Hair fresh from my shower, I walk into the Fantagraphics office, still in my robe. Gary has convened a meeting and is complaining vociferously about misuse of an intern, who was apparently given a job to perform above normal intern capabilities — or who had screwed up a job as a result, I'm not quite sure which. He starts quizzing me about it, and in fact I suspect it was me who gave this intern (note to current and past interns: it was none of you) a huge interview-transcribing job that is the issue, but I deflect the interrogation by pointing out that I just got up and need a moment to settle in. He subsides, at which point Leslie Stein (of Eye of the Majestic Creature fame), who is standing next to him, picks up a microphone and begins signing a pop hit, with full musical accompaniment. (Fantagraphics has a karaoke machine? I don't question it.) Her singing is excellent. I decide I need to find a specific Tintin album for some reason, and as I'm looking for it on the office bookshelves — I keep finding clusters of Tintin books, but the one I need is always missing — I realize that Leslie is singing a Britney Spears song. (I don't remember which one. It's not one of the big hits, like "Oops! I Did it Again" or "Womanizer," and not that awful new Autotuned one either.) I smugly think to myself, "I bet Gary has no idea that's a Britney Spears song." (That Gary, he's so out of it.) Leslie finishes the song to deserved applause from the staff. She starts into a second one. In the meantime my search has shifted over to a search for a Love and Rockets collection, with similar lack of success. I hear a dog barking in the distance. It is my dog Ludvig. I wake up; he's downstairs barking to be let out.
Dream guaranteed 100% accurate. For earlier dreams go here and here.
The last time I walked into the Fantagraphics office in a robe with wet hair was 1984. I am not (at all) a Britney Spears fan, although I do think this is pretty awesome.
Ah yes, I remember that. 1976 or 1977. My family had just moved from Munich, Germany to Montpellier, France, and my Mother, my brother, and I were cooling our heels in our usual summer vacation spot of Copenhagen, Denmark while my Father was setting up our new Montpellier digs. (That would be the same Montpellier that currently serves as home base for Lewis Trondheim and Jason.) WIth ample time on his hands, my Father, who was (and is) an avid photographer, had just discovered the age-old trick of photographing someone multiple times in front of a black backdrop to create the illusion of multiple iterations of the same person (no, kids, there was no Photoshop then), and had sent us some hilarious fumetti of himself in various goofy disguises interacting with himself.
Around the same time, future Marvel Editor-in-Chief Mark Gruenwald (whom I knew well through correspondence) — at the time still a fan, of course — had self-published his TREATISE ON REALITY, one of the central tenets of which was that the Marvel and DC universes contained an infinite amount of "realities" each of which was created by an individual human decision (a kind of sci-fi version of chaos theory in which the butterfly does AND doesn't flap its wings). So in one reality Peter Parker decided not to go to that science exhibit and didn't get bitten by that spider, or Bruce Wayne's parents didn't duck down that dark alleyway, etc. Those reality-creating "decision points" he dubbed "nexuses" (or "nexi"?). Somehow in my geeky mind this combined with the technique my father had been playing around with and the whole family got together (note my Mother's credit for "flying cucumber" effect) and created this illustration of what would happen if, as I was reading Mark's treatise, I found myself having to decide among continuing to read it, going for a snack, or going to bed (the trifecta of choices pretty much anyone faces when reading late at night).
Everyone got a kick out of it (including Dean Mullaney, who was very much the "nexus" of that group) and I've been lugging around that set of Xeroxes for three and a half decades — until some wisenheimer in the Fantagraphics offices found it in a box and slapped it up on Flog.
Tom Spurgeon's recollection on his comicsreporter.com blog that this ties into a group of round-robin fan correspondents that included Rob Rodi and Jo Duffy (also Ralph Macchio — the future Marvel editor, not the Karate Kid star) is on the nose.
I don't even want to think about how many of this blog's readers weren't even born when I did this.
Rest in peace Mark Gruenwald, a good guy who died far too young. Hopefully there are thousands of other alternate realities where he's still happily editing Marvel comics.
I walk into the production portion of the office, holding a slab of cheese which I'm halfway through eating. Gary is sitting at a computer terminal discussing a book with a designer, holding his own halfway-eaten slab of cheese (or perhaps it's sitting in the chair next to him). I remember that the last time we crossed paths in the office both of us were eating cheese, and this spurs me to ask him if he's still working on the same piece of cheese. It comes out as "Same one?" and I worry briefly that Gary won't understand the question because it is pretty oblique (and slightly muffled by cheese), but he sees me glancing at his cheese and nods, "Yeah." He then adds, "You, too?" I don't actually remember if I've finished and started a new piece of cheese since last we spoke, but that would seem embarrassingly gluttonous so I quickly say "Yes." I glance over at the row of computers and one of the people working there is Quentin Tarantino. I am only mildly surprised. I take another bite of cheese. My wife's alarm goes off.
I should perhaps mention that in three and half decades we've worked together neither Gary nor I has ever walked around the office eating cheese. I did have pizza for lunch yesterday, though.
Description of this dream guaranteed 100% accurate.
Eric Verhoest et Thomas Spitaels ont le plaisir de vous inviter à l’inauguration de Trafic par
Vernissage en présence de l’artiste, le jeudi 8 septembre 2011 de 18h00 à 20h30 _
Eric Verhoest en Thomas Spitaels hebben het genoegen u uit te nodigen op de opening van Trafic door
Vernissage in het bijzijn van de kunstenaar op donderdag 8 september 2011 van 18u00 tot 20u30
Rue Ernest Allardstraat, 27 Bruxelles 1000 Brussel Belgium Tel : +32 2 514 91 52 Fax : +32 2 346 16 09
(Apologies to Tom Spurgeon for swiping his title.) That is one classy invitation, too.
I doubt the fact that the show's title is the same as the title of Jacques Tati's final movie is a coincidence; as I recall Tati's Playtime is Joost's favorite movie.
Colorist Hubert is working away on the next Jason book, Athos in America, a Low Moon-style hardcover of all-new short stories scheduled for release around the end of the year. Meanwhile, I'm revving up my translatin' jets. Here's a sneak peek at a particularly intriguing (we think) page from one of the stories, still virtually wet from Hubert's virtual brushes.
We were very sad to learn of the death of F. Solano López, the great Argentine cartoonist whose many contributions to Fantagraphics over the years included the graphic novel Ana, the Jim Woodring-penned Freaks adaptation, and many, many pages of delightful X-rated comics for Young Witches and Sexy Symphonies. I will be penning a full obituary/appreciation of Solano for TCJ.com over the weekend; in the meantime, courtesy of Jim W., here is a bona fide Solano López oddity, the first page of an aborted adaptation of the 1959 movie The Wasp Woman created by the Freaks co-conspirators for Roger Corman's Cosmic Comics line back in the 1990s.
Let me be clear here: Every word that follows is accurate.
I answered the phone at Fantagraphics, and it turned out to be Ernest Borgnine. The main cause for his call was to check on an order, but he also talked a little about comics, and generally about how important it was to follow your dream. I wanted to tell him how much I loved The Wild Bunch, but he waved off any talk of his movies.
"What a nice guy," I thought after I hung up, and went to tell Gary Groth. But I found Gary tearfully working on an obituary for Borgnine, which confused me for a couple of reasons, first because I'd just talked to the guy (was it some weird Borgnine impostor I'd spoken to, or was news of Borgnine's death wrong?), second because I wasn't sure why Gary was so upset, third because Gary said he'd been interviewing Borgnine's father for the obituary and it was so sad when your child dies before you do, but how could that be possible, wasn't Borgnine like 90 years old? What was his dad, 115?
Anyway, I went to our order department and tracked down three mail orders from Borgnine, which were also sort of sad, each was just for a couple back issues of nemo: The Classic Comics Library (at the special $2.00 discount price), he'd duplicated his order for a couple of issues between two of them, and two came with personal checks under different names, and one with a postal money order. He was that poor (and confused)? And if he was dead, should we cash the checks and send the orders or not?
Thom Powers was working at the office so I mentioned it to him, and he told me he'd talked to Borgnine about comics himself from time to time, and Borgnine was very knowledgeable except he called Tintin "Tintin" and didn't use the proper French pronunciation "Tang-tang." Given the sad circumstances, I did not tell Thom that, like Evan Dorkin, I think Americans pronouncing Tintin "Tang-tang" is pretentious bullshit.
I found myself in the David Letterman studio, where they were preparing some bit about "Borgnine gravy," and there was this huge tube going up into the studio's rafters, packed full of what looked like turkey gravy. I did not know if this meant they were going to spray Borgnine with gravy, or if like Paul Newman he had some sort of gravy recipe he'd commercialized, or even if (the most disturbing option) it was gravy somehow made out of Borgnine.
Then my wife's alarm went off and I woke up.
(1) The preceding was accurate, as promised, in the sense that it is a 100% accurate transcription of my dream.
(2) I almost never remember dreams, let alone in such detail, except for if I'm woken up right in the middle of one.
(3) Thom Powers hasn't worked for us for 20 years (he was among other things the first EROS Comix editor).
(4) It's not hard to figure out why Borgnine was on my mind: The last thing I did before going to bed was pick an image for our distributor catalog entry for Josh Alan and Drew Friedman's Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead Is Purely Coincidental, and I'd picked the iconic "For Christsakes! We're all Ernest Borgnines!" image. (This was the first time I'd thought of Ernest Borgnine since he popped up on an SNL "What Up With That" skit several months back.)
(5) The second last thing I did before going to bed was watch a YouTube clip of the French actress Sara Forestier accepting her César award for Le Nom des gens (The Names of Love), which I'd stumbled across because I'd just seen the movie and enjoyed it and was curious if she was as adorable in "person" at an awards show as she was in the movie. (As it turns out, she is. She's also very funny as France Gall in Joann Sfar's Gainsbourg movie, opening later this year in some cities.) Although I genuinely did enjoy talking to Ernest Borgnine, I have to wonder what kind of dream I'd had if I'd reversed my last two actions before going to bed and had had Sara Forestier on my mind instead of Ernest Borgnine. I think I will make a point of watching a Sara Forestier clip as the last thing I do before going to bed every night for the next couple of weeks, just in case.
(6) Ernest Borgnine is still alive, 94 years old, and has to my knowledge never produced, sold, or been covered in gravy. Thom Powers produces movies in New York. There are only two issues of NEMO still available from us and neither is currently discounted to $2.00, although if you do a phone order in the next couple of days and tell the person answering the phone "Ernest Borgnine sent me" we'll sell them to you for two dollars each. Seriously, do catch The Names of Love if you can, she really is cute. Also Gainsbourg.
Okay, we can't offer you the ninety-minute wait in ninety-degree weather outside the convention center, the greasy ten-dollar pizzas, the terrifying crush of Saturday afternoon attendees here to get an autograph from a Battlestar: Galactica co-star, or the sight of costumed attendees who apparently only chose the Flash costume because their more appropriate pick, Jabba the Hutt, was out. But what we can do is this!
SORRY YOU WON'T GET THE EARLY BOOKS?
The following books will have their world premiere in San Diego. If you order them directly from us we will have them sent to you directly from our main U.S. distributor's warehouse where they land on their journey from overseas in August, which means you will be getting your copy a few days before even the first of our distributors get them. (Note: U.S. orders only. Rush shipping not available — choose Media Mail from the shipping options to avoid being overcharged.) To this list we will even add The Armed Garden, The Cabbie, and Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson Volume 2, three books that for various reasons will miss San Diego and thus you will really be the first customers to get!
You can preview many of those books right now here on our website, and the rest of them shortly after our web guy comes back from San Diego! Just hit those links above and you'll see links to download PDF excerpts, and stay tuned for our usual photo and video previews.
Part of everyone's San Diego experience is to ask the Fantagraphics moguls penetrating questions such as "Where the hell is Pogo?" and "Why don't you publish XXXX??" and "Which Jacques Tardi album should I buy first?" For this weekend only, if you have a question for Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, or Eric Reynolds, add your question to your order and whoever you're addressing will personally answer it!
SORRY YOU CAN'T TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DESPERATION SALES?
On the last day of the convention, as Gary, Kim, and Eric survey the piles of unsold books and "God, do we have to lug all these back home?" panic sets in, suddenly fantastic sales deals begin to materialize faster than you can say "HOW MUCH for that Box Set?" Therefore we are not only offering 20% OFF EVERYTHING on our website — use coupon code FANTACON11 at checkout — but a whopping 50% OFF ALL our biggest and heaviest books (see them all here — note that items are discounted 40%, which works out to 50% when the coupon discount is applied) during the convention and beyond, from Thursday, July 21 (that's today!) through Monday, July 25 — and you won't even have to lug them home or pay all those extra baggage fees! We'll send them to you!
Ten words I got to use in my translation of the upcoming second Adèle Blanc-Sec book (trying valiantly for an SPX premiere!): bollix, bolster (as a noun), deucedly, dingus, harridan, insensate, pied-à-terre, pithecanthropus, plinth, and thoroughfare.
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