I got distracted halfway through posting last weeks Fights comic, so here’s two. Blathering after.
Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck
I had a weird week. Hard, let’s say, rather than bad, because I feel alright at the end of it. I have been sending out JepComix 8 to reviewers, and encouraging stores to carry it. You can find a copy, more than likely, at The Beguiling or Page and Panel, both in Toronto. Out of towns get mailed tomorrow. I also tried to place it in the East End’s best little comic shop, The Sidekick Cafe, and just … ruined it.
I was a little anxious heading there, because I had written them and gotten no response. But I went in, trying to feel positive, and everyone was dressed in Halloween costumes. Immediately I was thrown off (we’re all on the spectrum somewhere, right? I hate costumes.). I went to the cash, where a Human inside a Panda Bear said Hi, and I said, “Hi! Do you take comics on consignment?”
What I MEANT to say was “Hi, I’m a local cartoonist.” and hold up the book, and ask if they ever stocked stuff by local artists. Perhaps even compliment their shop - it’s really well curated. But no. I just asked a yes or no question - and when she replied “No, we only buy them outright.” I said “Okay,” and walked away.
I was ten feet away before I realized that wasn’t even a soft No. It could have meant “Show me your shit”, but I was too high strung to even hear her. And when I clued in, I felt so stupid, I couldn’t bring myself to turn around.
I yelled angrily in the car on the way home, just noises, no words. AHHHH! I drive myself crazy. I know how to do these things: rehearse a bit, visualize it going well, consider possible responses. But I get nervous and I forget all helpful tips, and just barrel and bash my way through shit, and WRECK it.
I’ll go back when the next comic comes out (later this year), or if I get accepted to TCAF. I can’t go now. And here I am again at this theme that’s all over the place: I gotta make more lists. The one I should have consulted before going in will be called “How to Ask for Things of Strangers”. Smile. Go in calm. Have a plan. Get Better at things. Etc.
Toronto’s The Beguiling is now stocking the new JepComix book! Head there and buy yourself The True Adventures of JepComix #8 for a smooth six dollars. They’ve got four copies, and a refreshed, generous consignment policy that lets me keep the comics there there for 3 months, and it would be really really nice if I had to replenish them. If you do go, THANK YOU. If you can’t find it, show them this pic.
JepComix8 has landed - I went and picked them up yesterday and am pretty happy with them.
This is the first issue that I’ve had professionally printed, and the first one with a colour cover, and the first one that contains a single complete story (the one about the landlord Elizabeth, originally published here and on facebook). It’s also the first one I took very seriously as a production; with Marjan’s keen editor-eye and a higher standard for what I considered passable, I did a lot of edits on #8. That’s a dreadful process but a good one.
It’s also a half-inch bigger than the others, which are all just folded regular sheets. This one is 6x9 - basically the same size, but not so easily lost on a shelf. I feel good about where I’m at with this comics-writing thing, after 15 years of giving it a real effort, and hope to be a little more confident in my suggesting someone might read it. I loathe self-promotion - but what are you gonna do? I’ve applied to TCAF, and will hopefully hear good news in December. I hope also to perhaps attend other conferences, which seem to be the best way to meet other artists and comics people (despite being overfull with humans). I’ll send it to the usual shops (Chicago’s Quimby’s, The Beguiling, Atomic Comics in Baltimore).
Oddly, right at this moment I am listening to On Being, Krista Tippett’s podcast, and she’s talking to Seth Godin about marketing. He’s saying marketing doesn’t have to be gross. I guess I can sort of believe that - but I still think it’s excruciating. A part of the convo that stuck for me was his saying that when a person says ‘I made this’, they'’re vulnerable to someone responding ‘I don’t like it, and I don’t like you.’ I feel that in a hyper loud way. But. What are you going to dooooo?
All this to say: I’ll be trying to say “I made this” more this year, and if you wish to, you can help by going to a shop and buying a comic. Or you can just watch and see how it goes. I’m curious myself. I’ll share where they are stocked when I know.
My first concert, and my first concert shirt. Kim Mitchell was super-important to me. He was a Rock Star from Sarnia - a mind blowing concept to me, at 12, as I was discovering the power of rock music. And he was the first person I ever heard of who who had LEFT Sarnia. Kim Mitchell accidentally taught me that I did not have to stay.
The first time I heard him was on Max Webster’s late-era record Universal Juveniles, which my brother had. I still love this record. Check out the cover:
On it, Max did a duet with RUSH called Battlescar - a full-bands duet - two kits, two basses, etc. It’s pretty crazy. If you haven’t heard it, go listen to it here. Max Webster’s closeness with Rush (they were always named in Rush liner notes, too) was important social currency… a kid I knew had an older brother who had hosted an early Max Webster rehearsal in his basement: instantly, a Cool Guy, to me.
Shortly afterwards, (1984) Mitchell released his first full-length solo album, and started wearing that hat. It was called akimbo alogo, and had a fantastic blue cover (for its original release), and the sounds on it still kill me, if not the songs.
When he came to town - what seemed to me a glorious homecoming - I went to the Record Store to line up and get his autograph. As he signed my records, we made him laugh, which made me very happy. Years later I made Mary Margaret O’Hara laugh. That was even better.
The Sarnia Arena was acoustically perfect for Hockey, I guess. I can still picture the whole experience, somehow, but not the actual show. The weirdness of finally being at A Holy Place - a rock show! - and noticing the empty back half, seeing people leaving during the encores (to avoid the heavy Sarnia traffic) and the ebb and flow around the merch table. That special post-show feeling afterwards in the parking lot.
I bought this shirt there. It made my little muscles look great. On the back, see the tour dates. I wore it proudly.
*Ezra Klein Show, Sept 4th, with Chris Bailey. www.vox.com/ezra-klein-show-podcast
The Project to Document Every Damn Thing: T-Shirts of My Life brings you a shirt from grade two.
I signed up to play softball because my little friends had. They knew how to play. I had absolutely no idea. My family didn’t watch sports. The coach - an old school bully - sussed out my inabilities fast, and gave me a token position - substitute right field. Mostly I sat on the bench.
I played one game. I still understood nothing about how the game was played. I sat and watched from the bench the whole ga - nope! At some sudden moment, the coach, angry at the seven year old third baseman for something, cursed and yelled at me to take his place! I did! A kid got a hit, and the ball was thrown to me! I caught it! I touched the base with my foot like a pro! - and watched, uncomprehending, as he ran by me and towards home plate. The whole team screamed at me: Throw the ball! Throw the fucking ball! And I did, but not successfully.
On the bench Bryan yelled at me to explain that you had to tag the guy AND touch the base.
Because I had been put on base, I learned, I had to be put up to bat. Nervous as heck, I took my place at bat. I swung at the first pitch, and CRACK! hit it hard. I dropped my bat and started running, but learned I had hit it directly to the first base person’s glove. I was out.
I was sad after. Naturally. My Dad, who had been there and had watched, didn’t say anything - not unusual. Partway home, he pulled into the parking lot of JC Penney's, and said “Wait here.” He returned, and handed me a brand new baseball. It’s a weird moment to retell, but I remember it fondly. I never played another organized sport. But I kept the shirt for 40 years.