Sunday, June 28, 2009

Crazy for Comic Books

Time: 2005
Place: Atlanta, GA

I was at a small comic book shop. At the time, there were only two people in the store: the guy behind the counter and me. The guy behind the counter needs a name, so I’ll call him Greg. As I was checking out the new titles on the stands, Greg got a phone call. The call went on forever and I found myself half listening to Greg’s side of the conversation.

“Yeah, I think that’s when the Atom Smasher came back,” Greg said. “They can’t bring back Kobra because Black Adam ripped his heart out. They said it was a character Stan Lee never used, but it was a hoax. They were lying. Yes, lying. Yes, Stan Lee knew. He was in on it.”

Eventually, I found some comic books I wanted to buy and brought them to the register.

“I gotta go,” Greg said. “I have a customer.”

Greg hung up and started ringing up my books.

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” I said, “but that was some heavy conversation you were having.”

“Yeah, that guy calls all the time, usually when there’s about eight people lined up at the register,” Greg said. “The guy is crazy.”

“Well, he certainly seems to know his comic book history,” I said. “I didn’t know half the stuff you were telling him.”

“Oh yeah, he’s very well versed in arcane comic book history,” Greg said, “But when I said he was crazy, I meant that literally. He really is insane. He’s in an asylum and his keepers let him read comic books. He likes to call the shop and discuss characters who were killed off thirty years ago.”

I couldn’t think of a response to that tidbit of information, so I just mumbled wow whaddaya know about that, paid for my comics, and left the shop.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

More June 2009 sketches

More sketches from June travels. There is one in the middle that comes with a story, the one of the man sleeping at LGA. I was at the airport waiting for my flight and sketching the other waiting passengers when I realized that the man sitting next to me was looking over my shoulder. Now one big rule for me when I do sketches and is to try and make sure that no one else notices. But this guy caught me. He asked to see the sketch I was working on and I let him see it. We discussed sketching versus taking photos (his preferred method) and I said that the sketches were only impressions and were not meant to be accurate. Then the guy said to me, "Hey, you missed his lapel pin." I thought about repeating that the sketches aren't photos and accuracy is not important, but instead, I drew in a small square on the sleeping man's lapel just to make the guy go away.

June 2009 Sketches

Some sketches done while traveling in June. The last sketch, the one of Robert Redford, has a story that goes with it. I went to New York for Promax, which is a convention for people in broadcast media who do promotions and marketing. Every year, Promax gets one big name person to come speak. This year it was Robert Redford. Instead of giving a speech, Redford was on stage with an interviewer and they had a "conversation." During the conversation, Redford mentioned that he had been an artist before he became an actor. I didn't know this. When it came time for questions from the audience, a woman asked Redford if he still did artwork. He said that did some but his main artistic expression was sketching people when he traveled. He said this minutes after I did the sketch of him. Did I feel a special bond with Mr. Redford? Not really, but it's nice to know that he and I share a creative outlet.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Never leave home without one

I'm leaving for New York City tomorrow. I will be gone for most of the week. I made sure this time to remember to pack a cat.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

So's Your Mother

Time: 1969
Place: Chattanooga, TN

He came from New York City. He was our neighbors’ cousin and he stayed with them for two weeks. I will call him Phil in honor of Phillip Roth.

Phil was 16. He had an overbearing personality and a thick New York accent. Under most circumstances, he would have been annoying, but we neighborhood kids had never met anyone like him before. He fascinated us. It was like having a platypus show up and do tricks.

One day Phil went on a tear about how he’d had sex with all the Jewish mothers in our neighborhood. His description of how he came to know each of our mothers in a biblical way followed the same basic pattern. He’d stopped by one of our houses and found only the mother home alone. The mother forced him to come inside and soon she was naked and demanding sex. Or she was already naked. He would describe our mothers’ bodies in the grossest terms possible. He gave each mother a particular defect. Mrs. Blumberg was fat with lots of loose flesh. Mrs. Greenberg had foul body odor. My mother’s breath was so bad, Phil almost passed out. In every story, he would start screwing the mother, but then something would happen that forced him to leave in a hurry. Our favorite was when a mother would fart so loud and smell so awful, Phil gagged and ran for his live.

I was 12 at the time and had never heard anything so dirty. We didn’t for a moment believe his stories were true nor do I think Phil expected us to believe him. After a few stories, we realized that he only had three basic plots that he used for all the mothers. The stories were entertainment. Instead of being offended, we started to demand that he repeat stories or include a mother he missed.

“What about Mrs. Alpert? Did you visit her?”

“Oh right, Mrs. Alpert,” Phil replied. “Yes, I was walking by her house when she flung open the door and there she was, stark naked, her tits hanging down pass her bellybutton, and her vagina covered with so much hair I thought she was had a raccoon in her crotch. ‘Phil,’ she called, ‘Could you please come here.’”

Everybody laughed and rolled their eyes. I didn’t laugh. When someone tells me a story or a joke of any kind, I try to visualize it. I didn’t want to visualize Phil’s stories, but I couldn’t help myself. I kept seeing our Jewish mothers prancing around naked and farting. It was the first time I thought of female naked flesh and was not excited in any way. It was just odd and wrong.

Phil’s two week visit ended and I never saw him again, but from time to time, I still see the naked mothers and they’re still dancing and they’re still farting.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Today is my birthday and I’d like to share two short birthday stories.

The first story is a conversation I had with a boy about seven. Let’s call him Sean. He was telling me how he excited he was about his upcoming birthday party.

Sean: “I’m going to have the best birthday party ever.”

Me: “Sounds like a lot of fun, Sean.”

Sean: “You know I celebrated my birthday about this time last year.”

Me: “About this time last year you say?”

Sean: “Yeah. And now that I think about it, my birthday comes about the same time ever year.”

I thought about explaining why birthdays come on the same day every year, but decided Sean should figure it out on his own.

The second story is a conversation I had this past Saturday. A woman, let’s call her Beth, was telling me how much trouble her teenage son was causing her.

Me: “I suppose its part of the joy of raising children.”

Beth: “Just wait until you’re 52, then you’ll understand.”

Me: “So this Monday, I’ll understand?”

Beth gave me the stink eye.

Beth: “Well, you look younger than me.”