Saturday, June 04, 2005

New Kochalka Interview, Non-Galaxy Division -- James the Superstar discusses Super-F*ckers in this interview at Comic Foundry.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dear Steve -- It was twenty years ago this September
that we first met, when you were the music director of our college radio
station. I remember you got sick not long after we met, and there was that
one day that, I think, Jake, Kelly, Craig and I came to visit you. You had
a huge tube in your chest and looked pretty damned uncomfortable. If I recall
correctly, though, you did tell Kelly that now that she had seen your
nipples, fair was fair, and she should reciprocate. A comment made
even funnier for the fact that, at the time, we all hardly knew each

We were all students in the broadcasting class at Adirondack Community
College. From that hospital room to the college's classrooms to your
living room and many of the bars and restaurants in the area over the
next few years, we were good friends. Craig, and very shortly
thereafter Jay, and a few other people were all part of a circle of
friends united in an interest in all of our hoped-for radio careers,
although only a handful including you and I, ever actually got jobs
in radio. So far as I know, only Jake and I still have them, and I
haven't seen him in many years.

How do we all scatter to the wind? And how is it that we ask ourselves
that so rarely, and only at a time like this?

It was just last night, Steve, that I found out you had died. I had
e-mailed Jay about something I thought he'd be interested in, and he
mentioned in his reply how hard your passing had hit him. I was so
shocked by this casual mention of your death, that I was not even
certain he was talking about you, although, of course he was. We
always knew you, me, your mom, all of us that you were living on
borrowed time. Hell, in college I looked up information about your
illness and discovered the life expectancy was in the early 20s. That
you made it to nearly 40 is a genuine triumph. That you died last
December is, frankly, a kick in the head that I am having a hard time
getting past.

There's no one to blame but me for my not knowing. I allowed us to
fall out of contact with each other years ago, and at the time you
died my personal circumstances took me even further away from any kind
of communication with the person most likely to let me know what was
happening, our good and mutual friend Joe. So much has happened
between Joe and I over the past year, none of it really the fault of
either of us, but it's been hard, at times, to talk to him. Hard not
to hate him, despite the fact that ultimately all that's happened is
not his fault.

Shit, Steve, this is about you and me. And the fact is, I'm the only
one to blame for the way our lives split off from each other. For
years I loved you like a brother, and respected you mightily for being
the only person I knew who so very clearly was both smarter and
funnier than me. I often say my friend and creative partner Chris
Allen is who I want to be when I grow up, but Steve, before I met him,
that person was you. I wanted to be as funny as you, I wanted to be as
smart as you, and most importantly, I wanted to be as decent as you.

You were the best kind of friend someone like me could have you
never pulled your punches, and you always called bullshit on me. I
never could get away with anything with you. And best of all, you
stayed loyal no matter what. I'm sure every friend you ever had knew
what I knew then and know now there could be no better or more loyal
friend than Steve Cole.

I'm sorry for the way things turned out between us, and I take full,
100% responsibility. I always thought that, since both of us were
still friends with Jay, and friends with Joe, that somehow when enough
time had passed we'd find ourselves in a conversation together, and
the years would fall away. I thought you had found a strength and
power to defeat your illness, and I thought there'd be all the time in
the world.

Funnily enough, I have an incurable illness, now, too, although it's
nowhere as devastating yet as yours was to you. I know now, having
lived with diabetes for seven years, how you came to live with your
own illness as just a part of your life. You were sick to one degree
or another for the entirety of the time I knew you, but you never let
the sickness blot out your passion, your humour, or your life. Hell,
looking back, as confused as we were in our early 20s, you still
managed to be one of the most alive and vital people I knew. I know
you had your doubts and fears, but please know that I always looked to
you as someone who seemed to have it together in ways that I could
never hope to figure out.

I don't know what else to say, my friend. Too many years got between
us, and I lost one of the very best friends I ever had. I'm sorry I
let our friendship fall away. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, but
I'm glad to know that Jay was. My only excuse for all this is that I
really, truly thought there'd be more time, and now there's none. But
I remember the years we were friends, and all the funny and tragic
crap that only young men in their 20s can believe is the most
important thing in the world. Approaching 40, I know that friendship
and shared experience is one of the most important things that anyone
can ever have, and I'm profoundly grateful for the time that we had,
as friends, as colleagues at the college radio station, as two
young men, one of whom always thought there'd be more time, and the
other who probably knew there would never be enough. I'm glad you got
as many years as you did, Steve, but I wish you'd gotten a little
more. Selfishly, I wish you'd gotten enough time for me to call you
up, one more time, and say hello. And to say I'm sorry. And to say
that I've missed your friendship, and I now, I always will.



Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Wednesday Morning in the Red Room -- It's just minutes before 6 AM, and my wife and kids are all sound asleep in their beds. The WUP WUP WUP of the living room ceiling fan and the light tapping of the computer keyboard are the only sounds in the room. Occasionally I'll hear the muted roar of a tractor trailer leaving the supermarket around the corner, having made their deliveries for the night and now escaping under the remaining moments of night, as daylight creeps into the neighbourhood and the earliest of birds begins to rise and seek out their daily worm.

The index finger of my right hand is sore. I burned it bringing a pan of boiling water up the stairs to the bathroom, on the second floor of our 250 year old house. We lost our hot water yesterday, and while someone is supposed to come and look at the hot water heater later this morning, I needed to shave and for that I need hot water. Carrying the pan up the stairs, a few boiling hot drops splashed back and hit my index finger. I suppose it could have been much worse. But, as I said, I needed to shave.

WUP WUP WUP. My wife doesn't like the ceiling fan -- she seems to think it could fly off and decapitate one or all of us at any moment. But it's late spring and a bit stuffy in The Red Room, and the light breeze it whips up feels good. Also, in my sardonic, private moments, I must admit it reminds me of the Palmer family ceiling fan. "You were a good vehicle, Leland, but now you're old and full of holes and it's just about time to shuffle off to Buffalo." Selah.

I've read three wonderful graphic novels over the past week, none of which will be in stores before school starts back up. Drawn and Quarterly sent along advance reader's copies of WIMBLEDON GREEN, THE PUSH MAN AND OTHER STORIES and PYONYANG. Each is wonderful: Seth has a lot of fun with the comics collector mentality and lifestyle in GREEN, Adrian Tomine designs and introduces THE PUSH MAN, a collection of previously-unpublished-in-the-west stories by a Japanese cartoonist whose work is frighteningly good, and this book collects some of his earlier work from 1969. Better work is promised in future volumes, but THE PUSH MAN gets a big recommendation from me. Its peculiar brand of relationship horror seems right in the middle between Tomine's OPTIC NERVE and Junji Ito's sublime horror manga. THE PUSH MAN is not to be missed, and should be solicited in PREVIEWS soon (as will all three of these D&Q offerings, I'm guessing).

PYONYANG I haven't quite finished yet, but it's a non-fiction look at life in Korea from the perspective of a North American animator visiting on business. If that doesn't sound riveting to you -- it does to me, but you might not realize how packed with potential that concept is -- well, it is riveting. I love nothing more in comics than when a cartoonist can show me a convincing look at a world I know nothing of, and PYONYANG does that extraordinarily well.

WUP WUP WUP. The ceiling fan hasn't crashed down on my head yet. My e-mail inbox is packed with stuff I need to act on -- new ideas and new proposals, new questions and suggestions, new graphics and designs. So much to do. So little time left in which to do it all, at least if I want to meet my own self-imposed deadlines.

But if you're going to have deadlines, I suppose those are the very best type to have.

There goes another tractor trailer, roaring off into what is no longer the night. The morning is here. My finger still hurts, but I am shaved, I am clean, I am ready for the day. And thanks to the wonders of the three-day weekend, the week is already half over. I feel like it hasn't even started yet.

Let's go.


Lifelike Comics -- Please pop over to Movie Poop Shoot today and check out Dara Naraghi and Tom Williams's new webcomic Lifelike. Naraghi says:

LIFELIKE is best described as "slice of life stories...and beyond," and will
feature short stories and vignettes written by yours truly, and illustrated
by an assortment of talented artists. The debut storyline is titled "Skin
Deep," and is drawn by artist extraordinaire Tom Williams. Tom recently drew
the NO DEAD TIME graphic novel for Oni Press, and was the 2002 Day Prize
winner (as awarded by Dave Sim) for his self-published comic MISA. "Skin
Deep" chronicles the tale of two computer consultants, a tattoo parlor, and
a restaurant manager named Kathy...

I've liked a lot of Naraghi's minicomics over the past few years, and Williams's art was the best thing about the recent graphic novel No Dead Time, so this should be worth a look. Only one strip in, my only real comment is that it's off to a promising start -- and, well, is that Jeph Loeb? The guy with the glasses? Anyway, click on over and see what you think.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

FCBD Wrap-up -- Click on over to German site Comicgate's look at this year's Free Comic Book Day. I weigh in, along with a host of intelligent comics commentators. How they ever let me in as distinguished a crowd as that, I'll never know, but check out what we all had to say about this year's event.

Note, also, that the article is in German and English -- click on the English link at the top of the page or scroll about halfway down. Unless you're German, of course.


Two for Tuesday -- And welcome back, everyone who only surfs the internet at work.

A big THANKS! to Augie de Blieck for his link and kind words about my first attempt at podcasting, which debuted here yesterday morning (see what you miss if you take a three day weekend?).

As I mention at the end of the first podcast (me discussing Fantagraphics news for the month of June), Augie's excellent comics and DVD podcasts were a big inspiration for me to take the plunge and give it a try. And Augue has, this morning, provided a further push: I'm going to attempt to stream the audio so you don't have to wait for the podcast to complete downloading if you're impatient like me, or just want to listen to it at your desk and move on with your life. So, that's where the "Two for Tuesday" title of this post comes in.

So confident am I in my HTML skills (HA HA!) that I actually think this is going to work, so I am going to hit "Publish post," and move on with my life. Let me know if you have any problems with it, or if you have suggestions of what you'd like to hear discussed in future Galaxy podcasts. Thanks!

Monday, May 30, 2005

A Minor, Sad Moment in Comics -- Compared to the average comics buyer, I don't seem to buy a lot of floppy single issues. So they tend to pile up before I realize it. From the available evidence, it looks like I hadn't filed my floppies in at least two months, but I decided to get rid of the piles this afternoon, a nerdy process of checking which shortboxes have which series and then trying to get everything into some sort of order before returning the shortboxes to their unattractive but orderly arrangement near my bedroom door.

Putting stuff away this afternoon, I noted with minor, but genuine sadness that I was filing for the final time the last issues of Sleeper and Human Target.

One wonders if the geniuses at DC realize that they have replaced those titles with absolutely nothing I am interested in, and that they have lost those dollars forever. One wonders if they care.

But one does not wonder for long. When is that non-DC Brubaker/Phillips creator-owned series due...?


The Monday Briefing -- I know it's a busy Memorial Day three-day weekend, but here I am anyway on Monday morning, your internet pal who cares.

Galaxy Radio -- I've been in radio for 20 years, so you would think a podcast would be a natural for me. Hell, Augie's been doing them (and quite well, at that) over at CBR for months now! My wife and I invested in a new Pentium 4 a few weeks ago, and its memory and resources are apparently much better suited to editing digital audio, so yesterday I took the plunge into the first Galaxy Podcast, a kind of test-run that features my commentary on the Fantagraphics June Newsletter. So click here to download my first podcast, and I implore you, e-mail me with your thoughts. Like it? Hate it? Suggestions to improve it? Whatever your comment, please let me know. Anyway, Marshall's been pestering me to start a podcast for a long time, and it looks like the stars have finally aligned. (Thanks to Ian and Chris for prompting me to change a mispronounciation, too!)

Paul Moves Out -- The latest in the Drawn and Quarterly series of graphic novels by Michel Rabagliati ships this week, so here's a timely reminder to pick it up, and if you haven't already been totally addicted to Rabagliati's extraordinary storytelling, check out Jason Marcy's review of Paul Moves Out.

Super-F*ckers Ships -- Also noteworthy is this week's arrival of James Kochalka's Super-F*ckers. Read my 5 Questions interview with James to get a feel for the project, and be sure to pick this one up: I promise it'll be worth it.

Crumb Contest Deadline -- You have until about midnight tomorrow night to enter Our Crumb Contest here at Comic Book Galaxy. If you haven't entered yet, please click over to the contest page and send in your entry before it's too late! And coming very soon...the biggest Comic Book Galaxy giveaway ever.


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