Friday, August 27, 2010

Detour Down Memory Lane

Hello, out there. Peabody here. And this is my boy, Sherman.

-Hi, everybody!

Put a sock in it, four-eyes. And then set the WABAC Machine for the summer of 1994.

-Which direction are we headed, Mr. Peabody?

The small, rural suburb of Alpine, California, where that mediocre writer, Jimmy Callaway, was raised.

-Sounds like a real Dullsville, Mr. Peabody.

Sherman, I've told you before, don't bring that nonsensical jive-talk into my laboratory, or it'll be the rack for you again.

-Yes, my liege.

In any event, we will witness the creation of Mr. Callaway's one comic-book-related, self-published magazine, or "fanzine," as they were known then. It was called
Spa Fon, and fortunately for all involved, it lasted merely one issue before dying an unremarkable death.

-Sorta like
Pink Lady and Jeff, huh, Mr. Peabody?

Oh, just shut up, boy.

Obviously, I was pretty heavy into EC Comics at the time. And yes, that is a self-portrait in the "Dorks!" circle.

You'll notice the staff list on the left-hand side. That was all bullshit. Matt and I were the only real guys, and he only did one strip. The other two names were just a couple of the clever little noms de plume I'd make up for myself, so it wouldn't seem like it was just me in my bedroom by myself writing all this crap and laying it out. Why I didn't want it to seem like that, I don't know. I was an idiot. I also can't remember what the newspaper article was from which I cut out that little chunk in the middle there, but I really wish I could remember.

The intro there was written by me on my old Brother word-processor, the apparent offspring of a Smith-Corona and an Apple IIe. I used that thing all the way through college, believe it or don't.

That "Notes" page was torn out of the instruction booklet for Excitebike. Nothing made for space filler like those booklets.

The "What Is A Comic Dork?" article is easily the most embarrassing thing I have ever written, barring my mash notes and rap lyrics. At the age of 17, I was trying to assert myself as a mature young adult, who pooh-poohed such infantile fantasies of power like superhero comics. That could not have been farther from the truth, but that virginity of mine had been hanging around all my life, and I was convinced this stand would help me get rid of it (I was wrong, of course).

"The Fanboy" and all the jokes therein were mostly observations Matt and I shared about comics fandom. Reading this now, aside from the sheer buffoonery of it all, what's really terrible is this attitude of "If I make fun of it, then I am exempt from it." Never mind the fact that just two years previous, I myself had lined up for two hours to meet the whole starting line-up of Image Comics, and had nearly shat myself when Todd McFarlane singled me (me!) out as exemplary of the kind of audience he was trying to reach. Yeah, too cool for school, that's Callaway, all right.

"The Comic Snob" was not only how I saw myself, but moreso, how I hoped guys I knew who collected comics and were in their early to mid-20s saw me. These were the guys I sought to impress the most. Yes, it was a sad childhood. Those cartoons on the bottom there were drawn by my buddy, Greg Bass, while we were stuck in Career & Family class that summer.

Shannon Wheeler, as I mentioned last month, was one of the many cartoonists cool enough to let me interview them, and himself a very cool guy indeed. Still is, even. I still think this interview came out pretty well, and I remember showing a very uncharacteristic tendency to edit it down to where it was readable, as opposed to some of the other interviews I ran in other zines, which just went on and on and on and on. And on. I dunno why I didn't capitalize all the "I"s either. I'd say I was being cutesy, but it's more likely I was just being lazy.

I'm still really proud of myself for using this as the centerfold. In fact, I think I'll print this up and hang it in my work station. Also, if you can remind me which issue of Weird Science this was in, I will give you a hug.

The top strip there was by Matt Swain, my best friend in high school and probably the most talented cartoonist I've ever known personally. We did a lot of zine stuff together, as well as just pretty much hang out all the time. We had a falling out when I was 19 and didn't speak for years, sadly. Fortunately, I pulled my head out of my ass and gave him a call up in Portland where he's been living for a while, and we shall be working together again, sooner rather than later, it is hoped.

The "Quarter-Bin Comics" was a favorite of mine, and I had a bunch more of these written. Sadly, the quarter-bin is all but extinct, replaced by the more expensive and less-fun-to-root-through dollar-bin. If I'm nostalgic for anything from my halcyon days of youth, the quarter-bin is probably it.

More of Shannon Wheeler. Fun fact: I dated a girl named Shannon Wheeler for about a year. No relation.

Jeff Levine, in his own much better and more well distributed comics zine, Destroy All Comics, actually took issue with that last comment Shannon made there about comics being easy. He wrote an editorial about how comics wouldn't ever be taken seriously if people just crapped 'em out like they were disposable. He put it better than that, and he had a point, but I don't think that's what Shannon was getting at, really. Y'know, it was so long ago, I really shouldn't be trying to even quote Jeff here (another super-cool guy who I also interviewed that summer. Does anybody know if that guy is still doing stuff anymore?). I mostly bring it up now because I was fucking elated that something I had published had gotten mentioned in a mag like Destroy All Comics. Too bad I didn't roll with that momentum when I could. Ah, well.

I stole this picture from a Gilbert Shelton comic, I can't remember which one. I have that quote written in Sharpie on my short boxes at home. I don't remember what a comic dork starter kit was. Probably something I thought might get people to write in. They didn't.

-Gee, Mr. Peabody, that was kind of a filler blog entry, wasn't it?

Yes, well, Sherman, you must recall that our Mr. Callaway doesn't have a WABAC machine in order to extend deadlines or such like that.

-He doesn't have much talent either, does he, Mr. Peabody?

Oh, you're a fine one to talk. Have you even finished my laundry yet?
Schnell! Schnell! Mach schnell!