Little Penis Post
My Great Big American Trip Day 3.
I have been bad. I leave you with the mother of all cliffhangers about my sketchbook and then when I get back home, I am too tired to post again, so you have to wait. But let me tell you how that ended.
Or no, let me just wait until the end of this report.
Yesterday I went into New York with Craig and his wife Clizia. They have been very good to me sofar, eventhough they have a big presentation coming up on Monday. Their house is filled with books and pctures and - dare I say it - love. It's a joy to be here, apart from the fact I won't be able to get "You're my sunshine baby boy" from my mind for the next few weeks, which is waht Craig sings to their two year old son Griffith all day. And as far as his singing voice goes, let's just say Craig saved the recording industry by not taking up that professionally.
Everything else Craig does, I love. I know there is a lot of competition and even backbiting in the comics reprint industry and not every book everyone does is met with universal approval, but I feel as if I am an outsider and can call the things as I see them. That means there are some books I think could have been better (and I have done so here, even offering scans of material), some books that are gorgeous (and I am looking into more ways of linking you to them) and maybe one company I have stopped buying from, however interesting their books may sound - because they always make a mess of it. And even the Greek God of Messages can't make me to tell you their name. But on the whole I think Craig Yoe, Dean Mulhanny (both at IDW), Fantagraphics (with all their faults), Drawn & Quarterly (where Jet Heer does his Gasoline Alley reprint series), Abrams and Titan (with the Simon and Kirby Library as well as their efforts to reprint Beetle Bailey and Hagar) are the top tier, Dark Horse, Marvel (epecially the Masterworks series), DC (the Showcase series) and Classic Comic Press (Mary Perkins on Stage) a very close second, with a whole slew of publishers who do not seem to be into it for the money, such as PS, Manuel Caldas from Portugal (who does stuff in Portugese, but his website also includes the wordless Dot and Dash about which I will post soon) and the German reprinting of all of Windsor McCay's Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend, which I consider to be more like really high quality fan productions.
But Craig has also done the Little Penis book, which takes some courage. "You know, you will be known as the Little Penis guy from now on," I said. "Why break a lifetime habit?" he replied.
Highlights yesterday included talking to Titan editor Steve Saffel about the upcoming Simon and Kirbt Library book with the best of their Science Fiction stories including all of their work in Race for the Moon). Because I try not to put stuff on this blog that you go out and buy, I may not have paid much attention to those stories, but anyone who liked my posts on Kirby's work for DC in the late fifties should have a look at thiese unadulterated science fiction fables straight from Jack Kirby's mind.
I also had fun talking to Chris Claremont, the only man after Simon and Kirby to contribute something essential to the Marvel mythos. His revamping of the X-man (based on ideas from Len Wein) introduced a new level of soap opera and intelligence to the comic books. he made Wolverine into the superstar he now is. He changed storytelling by taking dialogue to a new level (after which the caption style that was preferred by Stan Lee seems to have disappeared from the comics) and created so many new strong women characters, that he deserves co-credit on all of the X-men movies and probably some of the other Marvel movies as well. I caught him talking to a young African American woman with her hair done up as Claremont's character Ororo. She told him what an influence the character had been on her live and they talked about the diversity of African types and how badly they were represented still in American comics - as if the skin color on it's own was a character trait on it's own.
I also met and talked with Bob Camp, who was the director of the later Ren and Stimpy cartoons after John Kricfalusi left. "Do you ever see him?" another fan asked. "No, I have never seen him since I took over. When he was fired he asked me to take over the series and I asked him if he was fine with that. He said he was and thanked me for keeping the jobs of all the other artists safe. I also told him that I would finish the six stories he had left unfinished without taking credit and turn them in hte best John Kricfalusi shows [and they were] and he thanked me for that. After which he spend the next ten year vilivying me as the guy who pushed hm out and ruined Ren and Stimpy. He didn't even thank me for not taking a credit on those six. I became a pariah in the industry. If I got news tomorrow that he was run over by a bus, I'd be happy". He smiled ruefully. "Aren't you ahppy you asked?" The fan politely shook his hand and walked away.
I stayed to talk with Bob, who just happened to be good friends with my friend the Dutch gag and story man Wilbert Plijnaar, who has been living in Los Angeles for the last twenty years, working on films for Disney, Blue Skies (Ice Age), Universal (Horton and the Lorax). He and Wilbert were invited to the ranch of a big time producer to talk about a big secret new project and he typed up a whole report of their trip to the Dutch Comics Creators Forum. Wilbert and I go way back, to when I interviewed him when he was still in Holland doing comics and ended up sleeping with him in the same bed (before he had come out as a serial bedsleeper). Accompanying the interview he drew a caricature of me carrying by chin on a wheel barrow and since then I have a beard.
Bob Camp Also knew and admired Bill Wray, whom I have gotten to know online through our mutual love of Harvey Kurtzman. I may have remarked here, that ten years ago he turned his remarkable talents to painting and two of his paintings have pride of place in my living room. It's a small world. And Craig knows everyone.
Oh and when I got to Neal Adams booth the sketch book was still there. They'd found it and put it aside. I was so relieved as I can only imagine you are. I went on to add even more match stick figures to the book. Even Chris Clameond drew one, although it did take him a while. My ultimate goal would be to have evry artist who comes by here add one as well. I just have to find a way to meet you.