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The Late Ernest Borgnine, nemo: The Classic Comics Library, 'Tang-Tang,' and 'Borgnine Gravy.'
Written by Kim Thompson | Filed under Drew FriedmanAdventures in Slumberland 9 Aug 2011 2:03 PM

For Christsakes! We're all Ernest Borgnines!

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.