We're off road and on safari and I'm disappointed by the scenery and lack of wildlife. Who knew safari would be a web-ready-low-res-jpg. Tim Root is at the helm of his beautiful van and very-sludgy-slow-dirge-metal spills from the speakers, punctuated by off-tempo-crunchy-fat-dub-beats. Eric Reynolds is sitting to my left and is giving me shit for not paying attention to Africa (both politically and aesthetically). I'm trying to draw comix despite the bumpy ride and "exotic" locale. Three dimensional shapes made of crosshatching rise from the panels I'm drawing. Sitting across from me is Kim Thompson, chortling. Kim's finding endless laffs and curiosity from my magical crosshatch comix. "Whatcha doing Jason? Haw! That's silly! Har Har! Are you cross-eyed from all that cross-hatching? Heh heh!" With every pot-hole my .001 Rapidograph slips resulting in a loud-sputtering-snort-guffaw from Kim. Rather pissed, I scold Kim, telling him he should expand his view of comix and that what I'm attempting is similar to what Lars Von Trier (one of Kim's favorite filmmakers) has done with Dogme 95 and his film-obstructions experiments. Without warning, Jim Woodring's visage oozes from the van's dome-light and declares "The content and flatulent ass eats horse-meat and white-corn from The Field of Ignorance and Tranquility." Kim overflows with laughter pointing at me and alleging, "I did that!"
Why is Eric kicking out the back window of Tim's van? "We've got company!!" yells Eric.
Eric, Olivier Schrauwen and myself are sitting with our legs dangling from the van's back window as a charging Audi approaches. The Audi is stuffed with spitting camels garbed in saris. The camels are keeping pace with us as they start cocking their Kalashnikov rifles.
Jason: "What the fuck are we going to do!" Eric: "I don't know but I'm not happy about this and I'm not going to stand for it!" Eric tries to stand up. "Fucking camels! I'm not partial to their kind and I'll be damned if this will be the end of me!!"
Sparkly tears are streaming down Olivier's face. His tense cheeks frame the biggest-most-genuine-smile I've ever seen. Cheesy-retro-computer-generated-rotateey-things undulate around Olivier's eyes. He lovingly looks at the aggressive camels and starts barking. At this point I'm uncertain as to whether or not Olivier Schrauwen is Jesus Christ. With each bark the camels disintegrate. Eric sits down. The camels are almost gone.
My crosshatched comic is now a finished book and as I ruefully hand a copy to Kim and point out that he's paid for the printing and distribution. Kim giggles as he flips through my book, "It's good work, Jason. My mother loves it."
A group of us are waiting to be served in a restaurant. The waiter arrives, and the person facing me evidently ordered paper-wrapped baked owl. (What he gets looks like a little owl mummy.) I puzzle over why this seems somehow wrong and disturbing even as the diner peels off the first bit of the wrapping, releasing a gust of cooked-bird steam and exposing a naked, baked owl wing. It actually looks pretty tasty.
The diner sitting next to me is Françoise Mouly, which, although tenuous at best, is enough of a connection for me to consider this a comics-related dream and include here. As I wake up I wonder if the French term for this delicacy might be something like hibou en croûte, but that's more like a meat baked in a pastry shell, like beef wellington.
In case you're wondering, a few minutes' googling here and now reveals to me that the correct term would have been hibou en papillote (but there is, mercifully, no such dish).
For some reason, the Eisner Awards are being held on a cruise ship, and I'm in charge of announcing all the winners, wandering from room to room with a microphone, being broadcast to the entire ship. Many of the winners are written down in languages I can't pronounce (including a particularly long title in Greek) and I try to make light of my mangling of the titles; appreciative roars of laughter from the audience indicate that I'm pulling it off and I think to myself, "I'm doing okay, I guess Jackie Estrada will have me back next year again to do this."
Then I'm in the Washington D.C. Capitol building. The legislative session has apparently ended, and a half-dozen senators rush down to the floor, where someone has set up card tables with comic books and little cardboard hand-written name plates, like at the last tiny local comic book convention you attended. Apparently the senators are selling mini-comics, although it's unclear whether this is some sort of fund-raising thing, or whether the senators wrote and drew them themselves. (Also, for some reason I get the idea they're all Democrats.) Curious, I walk up to the closest senator, who happens to be the actor Peter Boyle. (It has slipped my mind that he died about five years ago.) His comic is flipped open to a page of a huge erect penis, which I recognize as having been drawn by Gilbert Hernandez in full-tilt Birdland mode. I think to myself, "I never thought I'd see the day when they were selling pornographic comics on the Senate floor," an insight I wish to share with Tom Spurgeon, who is sitting at his own little table a few yards away. I move toward him, but before I can engage him in conversation, my dog barking in the basement wakes me up.
[For Kim's three previous comics-oriented dreams and more, see our newly-created "Adventures in Slumberland" Flog category. – Ed.]
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.
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.
I walked into Gary's office to ask him if he'd sent Johnny Ryan a contract for Prison Pit yet. He said he had. I asked him what Johnny's advance was. "Seven dollars," he replied. I was mortified. Gary stated that he meant to offer "seventy dollars" but when he wrote up the contract, he mis-typed and liked how it looked so much he decided to go with it. I suggested that perhaps $7 was more insulting than no advance at all. He laughed. I pleaded with him to reconsider. He wasn't having any of it. Suddenly, a large hawk landed outside Gary's window on the office driveway. We were captivated by its beauty. Someone opened the front door and the hawk casually walked into Gary's office. Its presence made me nervous. The hawk sensed my fear; it leapt onto my shoulders and began slashing and pecking me. Gary laughed uproariously. I woke up sweaty and mad at him. Where was Ernest Borgnine when I needed him most?
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.