Colin's Comment

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wow, I’ve been away for awhile… sorry about that, I’ve been so busy lately and then I just had to crash, I was totally burnt out. Saturday I barely budged from the couch, watching CFL football (I find it so dull and relaxing that I fall asleep watching it… not what the broadcasters had in mind I’m sure) and wondering whatever happened to good sportsmanship… really, the way the players carry on whenever they do anything right is just unseemly. It had been an active week…

I’d been running around for weeks getting stuff ready for Word On The Street and applying for a Canada Council Grant, I had to miss that month‘s cartoonist jam. A week ago Saturday I was at the Circus Art show opening at The Lucky Red, some really nice work on display and it was a great turnout. Rot brought his completed “Gothic/punk Road Warrior from Hell” car he’s been working on, I chatted with a couple young women who swore I looked like I was 36 and not 46, awww gee, clean living I told’em! There were a couple of dominatrix s in clown make-yup and strap on dildoes… an unsettling combination. I had to turn down an invitation to go drinking with a White Russian because I had the Word on the Street to do the next day. I took a detour to pick up bus tickets at the Tinseltown 7-11, walked through hordes of girls dressed like it was the Junior Hookers of Canada Convention, I asked a waiting parent in the parking lot what it was about. Maria Carey concert… ahhh, no wonder.

At the Lucky Red I also found out someone I knew back in the days I was hanging out at the Helen Pitt Gallery in the 80’s and 90’s but I hadn’t seen in years had committed suicide about a week before. Stan Lake, or just Lake after the sex change operation. He appears in Buddha on the Road #1, the guy at the opening talking about getting a sex change. I knew Stan back in art school, probably the first openly (wide openly) gay person I’d ever met. I liked Stan, he was funny, vain and outrageous but he could also be a sweet guy. I once did a caricature of him as a Conan the barbarian type (he always had this big mane of hair) for a poster for a show he was in “Surrey Metal”, which I hear he was quite annoyed with. Like I say, I hadn’t seen mush of Stan in awhile and anything I could tell you about him in recent years would just be repeating rumours. Still, it’s a kick in the teeth, hard to understand why someone would do that. Poor Stan… what an art wank thing to do…

The next day I was up bright and early, 8:30 A.M. (which may not sound early but I’m usually asleep until 11 or noon after working into the night before). I was carrying a full backpack, haversack, pulling a “granny cart” full of comics and carrying a portfolio containing the two CD racks I scrounged from a dumpster to turn into mini-comic display racks with a little foam core and glue. Display units, art supplies, tablecloth, art stamps, comics, mini-comics, digests, etc… As usual I was carrying far too much but I hate the thought of missing out on a potential sale! Fortunately for the first time I and my travelling companion Robin Bougie were able to take bus’s from virtually in front of our door to the library, last year we hiked it! We descended into the bowels of the library, down a long flight of stairs. You see, we are part of Word Under the Street , were they put all us nasty small press cartoonists, zinesters and poets who aren’t exactly “child-friendly” into a subterranean room to wallow in our own filth. What they really do is put a sign on the door warning parents that the stuff inside is potentially damaging to their offspring’s mental health, which of course doesn’t mean the place isn’t full of kids running about trying to look at your copies of “Shitman”. You try to warn them away but you can’t swat them as much as you might like to. Almost everyone was there, even Nardwuar the Human Serviette! I did really well this year, made nearly $200, although I know people in the far corner of the room (they have to change the table layout) did less well. It was busy almost the whole day, I saw plenty of people I hadn’t seen in ages, including that looney with the tennis racket who hung out in front of my table for 20 minutes without buying anything and this old guy who started talking about all the woes of the world, from global warming to homelessness and seemed to be looking to me to provide the answers. Then was the guy whose faces lighted up with joy when he saw “Shitman”, stood there reading the whole mini, laughing all the while, puts it back, gives me the thumbs up and walks away without buying anything. Yeah, your thumbs up means more to me than the money, douche bag. The mini I did about all the times the US has invaded Canada, “The Longest Undefended Border”, pretty much sold out. And they say people don’t care about history!

The weather was good, the Ink Muffin’s (a cheering squad that performs cheers for small press comics made up of local cartoonists Robin, Step, Terry and Laura… I kid you not), signs pointing people downstairs, the fact that Joe Sacco was there signing his new book “But I like it..” and I think the fact that Word Under The Street has been down there for so many years now that people come looking for us added up to a successful day for, well, most of us! Laura gave me a hand taking the bus’s back, I was so bushed…

I got to say hello to Joe Sacco briefly at WUTS, I’d seen him around conventions for years and we once were guests at a comics convention in Porto, Portugal years ago together with Roberta Gregory and Dave McKean. I once had a signing at a comic shop in Joe’s home base of Portland, Oregano and the only ones who showed up to see me were Joe and David Chelsea, bless‘em. I always found it interesting that as far as I know he and I were the only cartoonists to release comic books about the 1990 Gulf War. I hadn’t seen him in years as I’ve been a drop out from comics but I’d always been a big fan of his work, we share a interest in military history and politics. I think what Joe does is incredibly brave and he does it so well.

Fortunately on Monday Robin and I got to interview Joe at the Shaw Towers (yet another ugly building, a retro 50’s apartment building on top of a retro-50’s office building, that spring up in Vancouver overnight like weeds) after he’d appeared on a local morning show the next day. Yes another early day. The interview went well, we got into some pretty interesting stuff about the dangers of comics reporting. Joe was surprised our focus was so “comics orientated”, like when Robin asked what kind of pen he used to ink with. I guess the broadcast media don’t ask these sort of questions, but we are INKSTUDS! He had to rush off, Eric Reynolds was worried about the border (Joe has spent much of his life in the United States but remains a Maltese citizen) and Joe had a signing in Seattle that night. I wanted to talk about our Osprey book collections. Joe did say our interview was the highlight of his trip.

Afterwards I bought a book on manga, a 2 CD collection of Bob Marley and walked home. I kicked back awhile and then caught a bus to UBC to meet my mother, brother Leslie and Leslie’s best friend Darren to go to the first play of the year at the student theatre at UBC. A family tradition. I was pretty beat, can’t even remember the name of the play. It was okay, kinda funny and inoffensive but I’m beginning to think we need moratorium on gay coming of age stories, I’ve seen so many. I thought it all seemed a bit too easy and the ending trite.
Tuesday I got up even earlier, 7 AM, to meet Robin for breakfast and heading out to UBC once more to tape an interview with another comics giant, Jaime Hernandez over the phone! I knew him from conventions as well , particularly one we were at in France years ago. The interview was slow to begin with but soon picked up. We talked about how attached readers became to his character, he told us he even got death threats when Maggie put on some pounds! Finished that, went back to the ‘hood to shop for bread, fruit ‘n’ veggies, before flopping on the bed at home. I took a nap, a shower and headed down to Strathcona for Ole’s house warming party in quite a nice basement apartment. He had antiques everywhere and fabrics hung around he had gathered from his travels in the Middle East so it looked like a oriental bazaar! Ole has interesting friends, his band the Creaking Planks played (they wanted me to play a drum but I was just not up to it). I got a lift home, ran into Robin Bougie going to meet an acquaintance and I figure, what the hell, it’s only midnight! We went to Waves, a 24 hour coffee place nearby were I must’ve had my 10th cup of tea that day (by now it’s the only thing keeping me awake) and then walked this woman to the skytrain so she could go to Celebrities, a gay bar on Robson. We resisted her pleas to come with her, I don’t like clubs. I don’t like the noise, the crappy music and the drunk people. As we were walking by a crack whore waiting for the bus threw something glass at us, shattering behind our feet, no idea why.

Wednesday…no comics that day at R/X Comics, some sort of delay at the border… Finally get to do the laundry. It dawns on me that I’m supposed to be doing something for the Inkstuds flyer that Robin will be giving out at SPX, the lucky bastard! Time is short and it looks like if I don’t put it together nobody will. It’s not just me, it’s a matter of coordination. What format, how many pages, who’s in, what information to include? Robin Bougie, whose really good at lettering, will be doing the cover. Don King’s too busy, we’ve got a strip coming from Mike Myhre but nobody can tell me when. Time is short (turns out I had more time than I knew at … the time) and I was feeling burnt out and under pressure. I feel under pressure pretty easily. I need time to decompress. So I sat down and drew a one page strip “The Inkstuds Are On The Air” starring Don King, Robin and myself… drew it from memory, no time to think about how accurate my caricatures are, never been my strong point anyway. Pencils, inks, all in one go. I also pasted up a new Colin Upton Comics #4 mini-comic while I was at it…

Thursday. Rebecca Dart from upstairs is in the Harvey Pekar edited “best comics of 2005” collection! Hooray! R/X Comics has air conditioning! We could use it, although it’s nearly October in the sunshine it feels like a summers day! Go to office Depot to reduce artwork for Inkstuds flyer. Robin and I go to Dairy Queen for lunch… I gotta stop doing this eating out thing, can’t afford it. Run into Fat Joe Satan, he gives me a CD with a spoken word piece I spontaneously performed with his band once at a Lucky Red opening about a punk rock house I used to hang out at, “The Terrible House of Sickness“. Robin had just bought a Japanese mange, Corpse Delivery Service, which ironically is what Fat Joe does for a living. Came home with fistfuls of groceries I couldn‘t afford to buy previously as I‘d sunk all my money into photocopying comics.

Friday morning I was woken up by a call from my old buddy Alex Jansen who is a programmer for a Canadian film festival in Kingston, Ontario, I think it is. He was in town for the Vancouver film fest. We went to the Sunny Spot for breakfast, talked a lot about comics. After that I had more work to do for the Inkstuds flyer, borrowed the Inkstuds guest book from Robin to photocopy some of the sketches for the back of the flyer so back to Office Depot I go! Honestly, I prefer Staples copiers but Office Depot is much closer. Took’em home, realised I hadn’t reduced them by enough so I ran them through my 3-in-1 and pasted them up. This really isn’t that much of a job, although I really do need a break. Watch wrestling… ECW… wonder what that stands for? Extreme Championship Wrestling? That’s my guess… I'm starting to drift...

Saturday I totally flaked out, refused to leave the house. Robin Bougie dropped off the cover for the flyer, looks good, other Robin calls to say the Mike Myhre piece has arrived at R/X Comics but it’s a “bit square”. That’s okay, gives us space for contact info. It’s finally taking shaping … watched first two episodes of “Deadwood”… it’s pretty good, even if some of the characters are hard to understand. Look, it’s Lovejoy! Second season of the new Doctor Who begins soon on the CBC, I can hardly wait!

Sunday, feeling a little more human got the new material photocopied, shrunk down and pasted up, just getting final approval for the additional copy and we’re good to go. Take it to the copiers tomorrow, go to Robin’s place for an old fashion foldin’ party! Yippee!

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