, you catch him in his raw form; it was inspiring to see him like that. Later that day I asked him to be my sponsor for confirmation (a big deal for us catholic types). I didn’t plan on asking him but I was just caught up in the moment, Uncle Mike was a great guy and you just saw it on that day.

The next day I regretted my decision. Uncle Chris (on my pop’s side) had more money. I figured he could get me a better present or something. I asked my mom if I could change my mind and she said that there was no-way in hell. Reluctantly, I decided to stick with Uncle Mike.

We never really bonded before so he decided he wanted to take me out. We went to get White Castle first, pretty standard bonding experience, and then took his beat-up ‘ole station wagon down to Melody Lanes to do some bowling. He was trying to prove how hip he was and popped a tape into the deck that had JAMBONEY (little help here, can't find the actual name of the song or how to spell "jamboney") on it, asked me if I liked that song. I pretended to like it.

We had a good time that night and the subsequent bonding outings. Come confirmation time he showed up to the house with a big bandage over his hand. I asked him if he was hurt and he explained that he wanted to cover up his spider-tattoo since that’s the hand he needed to put on my shoulder. And that was Uncle Mike in a nutshell – awkward and always aiming to please.

Confirmation came and went and in the months that followed we got closer and closer.

That Christmas we went to my Aunt Jackie’s house. Usual good time had by all – good food, entertainment, and hijinx. As the night started coming to a close, my Aunt’s husband pulled my father to the side and told him that Uncle Mike was admitted to the hospital earlier that day. Uncle Mike loved his Budweiser and it caught up to him – his liver had failed.

My father was distraught, he told my mother. My mother instantly asked why they’re being told this now, so late at night. He told us that he thought it was best we enjoyed Christmas together without worrying, as a family. Uncle Mike would have wanted it that way.

My family piles into our car and heads back to Brooklyn without saying another word to my Aunt Jackie and her family – we actually didn’t say a word to any of them for some time after that.

By the time we get to the hospital Uncle Mike is in a coma. His girlfriend is there, alone. She was there all day with him as he slowly lost consciousness. Alone.

My Uncle Mike slipped into a coma thinking no one in the family even cared enough to come see him except for his girlfriend. Two days later he died. If we’d showed up a couple of hours earlier we would’ve been there for his last conscious thought, he would have known we cared. We never got to say goodbye.

I don’t give a fuck what you say your fear is. Sharks, buried alive, whatever. Worst fucking way to die is realizing nobody gives a shit. And that’s how my Uncle Mike died.

He couldn’t have been more wrong. Over the months leading up to his death I grew so close to him. I was honored to have him as my sponsor and I know I made the right choice – Uncle Mike would have been there for me no-matter what. Rich Uncle Chris, well, he was having problems back then. Uncle Mike was just raw goodness. And one of his last conscious thoughts was undoubtedly “why doesn’t my family care.”

The man deserved better.

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Progressive Ruin and Staten Island, The Eternal Ruin

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mike Sterling’s Progressive Ruin has become a daily stop for me – it’s fun to see the world through the eyes of, from what I can tell, a responsible comic shop owner. I could say the same about James Sime from The Isotope but I imagine seeing through his eyes is occasionally blurry, what with the Johnny Walker Blue Label, or whatever he drinks (EDIT: I was informed by Larry Young that James isn't much of a drinker, but he is much of a God). I also firmly believe that James sees everything plated in gold, because he’s a marketing genius, and that type of vision gets a bit intimidating. But I digress, today Mike shared some gems from the past about his shop, nice little stories of 1990s comic shopping. Worth checking out.

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My Aunt Jackie and her family lived out in Staten Island, an island made of kryptonite for any Brooklyn born youth. Staten Island is just ugly – the landfill, the mall, the zoo, the 9 to 1 ratio of whites to non-whites and the overpriced Verrazano Bridge that only charges you when entering Staten Island, as if trying to limit their visitors. It has no redeeming value.

But, we’d go out there at least monthly to spend some time with the family because the family sure as well wasn’t coming to Brooklyn (Staten Islanders hate Brooklyn). The trip over there was never too bad. When I was younger we’d play a game going over the Verrazano, inspired by the original Donkey Kong game, where whoever saw a Verrazano Bridge ladder (they’re sprinkled throughout) first had to shout “There he is!” in order to get a point (“he” being an imaginary Mario). My parents usually let me win but if Nanny was in the car with us none of us stood a chance, she was ruthless. So I at least had that to look forward to.

Once we got to Aunt Jackie’s house there was plenty to do. They always barbequed while the kids played in the pool. Having a pool to swim in was a dream come true for a kid from Red Hook and I usually spent the entire day in it. All we had back home was the Red Hook Pool. I have no idea what that pool is like now but back in the day it was what I imagine a pool would be like in a prison. And if I where in a prison, I would be the bitch from day one. Not the best way to spend the day.

I had an irrational fear of sharks attacking me when I was alone in Aunt Jackie’s pool, however. My plan to spend the whole day swimming was occasionally cut short because I wasn’t able to see every square inch of the pool’s floor at all times. I honestly though a portal would open up and shark would swim through and eat me. Which, I admit, was better than getting ass-raped in the Red Hook Pool; the shark attack was a risk I took from time to time.

My Aunt Jackie’s house has an interesting history. While digging for the pool they come across a tombstone that was buried in their yard for a man named John Finn. Having no idea what to do with the tombstone, they simply set it up in the corner of the yard. People would always ask who “John Finn” was and the answer would usually get them out of the pool – we all saw Poltergeist. There were stories about the house being haunted, messages written on the bathroom mirror when someone takes a steamy shower. My cousin John had “Thou Shall Not Kill” scratched several times into his doorframe, apparently like that when they moved in. He said when they try to cover it up it would always come back. All the stories seemed to be someone in the house playing a prank on someone else.

At the end of my Aunt Jackie’s block there was this little beach. No one would go swimming there, the water was way too rocky and the sand itself was a mixture of rock, sand, glass and beer bottles. But to the right of the beach was this awesome collection of huge rocks that stretched for about a quarter mile until reaching a larger beach. The rocks were great for climbing and one of them was sort of shaped like a captain’s chair and we’d use it as the centerpiece of some Star Trek role-playing. I was never the captain, unfortunately. One you cross over the rock formation you get to the bigger beach which was made of actual sand but the shore was littered with horseshoe crabs.

Around the corner was a little wooded area that the neighborhood kids took over. The cleared out a kick-ass dirt bike path and there were tree-houses scattered throughout. The wooded area was a great place for hide and seek or bottle rocket wars – we’d put bottle rockets in the holes at the bottom of waffle ball bats, light them up and shoot them at people.

They had a nice big TV, plenty of movies and video game systems. John had a computer before I did, a Commodore 64, and we’d play Goonies on it and other fine games – he also had a tarantula (which is a rite of passage for all Staten Island males) which I thought was bad ass – all I had was a cat. They had a fireplace which was absolutely mind blowing; only rich people have fireplaces. They had two bathrooms – TWO – our one bathroom is the size of most people’s closets.

Every kid had their own room. When Elizabeth was born we had to put up a false wall in my parents room so she had a place to sleep. As she grew up she started platooning between my parent’s room and my room. The day I went to college (she was seven) she moved into my room and finally had some space of her own.

They had a trash compactor. They had an attic (the John once told me had ghosts in it so I never entered). They had about fifty picture frames on the wall of their hallway that was about half the size of our apartment. They had a table in their kitchen that wasn’t the dining room table.

Aunt Jackie’s house, for me, was a place of wonders. Until this one Christmas. But that’s tomorrow’s story.

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Frank Frazetta and Florida

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

My group, the DC Conspiracy, is having our first road trip on June 18th. We’re going to the Frazetta museum in Pennsylvania since we’re all pretty big fans of his work – it seemed like the logical trip. So we’ll be taking a few cars, driving up, taking in the artwork and meeting with Frank Frazetta for a chat.

Yeah, you heard me right. We’re meeting with Frank Frazetta. Matt Dembicki, DCC founding member and the man behind WASP comics has been working this for the past week with Mr. Frazetta’s manager, who just happens to be Mrs. Frazetta. Thank you, Matt. It’s not everyday one can score some face-time with a living legend.

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Continuing the week of stories about my mom's side of the family...

We used to drive down to Florida every other year to visit the family. By the time I got a little older Nanny joined Aunt Annamae and Uncle Auggie down there and trips to Florida were always coupled with a disappointing trip to South of the Border (yet we stopped there every time) and occasionally an excursion to Orlando to do Disney World.

Besides pre-planned breaks, my father never wanted to stop the car, making the drive down horrible. We would sometimes rest at a hotel and split the drive in half but usually he only pulled-over when he needed gas and we took care of everything during those breaks – bathroom and food. I have a vivid memory of my father yelling at me for being a baby because I wouldn’t pee in the empty water bottle.

Whereas the ride down wasn’t the most fun in the world, it was usually a great time being there. Go-karts, bowling, hanging out with my cousins and the obligatory trip to Weeki Wachi to watch the mermaids and go to the water park next door.

Cousins John and Jerry always made me feel a little more grown up than I was. I remember when they heard me curse, I said “shit”, and they just laughed about it. My cursing wasn’t bad, it was funny. I’d play their video games and watch horror movies with them and hang out with them and their friends – good times.

One summer Nanny got sick and my mom went down to help out. I tagged along, flew down with my mother. This trip was a bit different than the past trips.

There’s a moment when you realize that childhood innocence isn’t a viable excuse for stupidity anymore. For me, it was this trip to Florida.

I was playing around with a camera for the first time, learning how to shoot black and white on my pops old Pentax. I went with my cousins Auggie and Samantha down and around the neighborhood to take some shots. My cousin Auggie informed me that there was a bowling alley nearby that was recently shut down where I could get some bad-ass pictures. He was right; I got this one for instance, not bad for a 13 year-old (of course, I never really improved).

Abandoned bowling alleys on the wrong side of town isn’t the best place to wander into, however. Luckily for me, upon exiting the alley, I was confronted with the poorest excuse for thugs I’ve yet to witness.

They pulled up to the alley in an Iroc-Z, rolling four deep, thugs as white as my momma’s ass. They stepped out of the car, clothes all baggy and hats tilted to the side. The thing is - they were probably around my age – 13 years old, 14 tops. And I was a freakishly tall 13 year old and these guys were all at least a foot shorter than me. I didn’t feel intimidated at any point.

The ring leader, who was also the shortest of the bunch, wearing a Charles Barkley jersey and a Hornets hat, got right up in my grill and pointed to some graffiti on the alley wall.

“That shit right there. That means you were just trespassing on our property.”

“Sorry, didn’t realize it.” I was just trying to walk away peacefully, no beef with the humorous, cliched punks.

“Well, we’re gonna have to take your bike.” I was shocked. Even with four of these guys, they had to of known I could probably hold my own if not absolutely house them.

“You’re not taking the bike.” At this point, the ringleader grabs my bike and pulls the handlebar, I pull back. And he stumbles forward, almost falls. At this point his friend starts to say he should just let this one go. But he’s persistent, reminds me again what the graffiti means.

“Look, I’m just visiting from Brooklyn, I don’t know what your tags mean.”

“Oh, you think you’re hard because you’re from Brooklyn.” Short answer would have been yes. Long answer would have been, ‘No, I get my ass handed to me in Brooklyn. But bitches from Brooklyn will easily handle thugs from Port Ritchie any day of the fucking week.’

“Dude. You’re not taking the bike.” We stare each other down for five seconds and I get let-off with a warning. Auggie tells me that, next time, I should do what they say because all these assholes pack heat. I tell him a gun’s only good if you got the balls to fire it, playing up my hardcore Brooklyn roll I just slipped in to.

We get back to Nanny’s house and my mom is waiting outside for me. She tells me to get into the rental car; we’re going out for dinner. We go to McDonalds, by ourselves. She gets on the payphone, calls my dad. I’m in the car and my mom is crying. She gets back in the car; I ask her what’s wrong.

She tells me that everything is OK; we’re just staying in a hotel tonight. We leave town tomorrow, we’ll go to the airport straight from the hotel.

We sit in the car, neither of us saying a word but my mom is still crying. I ask her again what happened.

The family needed help. The stupid kind of help. The type of help that my mom couldn’t deliver on. Money stuff, but money for something stupid with a price-tag above my families head. So she said she couldn’t help.

And she got the business.

Talk of how she comes around flaunting her money, showing off. About how rich she was and how she can’t even help the family out when they need it.

About how she doesn’t care about the family, the biggest insult you can direct towards my mother.

As I said in previous conversations, my family sheltered me from this shit. Everything with our family was dandy and we weren’t poor. We weren’t rich but we got everything we wanted.

Truth was, I got everything I wanted and it was because my father busted his ass to shelter me from reality. But I didn’t know that.

“I don’t understand why you just can’t help them out.”

My mom couldn’t even answer. She just cried harder. We got to the hotel, she cried. I went in the pool, swam, watched some TV and went to bed. We didn’t say anything the rest of the night.

That was the moment that childhood innocence was no longer an excuse for my stupidity and I fucking realized how shitty it all really was.

Florida was never the same again.

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Secrets Posted, Hot Kids and La Famiglia

Monday, May 16, 2005

A couple of quick plugs before we get to the goods. First off, someone at the Isotope boards directed me to Post Secret. What an amazing fucking art project. People send in a postcard with a secret on it that they never told anyway. Raw honesty, every single one of them heartbreaking despite how scary or funny they might be.

Also, in case anyone is interested, over at the Isotope board we are trying to prove that comic fans love books as much as comics. Today starts our first monthly book club, we’ll be reading Elmore Leonard’s THE HOT KID. If you feel like discussing it with us, go read the book; discussions will soon.
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This week is all about my mom’s side of the family – the D*Porte family. Last month I spent a week on my father’s side and you can read those stories here: La Familia, La Casa, La Invasion de Boston, La Carta, y El Funeral. Like I did during that week, I’m going to start with a rundown of the family.

My grandfather, Jackie (whom we all call Poppy), was a World War II hero. Here’s a picture of his medals that were actually recovered when his house burnt down – there were more. Poppy has a story that’s dying to be told but, unfortunately, most of it is rumor and hearsay, Poppy died when I was one years old.

He married Margaret (whom we called Nanny) after the war. Story goes; the family found out Poppy was fooling around in France while Nanny was waiting at home for him. Poppy’s father (I believe) bought an engagement ring for Nanny, told her it was from Poppy, and then sent Poppy a letter saying he’s now engaged and he better start acting like it.

He opened a bar down in Red Hook called Gabes and he became a neighborhood legend. He would always do for the people in the neighborhood – giving away a sizable portion of his money to help them out. As a result, when he died, the family wasn’t well taken care-of. But that’s the way the man was, he gave and gave and gave and never realized that he had people he needed to provide for. There’s such a thing as too good of a heart.

Annamae is their oldest daughter. She married Uncle Jerry and had two kids – John and Jerry. You will notice a “J” theme with my cousins’ names, all of the aunts and uncles swear it was unintentional.

One of my earliest memories is my family going over to my Aunt Annamae’s house at around eleven at night. They were getting out of New York, escaping in the middle of the night, and going to Florida. My family does that, they escape New York. For my father’s side my Uncle Alex went to Arizona to get cleaned up, my Aunt Sophie followed her husband to Virginia to escape a beef. My Aunt Annamae had to escape a beef and the bills. I remember sitting around while everyone was crying, my mom kept asking her why she had to leave.

They’re all still in Florida. John has a family of his own, a great wife and two incredible kids. He does some top-notch tat-work as well. John served in Desert Storm, as a printer, just like my dad. Jerry was an amazing bowler and probably could have gone pro.

The second oldest is my Aunt Jackie. She married and had three kids – John, Jackie and Jillian. Jackie and I were incredibly close growing up, up until puberty hit. Now we’re pretty close again but recent developments in the family have caused us to drift apart somewhat. There’s a fair amount of tension between my family and Aunt Jackie’s husband, a couple of incidents throughout the years and a particularly ugly one going on right now involving my parents’ house.

The next oldest was Uncle Mike. Uncle Mike was my sponsor for confirmation. He’ll be getting his own day this week, so I won’t talk too much about him now. I will say that he was one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known but he also liked his alcohol too much. He died two days after his liver failed on Christmas day. We weren’t notified until later on, one of the original points of contention alluded to with Aunt Jackie’s family, and by the time we got to the hospital he was already in a coma. Uncle Mike was never married and had no kids. His longtime girlfriend – Lorrie – was, basically, his wife.

Next up is Uncle Auggie. Uncle Auggie is an interesting story. The guy just has no luck. He’s not a bad a guy, he loves his family and he loves his kids but he’s always getting into trouble.

He had a kid, Jeanine, with his first wife. Her mother hid her from Uncle Auggie and the family and, up until two years ago, no-one in the family knew where she was. We found her recently in one of those crazy fate stories where she just happened to be in a hospital talking to somebody who knew my mom. Jeanine hangs with my family now quite often; she actually lives on Long Island (Uncle Auggie escaped to Florida before Aunt Annamae did, Jeanine was born there).

Uncle Auggie has custody of his other kids, Auggie and Samantha. Uncle Auggie, himself, is always in and out of jails and since my Nanny died, I honestly can’t say I even know where he lives now. Samantha had a child very young, I believe at 14, and Auggie is following in his father’s footsteps.

But the thing is, you talk to that guy, and you like him. He’s not a bad guy; he just never made the right decisions. The real shame – he can draw his ass off. If he was clean I would be putting his ass to work right now.

After Uncle Auggie comes my mom, Margaret, the youngest of the D*Porte kids. My mom is so unlike the rest of her family. She’s just sweet as fuck, never will hurt anyone and will do anything anyone asks. She is her father’s daughter without any doubt.

But she also has her tough side. She was dating some guy Cookie, for instance, and caught him making out with some other chick in his car. She responded by picking up a heavy, old-school garbage pail and smashing it though Cookie’s windshield – my mom will fuck you up if you get on her bad side.

So, that’s the family. It’s kind of funny, both my mom and dad where born and raised in Red Hook – my dad was the oldest son of a poor family and my mom was the youngest daughter of a well-off family. They both lost a brother; they both had sister’s that fled New York and a second brother with a shady, occasionally criminal past. Fate? I don’t believe in it but it makes for a great story.

My mother and father are the only two people on both sides of the family that still live in Red Hook. Keeping it real.

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I'm gonna make you a comic shop you can't refuse

Friday, May 13, 2005

Since my story today is about comics, I’m going to skip my plug. As a primer, I will say that the book that got me hooked on comics as a kid was Infinity Gauntlet #4. Before then, I was a very casual collector, stopping by a shop occasionally, grabbing some comics off of spinners. When I saw Iron Man’s head get torn off and Thor smashed into tiny pieces and Wolverine turned to putty, I marched right to a comic shop and started a pull-list because I wasn’t going to miss shit like that again. That phase of my life only lasted a few years, however, as I left comics, became a casual reader again in Boston, left comics and am a casual read today. Thank God for trades and graphic novels.

Growing up there were five comic shops that I could have called home. The first one was METRO COMICS in Brooklyn Heights. Metro Comics was probably my favorite store but it was about two miles away and too far of hike for my weeklies. There was a comic shop on Seventh Avenue with a name that escapes me that was even farther than Metro Comics that I went too a few times in Junior High School when taking this dope forensics class at John Jay High School.

The other three comic shops were all within easy walking distance. THE DUGOUT was on Smith Street, before Smith Street was all trendy, and I really had no desire to ever go there. Most of my friends went there, however, but the guy that owned the shop overcharged for everything and focused way too much on baseball cards and collectors items. He was a prospector through and through and I’ll never forget the time I went in there and he had X-Force #1 behind the counter and marked up to five dollars the week it came out. Scumbag.

While my friends were going to The Dugout I set up shop in this place on Kane and Henry Street that I honestly don’t think even had a name. It was everything you’d expect from a comic shop. Small, a little dingy, the owner ran the place and taught karate at night. Stereotypical joint. It was nice, I loved going there for my weeklies and talking with the owner who rarely said a word but listened with that blank stare that as an adult I can tell was a sure sign of eventual suicide.

And then Mannix moved into the neighborhood. Mannix was a shop that had no name, it was a small shop with all black walls, hardly any lights, hardly any back-issues, owned by this guy whose last name was Mannix and run by Mannix’s brother (I believe), Joe. You never saw Mannix, he would occasionally enter the shop briskly and enter the back room. As a kid, Mannix was a cool shop. It was mysterious, they had arcade games, the guy who ran it was in his thirties, acted like a kid and was always eating Philly Cheese Steaks.

Rumors started spreading early, however, that the place was a mafia front. Almost every place in Carroll Gardens was at some point called a mafia front because almost every place in Carroll Gardens was run by Italians. But this place was different. When the rumors started circulating it sort of made sense to a lot of us. It was just dark. There lack of back-issues was indicative of the fact that they didn’t have any comics going into the business. Mannix himself had no clue, obviously didn’t read books and always went into the backroom. The arcade game sort of breaks the “get them in and get them out” mentality you get with a mafia front but at the same time, it helps to get them in and make them look legitimate. Especially when they had Terminator 2 Pinball.

So, we started believing the rumors. So did our parents and they became weary about us going there which basically made it an even cooler place to shop. We’d stick around longer, hoping the cop would raid the place while we were there or, if we were really lucky, we’d witness a shootout, Mannix coming out of the backroom and face to face with a Tommy Gun, his blood spraying all over the Gold-Cover Deathmate #1 Variants, falling over and pulling the shelf of Chromium Cover Bloodshot goodness with him.

Nothing cool ever happened and I can’t say I have proof they were a mafia front. The shop only lasted a year. By the time they closed down the joint on Kane and Henry closed down as well, I think the owner wanted to put more time into his karate classes. Or he killed himself, whatever. There was no way in hell I was going to go to the Dugout and have that asshole push STARTING LINEUP figures on me. So, I gave up comics for a while. Returned to them in Boston because Comicopia was close to my place, gave them up again when I moved and now, well, now I like them. Obviously. Big Planet Comics, Georgetown, in case you’re wondering.

But I’ll never find a shop as cool as Mannix again. Just picturing a bunch of mafiosa guys in the back, figuring out how many XO-Manowar #0’s they should get and how to get there hands on more Death of Superman books is, quite possibly, the very definition of a perfect image.

Next week I’m going back to the swords and devoting the week to my mom’s side of the family. It will be just like the week devoted to my pop’s side of the family except with five times the arrests, three times the heart attacks and six times the lawsuits!

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H&B Blowin' Up, Baseball and Type-Herb

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Got Elk’s Run 2 off to the printer, WTOT 4 is basically ready, waiting on some ads from our dear friends. Keep your eyes open for Hoarse & Buggy; we have some exciting shit going down in the next couple of months. I’m telling you though; aside from our two books we’re planning on putting out soon we have even bigger news on the horizon. I hate getting all cryptic and I wish I could say more but just stay tuned.

As far as my shit goes, I finished the baseball story and the first (of five) scripts. Still interviewing artists, went through a few people. The problem is, the artist has to know baseball and his shit has to be hot. I originally though the baseball thing wasn’t crucial but, if you can get around the language barrier, there are still a bunch of things that just get missed. The little things a fan notices. How to grip a bat, pitcher’s delivery, runner standing at the ready, batter digging in at the plate, a catcher’s hand signals…there’s just a lot of shit that makes the whole process easier with an artist that knows baseball. So, seriously, if any of you guys know someone available that can do the chores on a book like this and might be interested, hook a brother up. I know there are plenty of you out there, time to help my ass out. I’ll keep looking but leads would be super-sweet – even if you know somebody that might know somebody.

________

My friend called me a “herb” yesterday.

A herb.

I haven’t been called a herb in at least a decade nor have I heard anyone call anybody else a herb. For the record, it’s herb as in the name “Herb”, not as in “herbs and spices.” That type of herb is and always will be slang for weed. The kind of herb I’m talking about is slang for dork. And it got me thinking, what other ghetto slang terms where popular in the late-80s, early 90s but just didn’t make it beyond that? With Jorge Vega’s help, we compiled a list. Now, some of these words might have first come on the scene before my time or might still be in use today. I just know that I’ve never (or rarely) heard them outside of the time period I’m talking about. This isn’t really a story, per-se, but it’s relevant to the theme of this blog. And plus, there’s a couple of stories mixed in.

Skins (n.) – Pussy. “Julio hoped to hit the skins on his date with Mita”

Jimmy hat (n.) – Condom. “Julio grabbed his jimmy hats, since Mita is a prime candidate for the H.I.V.”

I’m reminded of when Tony, Dave and I used to sit on Dave’s stoop, blasting KRS-1 on his boom box. “Jimmy” would be playing and we’d scream out “The J, the I, the M, the M, the Y, the J, the I, the M…it’s Jimmmmyyyyy! It’s Jimmmmmyyyyy!” Our neighbors would poke their heads out of the window and yell at us to turn the boom box off. They didn’t realize that:

When Jimmy releases boy it pleases
But what do you do about all these diseases?
Jimmy is Jimmy no matter what
So take care of Jimmy ‘cause you know what's up
’Cause now in winter, AIDS attacks
So run out and get your Jimmy Hats
It costs so little for a pack of three
They're Jimmy Hats for the winter attack


Knockin’ Boots (v.) – Having sex. “Once at Mita’s house, Julio began knockin’ the boots.”

Fly (adj.) – Good looking. “Mita was fly, but not as fly as Mariah Carey.”

Word life (adj.) – Correct. “Word life, you know I hit them skins.”

Gimme some dap – Slap my hand five; give me some props. “Oh shit! My man hit them skins! Gimme some dap, son!”

Mom-dukes (n.) – Mother. “Word son, them skins was tight. I gotta roll, mom-dukes is gonna be pissed.”

Mom-dukes is actually short for Mom-a-dukes, which is what I called my mom. I still do, sometimes. My boy G, on the other hand, uses Mom-dukes.

Heads (n.) – People. “But yo, Julio, you wore your jimmy hat, right? Cause at least thirty heads got up in those skins.”

Yeah Mike – A sarcastic expression of disbelief. “Thirty heads? Yeah Mike!”

Yeah Mike was a term used mainly by Beastie Boys fans, I think. It was more of a white thug thing than black/latino thug thing. Along the same lines was “Sike your mind.” Siking somebody’s mind was like the worst thing in the world. Someone would trick you and say, “Sike your mind!” and you would get so fucking upset. “Yeah, Mike! You didn’t sike my mind!”

Smells (n.) – Cologne. “I’m serious, doo. She fucked Jay-Jay cause she liked his smells.”

In Junior High I heard someone use a word that I’ve never heard used before or ever again and I think he might have been trying it out. A thug walked over to my friend, while in the locker-room, and said, “Yo, son, I’m snorkeling your smells.” My friend had no idea what the fuck the guy was talking about. The thug just sort of stared at him for a second and then said, “Your cologne, nigga! Run your fucking cologne!”

My friend gave up the cologne and the word “snorkel” was retired, I think. Even funnier was the fact that my friends’ “smells” was a bottle of fucking Old Spice. Either the kid didn’t know or he just assumed we were stupid enough to pack Polo or Drakar. Or Cool Water, that was big then too. When did that Michael Jordon cologne come out? That shit was nasty.

Fuck, man, I gotta do a comic about Junior High.

Audi-5 (adj.) – Gone; Leaving. “For real, son, I’m audi-5.”

My father bought an Audi once. I shit you not; we had this beat up ‘ole red monster of a car for a long time. When it died, my pops bought an Audi. It was used, but still, we were po’ folk. Po’ folk don’t get Audis. But he was so proud of it. It was stolen about two weeks later. I believe he followed it up with another used car and then a new Camry, when he started making some good money.

Type – This is my all time favorite fucking slang. I still use it whenever I can and people rarely believe that this was actually used back in the day. You use it before an adjective…I can only explain it with examples. “Yo, that girl is type-nasty.” “That dude was type-crazy.” You get it? “That car is type-fast.” It is by far the biggest waste of a syllable ever in the history of wasted syllables. And that’s why it’s genius. It’s the way a 1950s robot would talk. It’s just fucking perfect.

There are so many more. Maybe I’ll do a part II of this sometime. For now, feel free to add you own “words/phrases that never made it”.

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Quick Plug and Walkin' On By the Birds and Bees

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Don’t feel like doing a huge comic plug today, too busy banging out a baseball story. True Story, Swear To God by Tom Beland. Read it. If you like this blog I guarantee you will love that book. Honest, beautiful and just one fuck of a good story. And check out this Smoke and Guns preview over at Newsarama. Fabio Moon is dreamy and Kristen's story looks so goddamn sexy.

________

My father actually asked me once, “So, do you know about the birds and the bees?”

I’ll never forget it; we were sitting in a car outside of a drug store on Court Street, waiting for my Grandpa to come out, “Walk on By” by Dionne Warwick was playing on the radio. I knew the lyrics to it because Slick Rick used them in “Mona Lisa" and I was singing it lowly to myself while playing with a G.I.Joe.

My father turns to me and says the line above, it was so After School Special, and it must have been so hard for him to do it. I was so fucking embarrassed, I just sort of mumbled a quick “yes” which prompted him to ask me if I was sure. My second “yeah” was snappier, very pre-teen angst.

“So you know about how the penis meets the vagina and makes a baby.” It’s a lot funnier when you picture my dad saying it. It’s easy to imagine him rehearsing these ultra-cheesy lines in front of a mirror, trying to keep a straight face.

I said “yeah” one last time, a bit more subdued because the truth was, I actually thought a woman got pregnant when the penis met the mouth. I never even considered the whole penis meeting the vagina thing.

The conversation then went out of control, when he started telling me about my hormones and sex and how I’ll have urges and on and on and on. And the whole time I'm sitting there waiting for my Grandpa to get the fuck out of the drugstore, sweating my balls off while having the most uncomfortable conversation of my life.

I don’t know where my father was coached on the “bird and the bees” talk, but he even told me that there was nothing wrong with masturbation. This was in the fourth grade, I think. When you’re in the fourth grade, everything was wrong with masturbation. A completely normal insult was to tell someone they masturbated. We didn’t even know what it meant but fuck that, masturbators where dirty –- no-one wanted to be a masturbator. My father even acknowledging that masturbation existed was too fucking weird for me, I felt like he was a pervert for knowing what it was.

Anyway, my grandfather finally got back to the car and I was in the back-seat, beet-red with embarrassment, having just heard my father talk about penis, vagina, urges and masturbation.

And God, we got home, and my mother tells me, “So, I understand you and your father had a little talk.” Yes, mom. We talked about how his penis met your vagina and created me, a horny little masturbator. And I’m absolutely fine talking to you about it.

I just kind of nodded and went to my room. My parents never talked about sex again until I started mentioning it, mainly when I started dating MP and I complained to them how we (at 16 years old) were mature enough to have sex but they would never leave us alone. I’m sure my parents were real comfortable during that conversation.

What goes around comes around is what I say.

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Stuart Moore and Bootlegs

Monday, May 09, 2005

Quick plugs before getting down to business. First of all, while working on the WToT letters page with Josh for issue 4, I was once again reminded of how absolutely insane Stuart Moore’s career has been (Stuart has an 8-page story illustrated by Jason Copland). The guy has edited Preacher, Jonah Hex, Transmetropolitan, the early Marvel Knights’ books (Daredevil, Alias, Punisher) and now he’s writing some amazing books, such as Lonefor Dark Horse, Zendrafor Penny-Farthing Press and Giant Robot Warriors for Ait/PlanetLar (admittedly, haven’t checked out Para yet, but I’m sure it’s good). He takes over the writing chores on DC’s Firestorm starting June 1st, please be sure to check it out and everything he’s done in the past as well. The man was crucial to two of the best lines in comics today (Vertigo and Marvel Knights) and he really deserves your full attention (his Western Tales story is fucking awesome).

_________

I’ve talked quite extensively about how ridiculously retarded Junior High School was. Quick recap, JHS142 was 70% tough-guy black and Hispanic, 29.9% tough-guy Italian wanna-be mobster, and .1% my friends and I. And as for myself, I was a white kid with Puerto Rican heritage that alienated myself from my thug friends and mistakenly thought I had allies that would make Junior High School easier for me, both B and Nick.

All we wanted to do was fit in. In the materialistic early 90s, fitting in meant wearing the proper gear. It was a catch-22, however, because in the recession fueled early 90s, wearing the proper gear meant getting mugged.

I already told you about the jacking of Jansport strings. That shit was trivial, we had no problem with giving it up. We were more determined to hold onto other shit. Like the actual Jansport, for instance. In the Carroll Street train station my friend Jason wouldn’t give up his Jansport. So the kids that were mugging him threw him on the train tracks and refused to let him up until he tossed them his Jansport. Once he gave it up, they left him there. We had to pull him up before a train came.

I, myself, got my nose broken for my San Antonio Spurs Starter Hat. It was fitted; fitted Starter Hats were hot back then. Two kids came up to me, one went to grab the hat. I quickly grabbed onto it and wouldn’t let go. We got into a tug-a-war until his friend popped me right in the face, breaking my nose. I felt back on my ass and made my way to the school nurse, blood dripping everywhere.

So, we had to fit in but our shit kept getting robbed. So, the natural defense was to start getting low-cost bootleg clothing.

Ah, bootleg clothing. Jamsport bags and Nice sneakers. If a thug got tricked up and moved in to house your shit you stopped them by saying, “Nah, it’s bootleg.” Bootleg clothing was like kryptonite.

Now for me, it was even worse. Whereas my friends were pretty neutral in their styles and were able to wear their bootleg gear well, I thought I was straight hip-hop. My bootleg gear was fucking nasty. I’m talking weird shirts with ghetto Tweety Bird on it and zodiac signs. I’m talking fake Karl Kani jeans where a giant insignia (Karl Kani, in cursive) was ironed onto the entire left pant-leg; it took up the whole leg. I’m talking fake Damage jackets, black denim and puffy with bright blue patches covering it. These were the early-90s, these were the days of novelty rappers and African colors – which brings me to the jacket.

The infamous jacket. 9 out of 10 times, if you got out drinking with my friends, they will make fun of this jacket.

This jacket was, quite possibly, sent from heaven. It was pure comedy, the type of thing that only God himself could create. It was a trench coat, for starters. Came down to my ankles. The non-sleeve portion was divided into quarters. The top left side was purple, the top right was orange, the bottom left was green and the bottom right was black. One sleeve was black, one was green. And the hood – that’s right, the hood – was red. It was basically an African flag, oversized trench coat with a hood. And this white boy wore it to JHS 142.

And – AND – I was also rocking my new, faux-silver, real-plastic peace sign.

And I walked into that school-yard like I was the fucking man. Waltzed right up to the handball courts and thought everyone was staring at me because I had the fliest gear of all time. My friends didn’t even pretend, without hesitation they told me I was wearing the stupidest jacket ever made and I was likely to get killed for wearing it. Them haters were jealous.

I never really got shit for it. Looking back at that jacket now, the thugs either thought I was crazy and not worth fucking with or they just felt bad for me. When I go back to Brooklyn (MOCCA, most likely), I’ll be sure to dig up a picture of that jacket. You have to see it to believe it.

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Jam, Honor, Drunk, and Hanging Out On Ocean Parkway

Last night the DCC had a blast jamming away and making comics. Each participant drew a panel and passed it along to the next guy, it was good ‘ole times. We drank – a lot – and some might say the work suffered for it. I’ll let you be the judge of that, but keep in mind at least four of us had more than two pitchers each:


As a little note about the site. I did put up an Amazon Honor System box. It started when Robin said, “Between this and Hoarse & Buggy you’re working two+ hours a night on stuff you don’t get paid for.” Now, I can’t say I totally agree with her, but at the same time the Honor System box is a great way to put some more jokes into the site and, if you’re so inclined to donate, go right ahead. As you can see by the page, I have modest goals.

Below is my story for the day. Now, as I said in the introduction, I wrote it while drunk. It probably took about two hours. If I wrote it while sober, I wouldn’t be using it right now, but I think it’s pretty funny reading it, keeping in mind that the only reason I was doing it was to keep from throwing up. If this your first time to the site and you’re looking for a good, funny story, I suggest the following: The Piss Drunk Piss, Learning to Drink and The Almost Greatest Accomplishment. If you’re looking for some drama, I suggest The Gang Fight, The Day Mike Got Shot, Sentimental Bullshit, La Carta or El Funeral. Otherwise, enjoy:

______________

Short story today because, well, I was really busy this weekend, didn’t get to prepare and now I’m drunk. Makes me want to tell a story about a previous drunken encounter so, here I go…

I haven’t talked about Jackie and Mary yet because, well, I feel really bad whenever I think about them. Jackie and Mary where, hands down, my best friends in high school and college. We were just stupid tight. And to really sum up where that went, Jackie got married this summer and I wasn’t invited and even if I was, I probably wouldn’t have went. Ok, well, I probably would have but it would’ve felt really weird.

Now, I still love her to death. And, like I said, I can’t even think about her without feeling like shit BUT, being drunk, this is a good way to introduce the both of them (score one for alcohol). Because, when it comes down to it, writing my life would be incomplete without them in it, despite how shitty I feel putting them into this.

We had a restaurant we loved, on West 14th St, called La Espana (put the squiggly over the “n”, I pretty much typed every word wrong so far, went back and fixed it, and there’s no fucking way I’ll do the whole Insert->Symbol thing and find the Spanish-n -- but I’ll sure as fuck talk about not finding it, which took about five minutes. By the way, how do you like that double-dash? Comic style, baby).

Anyway, one day we went to La Espana and (keeping in mind it is really, really easy to get piss drunk without ID in New York), had a couple of Bloody Mary’s. I never had a Bloody Mary before but I ordered one as if I had and God-dammit I was gonna drink it. And I did. Actually, I drank about four of those vile, hot-sauced kicked-up drinks and didn’t complain once.

After our classy dinner, we decided to buy 40s and make our way to Washington Square Park where we sipped on malt-liquor goodness and bought some weed of a Jamaican. Because, that’s what New Yorkers do.

We drank and smoked and the went back to Jackie’s house where we had a couple of glasses of wine with Jackie’s mom, whom I often called “DJ Nelly D”, and she often laughed whenever I said it.

So. After a couple of drinks I realized I had the shits, as I often do when I drink too much. I shit twice already through out the course of writing this story. Matter of fact, I’m sitting on the bowl right now. So I went to the “half-bath” that was in the kitchen. About two minutes into my ass-explosion I spun off the bowl and started puking. I was at least able to wipe and flush, unlike the last time.

Now, this was a small bathroom. You could basically sit on the bowl and nothing more. So when I passed out on the floor, with my pants off, I was pressed up against the door which is how I passed out.

DJ Nelly D opened the door, and my underage ass spilled out onto the kitchen floor, pants off, puke all over the place.

As an additional aside, I just called Josh to talk about some Hoarse & Buggy shit. Part of me actually thinks that I was able to hide my drunkenness, the other part (the realistic part) fully realizes that the reason he rushed me off the phone is because he knew I was fucking useless. I’m gonna go have a cigar. Ashton Magnums, my favorite, in case you wanted to get my ass a Christmas gift. Always keep them in my humidor. Probable throw some Gza in my ears as well. Be right back.

I got Taco Bell for the first time in a long time. Fucking sweet. Chalupas, Baja.

Anyway, now it was time to go home and Jackie, being the only one among us with a car and license, drove me home.

Do you know about New Yorkers, by the way? Some’ll say that New Yorkers never learn to drive because there is no need to in the big city. Well, I’m living proof, having received my license two years ago at the tender age of twenty-five. And when I got it, most people I know in NY that is my age or older asked me, “Why’d you get your license?” Because Robin was sick of driving me to the comic store, that’s why.

So we’re driving down Ocean Parkway when we stop at a red light. I open my door and begin violently vomiting. There’re cars all around us, the light turns green and I’m passed out, hanging out the door, the only thing keeping me up is my seat belt. And the cars are beeping and Jackie’s telling me to get back in but I’m fucking knocked out. Mary finally gets out of the car and pushes me back in.

Jackie gets me home, helps me up and drives off. Before passing up I throw-up a few more times.

Hey, to my future self, I’m sorry for making you edit this shit (if you decide to use it). I had a good fucking time today, so, whatever. You’re a fucking pansy, future self.

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Sundown and Pornographic Baby Steps (UPDATE!)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Update: Oh my. Friend of mine showed me this link, which made me laugh, so I decided to go around and see whatever Liefeld inspired sites existed. Stumbled across his fan site. Ever wonder who reads Liefeld books? Well, this page pretty much sums it up. In case they catch me linking and fix it, the page reads: "Due to space need, this section is closed for instance. I'll try to re-built it soon..." Mystery solved, folks. Mystery solved.

Pimp today goes out to my good friend Jay Busbee who’s first book is soliciting in Previews this month. His new book, Sundown, is being published by Arcana Studios and is “a three-issue crime/horror series set in a land where dying just means you’re switching sides.” It features Ryan Bodenheim’s (geocities site, beware)pencils and Golden Goat Studio’s Ray Dillon’s colors. Order yourself a copy at your local shop, Previews Order #MAY052493.

Jay is a sports writer making his break into comics. He got his start in our book, Western Tales of Terror #1, and has a short in Digital Webbing #23. He’s also helping me out quite a lot with my baseball story, I’ll probably even go so far as to call him "editor" once we get an artist locked-in (sports writer that can tell stories sequentially – too good to be true).

__________________________

Gather ‘round kids, it’s story time…

When I was in Junior High School I entered this thing called “The Shadow Program”. This was a program where you spent a year working a part-time job, before you were legally allowed to work in NYC, and you kept a journal about your experiences. Some people got office jobs, some got jobs in restaurants or coffee shops. Me? I got the best job a 13 year-old-kid could ask for. I was the clerk at a video store.

I really learned nothing of any sort of value doing this, but I had a job for the next five years, until I graduated High School, and the job was glorious.

Video games and movies were free. When the store was slow we watched films and played games and the store was slow quite often. My friends would always come by, sample the newest games, and watch the R-rated films our parents wouldn’t let us watch and open the arcade machines and give out tons of free credits.

It didn’t take long for us to realize the one-true benefit to working at a video store; it actually probably took less than a week. Porno. More porno then any kid my age has ever had access to. With new shipments coming in every Wednesday. All types of porno, the video store never really purged its porno collection. We had movies from every decade and for every fetish. And we watched them all. Midgets, fat-chicks, obscure films like “Edward Penishands” (Contains nudity: recently reviewed on Something Awful, I saw it the week it came out), interracial films, gangbangs…everything you could possibly watch (from a video store) we watched. We found out what a bisexual film was the hard-way, damn-it!

But there was a learning curve. You see, before we discovered that we could actually watch porno while working in the store, I had to sneak it out and bring it to somebody’s house. I’m not sure what the circumstances were around how I got this particular movie but, the first porno I ever watched, the first one that I snuck home and popped in a friend’s VCR while we all sat around salivating for what we were going to see…was Caligula.

Now some of you instantly got the joke and are laughing right now. Some of you don’t see why that’s funny. You see, Caligula isn’t really a porno. It was a bizarre film which was partially financed by Penthouse with lots of big name actors lending their skills to the story of Caligula’s life. And, somewhere in post-production, there were several hardcore sex scenes added to the film, including a two-girl on one dick blowjob complete with cum-rocket.

So here we are, ready to watch Caligula, and instead are treated to some drama with violence and bloody beheadings and the occasional blow-job. Basically, I failed in my task. The blow-job was a good blow-job, but we were too scarred from the excessive blood and gore and Peter O’Toole to really appreciate it.

I wish I remember the circumstances that led up to getting that movie. I’m pretty sure someone recommended it, but I don’t know who, and looking back at it now, it was obviously some asshole playing a prank on us.

Our second attempt was a little better. We tried to go with a movie that showed the most explicit sex on the cover and went with some amateur film called “Hardbodies Part _____”. Whereas there was no plot and nothing but straight sex, the movie was gross. The people were gross, the sex was gross, and there were two scenes. One lasted about ten minutes. The second was one guy having really awkward sex with one girl for about 50 minutes. It actually made sex boring. I remember watching it as a kid and saying, “Sex doesn’t look like a lot of fun.”

But we eventually hit our stride. It’s funny because I watched a lot of porno movies that were produced between 1991 and 1996 and remember most of them, titles and scenes. A couple of times I’ve been at a bar and they’ll put some porno on the TV (some of the swankier, hip bars in DC and NYC I’ve been to do that occasionally), and I’ll look at it and say, “Oh, that’s Takin’ It to the Limit Part Five. There’s this great scene in the beginning where a girl takes it from two guys while be completely blindfolded. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a double penetration in a porno. Good stuff.” And I then turn to my friends and see them giggling at me, the pervert with the stiffy and a catalogue of fond childhood memories involving porno.

make sure you get the unrated version, fanboy: Caligula (Unrated)

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Fuck Supreme, Filler, God's Review, Superman's Pal and Invading the Outdoors

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I decided to stop doing the Supreme thing all together, for now at least. In the first nine pages he basically broke every rule of sequential storytelling and anything I say will just be repeating myself. Plus, we’re moving up production of Elk’s Run 3 by a month and a half so we can have copies of it by San Diego Comic-Con, making me a lot busier. And Western Tales 4 needs to be prepped for the printer by Monday, to boot. Fun times.

I will give a little pimp over towards the fine folks at Ait/Planet-Lar. I read Filler last night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m not going to pretend to be a reviewer by any means, I don’t care to be a reviewer, I read a comic like an editor, but I will say that it’s the kind of book that rewards the reader and that’s really the most important thing, a lot of comic creators feel the need to spoon-feed the reader every tiny bit of information so that they can ensure the reader “gets it”. There’re slight spoilers ahead so if you want to just know my final opinion, buy it. If you want the rest, read the next paragraph.

Rick Spears and Rob G took a chance (as did Larry, since it was his dough that made the book) and produced a book that; honestly, runs the risk of people reading it and finding it to be rushed and pointless, focusing more on the parts they feel to be inconsequential to the story despite the fact that they are the story. John Dough is filler; his whole life is the background – the inconsequential stuff. That’s all he wants, that’s his life, his story. The other stuff, the action parts, that’s just someone else’s story – he just gets sucked in. I have to assume the same people who complain about this book would be the same people who complained about Adaptation’s ending, saying it felt like a different movie. Hard to believe that there are people like that out there. Pick it up, I’m pretty sure the intelligent folks that read this blog would like a nice, intelligent comic book.

Oh, and check out this Elk’s Run review:


And, it's official. I'm a comic-creator alcoholic, at least according to Matt Dembecki's weekly rawboned strip:

______________

So, yesterday’s story sort of branded me a Nancy-boy in the comments section. Fine, whatever, I was a bit emotional when I wrote that. To reclaim a touch of my masculinity, I’ll ask you, what do you get when you put a bunch of poor-ass, third-generation, Red Hook residents in a cabin in the middle of Jersey? You get this, baby, thug-life meets country-life:


Does that not look like a bizzaro rap-album cover? I’m the sexy bitch on the right, probably fifteen years old, and I agree, it does look I’m rocking a hard-on. To the left is RJ, and my pops (pre head-shaved and goat-tee), with my sister, is in the middle.

At some point my father decided to buy into Outdoor World, a series of properties all over America where, for a yearly fee, you can rent cabins, pitch tents or park RVs, whenever you wanted to. For a bunch of city folk, this place was heaven, and we went there quite often the first few years. The one in Jersey wasn’t too far from Wildwood or Atlantic City, so it was choice for both kids and adults.

We had a good time there. Our first time up we went with my cousin Steven (not the one that passed away) and his mother, Monin. Steven wasn’t really my cousin. My mother and his mother were best friends so we simply called ourselves cousins. I have a lot of cousins like that growing up. It drives Robin nuts. She’s freaked out about the fact that I can name fourth and fifth cousins. The fact that I have fake-cousins just confuses the fuck out of her.

But we had a good time and I met Melanie, my first non-neighborhood, summer fling and the second Melanie I hooked up with before I even hit 16. I talked about her briefly, once. A quick recap would be: we made out a few times the first time our vacations overlapped, we made out a few times the second time our vacation overlapped, I carried a condom with me for that entire week, I rubbed her breasts and told her, “I know you’re horny, your nipples are hard,” and she broke up with me the following day for this guy Peter who’s parents were also members of Outdoor World but he lived in Philly, closer to her, and he had a Mustang. That’s really all there is to know.

I think she might have been a bit unattractive, not sure. The second time we went up, when the above picture was taken, was with RJ and Luis where there and they didn’t believe Melanie existed until they saw me lash tongues with her. RJ and Luis tried to get their own action that trip; I think RJ might have gotten it on with some short, ugly black chick in a model unit. Actually, I know he did, and it was fucking funny. She was ghettofied, I think she looked like Lil’ Bow-Wow.

Fuck, I got a great RJ story and I started writing it as an aside but it was too long. Maybe tomorrow. I have so many great RJ stories; I can easily dedicate a month to that kid.

Anyway, city boys in the woods, fishes out of water. I got attacked by a bat. Except, you see, I didn’t actually get attacked by a bat. I was walking back to the cabin after a “hot make-out session” and I saw a bat. It was about a hundred feet away from me, flying “towards” me and sort of dipped and I freaked the fuck out and just booked it, running and screaming. I got back to the cabin and told my cousins I got attacked by a bat. They didn’t make fun of me, though; they decided they weren’t going outside because apparently the bats are attacking. Brooklyn kids in the country.

We also stayed in the tent that first night. It was the cool thing to do. We got a four person sleeper for the three of us but the problem was, I’m six-foot-three, Luis is six-foot-three and weighs twice as much as me, and RJ is almost six-foot and a fucking spaz. Luis was trying to get comfortable when he stood up in an attempt to reposition himself. Somehow, RJ was making him laugh. Luis was having a hard time balancing himself on the air-mattress while bending over because the tent was so small and laughing hysterically and, well, he just fell, to the side, and took the whole tent with him. And now the three of us are tangled up in this tent and we can’t get out. Finally someone finds the zipper and we get out of the thing, vowing to never sleep in it again. Brooklyn kids in the country.

A bunch of stuff like that kept happening. Like, for instance, when we first discovered that white boys from the south can play a mean game of basketball and completely school us. Or when we discovered how ridiculously slow and stupid paddle boats are. Just stuff we weren’t exposed to.

I went out to Outdoor World with my family right after R and I broke up, it was one of the last times we went. I got drunk with my mom and danced to Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It.” I think that was the last time we went, I’m pretty sure they’re not members anymore. I don’t know, when you go to a place to get away from the stupid shit you deal with in New York and they play “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It” at the bar, it’s just not the same anymore.

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My Pops and My Field of Guilt

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No Liefeld today but with good reason. Please read on.

As many of you know, I’m currently working on a baseball comic (and it’s going to be so good - once we settle on an artist). Due to that fact, I’ve basically been watching nothing but baseball, talking about nothing but baseball and thinking about nothing but baseball. It’s not too much of a stretch for me; I love the crap out of baseball. But, last night, my digital cable box went nuts and as a result, I couldn’t watch my premium channels. That includes my MLB Season Pass, making me miss my first Mets game of the season. Instead of watching the Orioles game, I decided to rent Eight Men Out and Field of Dreams. I just finished Field of Dreams.

Now, every time I watch that movie it’s the same thing. I laugh at every ridiculous piece of dialog and throw my hands up in disbelief at the often ridiculous plot. And then, when I get to the end, I got that Kool-Aid smile on my face and I got tears in my eyes and my throat’s all itchy all because (SPOILERS!) Kevin Costner gets to play catch with his dead father.

So, I had my story written for today, I had this whole week planned out, its 12:30AM on a Tuesday (well, technically Wednesday) and I have work tomorrow. I still haven’t done part three of the Supreme edits and I feel the overwhelming urge to change what I had planned for today. So, I’m going to do just that, you get no Liefeld, you get no “down by the Charles River” story and instead, you get my dad’s story, because I’m that much of an emotional sap right now.

____________________

According to my mom, my dad started reading to me the day they found out they were pregnant. He was so jazzed to be a dad, and a good dad, that he couldn’t even wait until I was born. He would read to me every night and it’s a tradition that continued until I was able to read by myself. My relatives would always ask him why he needs to read to me, I don’t even understand what was being said, but that’s just the way he was. My father was a dad 24-7 right from the start.

Money was tight growing up for us. My father was a printer with no college education. He went to a printing trade school for high school, entered the Navy and became a printer on the ships. Once he left the Navy he married my mom. Two years later they had me. A couple of months after that he got laid off for the first time.

My father would work two jobs. He’d print full-time for some company out in Queens, stop off at another print shop on the way home and do the night shift. And the thing is, it wasn’t like we lived lavishly, that extra money we received didn’t benefit him and my mom too much, he really did it for me. I can honestly say I got almost anything I wanted. My father was working two jobs so I can have a Cobra Terrordrome as a kid. One night I said I wanted a M.A.S.K. Boulder Mountain Playset. This guy, after working two jobs, drove me out to the Toys-R-Us in Bay Ridge and got me the Boulder Mountain Playset. That’s the kind of guy he was.

I mean, we had a complete Encyclopedia Britannica set with the matching bookshelf because my dad thought it would help me in school. We must have been the only family in Red Hook with one of those. Every other kid’s parents would say, “The library has all the encyclopedias you need.”

Just thinking about it now, trips to Disney World, Virginia Beach – my parents never even had a honeymoon.

Like I said, money was tight, but growing up I hardly felt it. Most of my clothes were new, the food was always good, and I had everything a kid could want. And my dad never asked for anything in return. That was his style, he was the quite guy. I don’t think I’ve ever known anybody as unselfish as my dad.

And he was always there, too. For everything. Assemblies, graduations, football games, baseball games. He always tried to instill me with the things I needed to know. So, he worked his ass off and he got me all the stuff a kid could want and on top of that he was being the father every kid needs.

I remember going up to the roof with him, on the fourth of July. We’d turn on the radio and an orchestra would play and the fireworks were supposed to be matched to the music but I never saw the correlation. The whole time before the fireworks he’d be barbequing, making up burgers and steaks and sausage links from Esposito’s. The family would be there and everyone will be laughing and having a good time, the Mets’ game on a small TV, hooked up to an extension chord coming down from the second floor window. But when we got to the roof, to watch the fireworks, there was no grilling. No entertaining necessary. And it was always this perfect moment, every year, when I would sit with my dad and just watch the fireworks, separate from the rest of the family. Watch them explode over the Manhattan sky-line and decorate the skyscrapers with ample colors, the Stars and Stripes blaring from the cheap little portable radio from Radio Shack.

I remember my little Fisher Price record player. I was an E.T. nut and I used to play “Turn on your Heartlight” by Neil Diamond. My dad has a great singing voice and he’d lay down with me and sing it. Recently Robin bought me a working Fisher Price record player and the vinyl single for “Turn on your Heartlight”. It wasn’t the same.

I remember this one Christmas, when all I wanted was Star Wars figures. I got a bunch of other cool presents and one Star Wars figure. I was upset, obviously. And my father pointed out a string that was lying on the floor. I followed it to the sofa and pulled on it and from behind the sofa came every single Star Wars’ figure I needed. There were so many. And Santa Claus got credit and my dad was perfectly fine with that, as long as I was happy.

Looking back now, I wish I appreciated it more. Those moments and everything else the man did for me. But it’s all I knew, you know? But I did some stupid shit, sometimes. I got bratty. And not bratty as in begging for more and more and more. I just got stupid teen angsty, we all do at some point, I guess. But looking back at it, I had no right. I really didn’t, the guy was the best dad any kid could have.

We got into a big fight once, I was 16. It was a little while after Steven died; it fucked me up quite a bit. I don’t even know what the fight was over but I know I was threatening to run away and he was so enraged and he was pushing me out the door, telling me to do it. My mother was crying, getting between us.

I took a swing. I missed, thankfully, but I took a swing.

I went to my first therapist about a month later. First of four. I can’t even think about the swing without feeling so fucking bad. This guy, that did everything in his power, that sacrificed so much to get me what I wanted, get me through school, inspire me to get good grades, supported me through college and to this day will still do anything for me without a moments hesitation. And I swung at him. Over something so trivial that I can’t even remember what it was today.

Breaks my fucking heart. It broke his heart, had to of. He had to be thinking, once we calmed down, “What the fuck did I do to deserve that?” Nothing, was the correct answer. But I’m sure he didn’t think that, no-one does. When someone you care for more than anyone else turns on you like that, there’s never an easy answer. Just look at yesterday’s story.

And even now, I want to do so much for him, but I’m just not at that place yet. And even that’s a half-truth; I’m still at that place where, when I have the opportunity to do something, I do it for myself. I have my moments, I know that. I give back what I can when I can and when they need it I don’t even hesitate. I try to help with Elizabeth as much as I can, give her some of the stuff my dad gave me in order to help him out. But no matter what I do, I still don’t feel like it’s enough. People carry around guilt for their entire life. And it’s the most retarded, counterproductive emotion possible and no matter what, it’s impossible to shake.

No matter how hard I try I will never forget that fight. The more I look back on my life and see how good I had it, the more it hurts. I know he’s probably gotten over it. I know that right now the two of us are probably closer than we’ve ever been. And despite all of that, if I so much as think about that fight, I go to pieces.

Nothing will ever take that away. But I’m going to keep trying.

And that’s my guilt, that’s one of the things I carry around. There’s more. Some of them I can talk about, some of them I’ll never share with anyone. This was one I thought I could never share. But fucking Kevin Costner had to go and play catch with his dead father. I don’t even like Kevin Costner.

And you think this is weighted down and not the usual light snack you like from my site to start your day, wait until I write about my mom. 1:30 AM. I could go on, but it’s time for bed. As far as I know, what I just wrote is probably an incoherent mess.

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Editing Supreme Part 2 and The Tipping Point

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Before getting into Supreme pages 6-9, I wanted to thank Sean Fahey and the rest of the guys over at Chud.com for giving Elk’s Run five out five Vikings in this review. Much obliged. Also, we put up pictures from our last DCC event. Since I was the guy with the camera, I’m in none of them, so if you want to look at my sexy-ass you’re out of luck. But there are plenty of pictures on this site, so don’t despair. This Sunday we’re having an honest to God jam session. Everyone’s bringing their pencils, pens and ideas and we’re going to create some good shit.

Ok...Yesterdays notes on 1-5.



Page 6 and 7
I don’t know where to begin. This is where we should be getting to the meat of the story following a 5 page set-up. Ok. So. We already had two one-page splashes; we’re now treated to a two page splash. That’s 4 pages of splash out of 7 total pages. That’s lazy, I’m sorry. But that’s not the only thing wrong with this. Where to begin?

Let’s start with logistics, how did Youngblood get up in space so damn fast? Supreme was descending at mach 4, the government guy puts his hand on a button and ta-da, Youngblood is suited up for space-duty and in the earth’s atmosphere. But, space fights are cool.

Secondly, it’s nice that the characters are trying to talk in space, but Supreme can’t hear you. Not even with his super-hearing. Maybe he can read lips, maybe not. I know some people get on the whole, “You need to suspend disbelief when you’re reading comics.” True. Men can’t fly, women can’t control the weather, etc. But the suspension of disbelief clause is really only in there for the sake of defining and developing the character, not because you want to have a cool thing happen in a cool place. That’s just laziness.

Badrock can’t fly on earth, he can’t fly in space.

Dialog is stiff and ripped right of a bad action movie. I’m not going to make that note anymore.

Artwise, Supreme has sprouted spikes on his wrist. The Photon guy is apparently a midget or Badrock’s fist is 6-feet tall. Despite the fact that Combat’s right leg appears to be dropped back, it’s in the same plane as his left one. I could honestly go on but I won’t because, at this point, I call Josh and tell him we’re dropping this “Supreme” book and we need to face up to the fact that we really misjudged the talent.

Page 8
Waste. Of. Space. Sentinel got it right when he said “So?” (which should have a question mark. Without the question mark it’s “So…you come around here often?”) But when I read the “I am Supreme” and saw this ¾ page panel of some old guy holding his hand out, after being treated to 4 out of 7 pages of splashes, I said “So?” At this point, you have to give your audience something more.

In the second panel. Let’s go through each piece of dialog. Sentinal says “So” with no question mark, makes no sense really. Badrock says “what” which makes me think he simply didn’t hear Supreme; it’s not a typical response. Photon says “who”. That’s ok. Combat, who’s on a different hover-board, mind you, is apparently the only one who knows Supreme. And Die Hard says “bah” which is just a bad word, it doesn’t convey what the character is feeling or what, exactly, he’s bahing over. So, they all sound like monosyllabic chimps and none of them really respond to the situation that well. If I could offer a suggestion, how about having someone reiterate the original request, mainly, “state the nature of your presence”, since Supreme ignored it and it’s kind of important. Nice delegation.

Also, Diehard completely changed position, Badrock apparently doesn’t move at all and the Photon guy just came from beneath all of the characters when a panel earlier he was higher than them all. Reference, you gotta keep your reader oriented.

Now, a plot point. The story here is Supreme is returning to Earth after 50 years, a bunch of people remember him. I’m sorry, but Youngblood being a super-secret government agency – they should all know this guy. Everyone on earth should know this guy. When the guy pressed the button for Youngblood, he should have said, “Yo, Supreme’s back. Send up Youngblood, bring him a fruit-basket.” Two thousand years after Jesus’s death and everyone on the planet knows who he is - a guy that performed a couple of miracles but mainly lived a pretty short life before getting crucified. And he’s remembered after two-thousand years. You’re telling me that fifty years after Supreme leaves earth, the most powerful super-hero to ever exist, no-one remembers him or knows exactly what he looks like? Not even other fucking super-heroes? They don’t sit around and say, “Hey, you know who was awesome? Supreme was awesome.” The only guy that remembers him, Combat, knows him from another planet, not even Earth. As Die Hard would say, “Bah!”

Page 9
Panel one lettering doesn’t flow right. It leads the eye across the top and then back down to Diehard’s second piece of dialog. As I’ve said yesterday, letterer should be fired. Also, while we’re firing people, “we represent the law on this rock” – whoever came up with that line should be fired as well. But, I’m done noting stiff dialog. Good to see all of the characters are back to the positions they were in on page 7, however. Quasi-consistency.

In panel two I love how Sentinel is apparently mixing it up on the space-turntables, complete with an “Ah, shit son!” look on his face.

In panel 3 Combat’s hoverboard is round again. “You dare insult his honor?” is a question, regardless of how loud it’s yelled. Badrock is just kind of floating around in a position that makes no sense. Also, I’ll say it again, worst delegation ever. But, at least we’re getting to some action, right? Um, well, about that action…

Panel 4. You had a really good chance at a cool shot. Assuming we will once again defy the laws of physics and allow for fire in space (or, assuming Combat’s staff emits oxygen and that oxygen gather’s around Supreme’s chest) - you pull out a bit, or down a bit, and you can really show the chest burning up (or, I assume his clothes, since I have a hard time imagining Supreme’s flesh catching fire) and still show his smile as if it’s not affecting him. But instead we get a really awkward shot. I don’t know why, I just kid of feel dirty looking at it, I feel like Supreme is giving me bedroom eyes and his plans for me are making him “sizzle” which, by the way, is a really bad sound effect.

Ok, so after the awkward fourth panel we finally get some action, right? No, we skip it again, for a picture of something happening that I have to a) assume was someone getting rocked and b) assume it was Combat. Show it. Show it, show it, show it. (And, while you’re at it, the distance this guy is apparently traveling is comical, especially when you consider he probably lost his hoverboard and has no-way of getting back…but he does, mind you). We made it through 9 pages of sloppy art and bad dialog, give us something. And I think that’s my final note for these 4 pages. They expand the nonsense we saw in the first 5 but now with Youngblood. I left off my notes on pages 1-5 saying that the big action pay-off is coming up. Well, maybe tomorrow. Pages 10-14

____________________

As I said, trying to skew the Orgo test didn’t work. Only D I’ve ever gotten in college.

The semester just sucked, between alien invasions, no motivation, shitty grades, trouble with R and a girl from my dream visiting me, I think one can say I was in a bit of a fragile state. Combined with the lack of sleep I was pretty much dangerous.

I was in R’s room with a couple of other people when we phone in to get our organic chemistry grades. None of us got above a C. Everyone started bitching about the class and the teacher and how unfair it all was to which I interjected and let them know, admittedly unwisely, that our grades where our own fault and we never went to class, never studied and just didn’t do anything for the class.

R got pretty quite. And she remained quite as we walked back to my place where we meeting with our study group for our next final we were going to fail. Being the kind of guy that really needs to know what’s going in people’s heads, even when I know it’s not good, I keep pressing R to tell me what’s wrong. She won’t answer.

Finally she turns around and tells me, “You don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

Now. A lot of people would leave it at that because they really don’t want to hear what the other person has to say. But not me. I’m masochistic and mildly retarded. R’s response was a fucking challenge. I kept going.

And going.

And going.

Until she turns to me, in the middle of a crowded street, and screams, “You’re right, I should have went to class instead of staying home and fucking you all day.”

Do you know how a person snaps sometimes? I’ve snapped three times in my life, I mean snapped – really lost control. The first time was at Steven’s funeral. The second time was when I got into a fight with my dad and took a swing at him. The third time was at this exact moment.

I stared at her for about five seconds before she started walking away. Luckily I was in shock or else, and I hate to say this, I really think I would of hit her. I let her walk away before going on my rampage. I know this is kind of fucked up and it was only one little sentence she said which, if you look at it positively, I could use to brag about how much ass I got in college, but you have to look at the circumstances – I wasn’t all there in the head at this point.

But, I also didn’t know how to release my anger. So I started running.

Really, really, fucking fast. While pushing people out of the way and stopping to kick shit.

I was like the fucking Hulk. I compared myself to the Hulk before, humorously, this time it was for real. I was rampaging through the streets and people were running away from me. And then I got to my room.

And I tore it apart. Like a fucking rock star except I wasn’t having fun. It was a certifiable testosterone amplified hissy fit. People started gathering outside my door, I was the fucking RA at this point and the RA was obviously breaking shit in his room. Finally R came to the door, asked to come in. To which I politely responded, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.”

She eventually came in and calmed me down. I was a mess; I was shaking, crying…I mean, life just caught up with me. And it’s not even like all of the shit was absolutely horrible but at the same time it just looked like everything was sort of coming apart, you can see it happening.

It’s funny, I talk about the 423 thing, about what actually happened on April 23rd and what I thought was going to happen. I got this thing, you know, where I kind of feel like the magical shit’s going to happen to me. My whole life I always sort of felt like there was somebody or something looking out for me, whether you call it God or an angel or just luck. But shit just always worked out, you know? I never had to try hard and if I usually went for something I found a way to get it. It made me lazy.

It wasn’t happening like that at this point. I was really being challenged, and the shit just wasn’t falling in my favor. But I kept waiting for it to get better, just thinking that’s the way shit goes with me. Everything works out. And then I had the dream. And as scared as I was and as out of my mind I was going I kept telling myself, “This is it. Something amazing is going to happen to me now.” As if all of the bad luck up until this point, the grades, the friends, the girlfriend, the stress, the drugs, the family…everything was all just sort of moot because on April 23rd, something was going to fucking happen.

And nothing happened, after spending a month getting myself prepared. After a month of going out my head thinking that God was about to hit a big fucking reset button. Nothing happened.

And it fucked me up. And I cracked.

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Editing Liefeld Part 1 and the Chinskimo

Monday, May 02, 2005

Holy Jesus I got so fucked up last night. DCC throwdown, I drank a lot. I’ll put pictures up tonight on the DCC blog. Seriously, though, so fucked up. I think I spread ever comic rumor I heard in the past year.

I’m going to do something a little different this week, in addition to my usual daily story. I get a bunch of people asking me what an editor does, exactly. The answer to that depends on what the publisher and creators need combined with what the editor in question is capable of.

At Hoarse & Buggy I do a lot of the coordination on the books we put out, make sure things get in on time, assist in promotion, write press-releases and make sure everything we put out looks as good, if not better, than every other book on the stands. Josh and Chris help with a lot of these chores, though, so they’re not really my bread and butter, per se.

I’m sort of the story guy. This may not be a big shock, for the past three months I’ve put up a 1-3 page story every Monday through Friday. I’m hands on with my editing, I like getting in on a project from the ground floor. I give notes on the pitch, give notes on the story, and I like to look at the script as it comes along, in ten page increments, to make sure we’re accomplishing what we need to accomplish for a given issue. I give notes on the final script, offer dialog suggestions and art suggestions before going to the artist. I make comments on the layouts, the final art and the letters. I like to work on the phone as much as I can, talk over the project with the writer, make sure we’re both seeing eye to eye and the vision for the story and individual issues is clear and easily expressed. That’s the stuff I really like to do and that’s where I’m used the most.

So, timed with all of the hoopla over the Liefeld/Simone Teen Titans announcement I decided to do something constructive – I decided to edit Supreme #1. Now, I’m in no way going to catch every little thing nor do I care too. I’m also not going to point out every little art problem. But I will be pointing out some of the things I would have suggested changing have I been editing this story myself. Some of the stuff I would have caught in the story, some in the script, some in the layout and some in the proof but these are all things I would have seen and, taking the story for what it is, suggested they be reconsidered or looked at. Maybe you’ll get something out of this, maybe you won’t. I just thought it’d be fun to do.

Pages 1-5 today:


The Cover: It’s a nice cover; it’s what a Liefeld fan would expect from a cover. The silver foil is nice and not in excess. The font is strong, it’s in demand. On the whole, it pops – it’s functional for what it is.

Page 1
This page is pretty disorienting. You have to take your reader through the world you’re creating, give them a sense of orientation. We’re zooming into a solar system, presumably ours, and we only see the sun and a red planet which I originally assumed to be Mercury do to it’s proximity to the sun but then realized it’s likely Mars. No sign of Earth. Then, out of nowhere, we see a huge earth and in the bottom right is what I assume to be the corner of the red planet we saw earlier, still guessing it’s Mars. Supreme’s dialog here kind of lets the reader know that we are seeing this from Supreme’s point of view. Then we pull in even more and see a couple of satellites that establish the fact that the dialog we see is coming from the people that are using the satellites to watch the skies. On the whole, not bad. But then we all of a sudden go back to the Mars planet, which is unimportant to the scheme of things and out of place. It leaves the reader disoriented, especially when the reader thinks we’re seeing things through Supreme’s eyes.

Supreme’s dialog is a bit stiff and clichéd. That’s sort of a recurring note for all of the characters so I don’t want to call it out over and over again. Read it out loud and you sound like William Shatner. The cut off sentence is a bit awkward as well.

Page 2
Panel 1: Now, I’m not going to make too many comments on the art but blatant things I’m going to call. The headsets that match the hair colors are passable but the lazy psychedelic colored-in headset on the guy in the middle is not. First guys dialog, I’d hyphenate “red-hot” and change “zero” to “oh” since that’s what he said on page one. You need to create a sense of continuity in your character; the speech pattern can’t change too drastically. As far as everyone wearing the same white shirt with red tie and perfectly sculpted hair – I want to remind you this is his style and his vision, that’s not the point of what I’m doing.

Panel 2: The guy’s talking gibberish but it’s gibberish that speaks to the intended audience so it’s not that bad. The red flash, however, makes me think that we’re in a separate room and this guy came out of left-field. I’d probably add a siren to let the reader now that this is the same room, in a state of emergency. Plus the siren will put you in it more; the dialog on its own is kind of bland. I’ll get this out of the way now, way too many exclamation points. Throughout the entire book. Everyone has their thing. When I get a script from Josh it says “fuck” almost every sentence (something I now realize I do as well, times ten). A good editor will whittle it down. No-one ever whittled down Liefeld’s exclamation points. Sometimes you just don’t need them, other times you put in dialog with a little more meat. But they can be whittled.

Page 3
I like this page, it’s a nice shot. Breaking the atmosphere is always cool. I’d suggest engulfing him in more flame, all of the flame is behind him. The random, floating thumb on his right hand that is in no-way attached to his body would pass but the left hand is just laziness. That wouldn’t make it as is.

Page 4
Again, style. I wouldn’t reestablish the descent. The angle change, arm position change and color change is again a bit disorienting. It looks like he’s belly-flopping into orbit. If I were really being a stickler, I would point out that the flow of his cape is sort of hinting that there is wind in space and, plus, if he’s going mach 4 it would be straight over his head but, style. This is what Liefeld’s audience wants - poses. So, I would call it a waste of a page but it works for this book. However, I probably would have asked Rob to put Supreme's arm brace thing back on.

Page 5
Panel 1 – That “beep” is horrid. Letterer should be fired. The only thing worse than that is the talking button. Again, letterer should be fired. Combined, it looks like the “beep” is coming from somewhere else, not the talking button. I understand this is the art you got but you need to work with it more. A better “beep” should be laid closer to the button; the voice should come from the ether, not the other way around.

Panel 2 – I’m really digging the reflection thing, it looks cool. The angles and perspectives make no sense but it still looks cool. I would probably suggest some redecoration, the striped wall and the cactus are kind of, I don’t know, not indicative of a super-government spook that has his finger on the “Youngblood button.” Also, this is a great example of unnecessary exclamation points. Look at this guy; he’s calm, collective, mysterious. 100% certifiable bad-ass. Bad-asses don’t scream - they calmly give orders with enough substance in their voice to let the people on the other end know that this is some serious shit. You have to write dialog for your character, don’t make everyone sound exactly the same.

On the whole – These five pages established the premise - somewhat. We know this big ole guy is coming to earth, we don’t know why or where he’s coming from but we do get the feeling that he’s been here before. However, we also get the feeling that no-one knows who he is or remembers him which is kind of a spotty dynamic throughout the first issue and will be addressed later. Towards the end of the five pages, a conflict is introduced and we get the sense that some major ass-kicking is about to take place. Looking at the first five pages of the first issue for what they are, the preview pages we’ll be putting up on Newsarama, CBR, etc, they serve the purpose of exciting Liefeld fans with glorious poses and the promise of big, mindless action but they do little-to-nothing to get a new reader jazzed. There’s no hook, just a promise of an upcoming hook. And with sloppy art, dialog and situations, a promise that there will eventually be a hook isn’t enough to get me to buy the book.

Tomorrow, I’ll tackle pages 6-9. For now - it’s story time. Short one today.

____________________________

The Chinskimo was the name we came up with for this kid Neil that lived on our floor freshman and sophomore year in college. He was this freakishly tall Asian kid that had this puffy, fur line jacket that he would wear the second it got cold and it made him look like an Eskimo – hence, Chinskimo.

The Chinskimo wasn’t a bad guy at all, but he had his quirks that made him quite annoying. The one thing he did that drove people nuts was this excited, high pitch “hoot” he let out, not only when he was laughing, but pretty much randomly throughout the day. It sounded almost exactly like the sound a kid makes when he’s imitating a choo-choo train but couldn’t make the “ch” sound.

He had other quirks, enough to make him 51% intolerable. But he had his uses, so we kept him around.

One such use was this genius plan devised by Nico from Rico that was supposed to skew the curve of our Organic Chemistry final (pre-med, now that was a waste), a test we needed to do good on because we were all failing the class, in our favor. Beyond that, and probably the real reason for the plan, was because it was really, really funny.

The plan was to have the Chinskimo take the test despite not being in the class. But, there were rules. He had to write gibberish on every page of the exam, stuff that made no sense. Twenty minutes into this three hour final, he had to stand up, scream out “YES!”, make his way up to the front of the class, slam the exam on the professor’s desk, thank him for such an easy test and then run out of the room doing the Chinskimo hoot.

The theory behind it was, everyone would get freaked out and think the test was really easy and that they’re fucked for having a hard time with it. It would cause panic and cause people to throw the test.

In reality, it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life but the average for the final was still in the seventies and I still go a grade in the forties.

Speaking of finals, I have my final today which is, hopefully, the last exam I’ll ever take. Sorry for the rushed, probably crappy story. I’m hung-over and stressed and didn’t study enough and don’t have access to a Chinskimo to skew the curve for me.

knock out that hangover, fanboy: Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief

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