Just in time to make its San Diego ComicCon debut, Falling Rock National Park #4:
SUBSCRIBERS: email me if you’ve changed your address in the past six months. I will mail these out before I head off to San Diego. Expect your copy mid-July.
EVERYBODY: I will soon post a preorder button on my BUY BOOKS page. If you’d like your copy hot off the press and can’t make it to San Diego, you’ll still have a chance to get some of that sweet Falling Rock action.
I’m looking forward to getting this out into the world!
As of today, I can go to my grave with absolutely no regrets.
My friend and partner blogger Slider K Shaftacular is a big man. Big in size (clocking in at 7’2” and a ripped 330 lbs soaking wet) and big of heart. I have never sung a song for him at a festival in his honor, but I would if given the opportunity.
In 2002 Slider wrote a novel. He poured his 22-year-old soul onto the page and then sent it to his most trusted friends. I am proud to say I was on that list. What happened next haunted me every day until just recently.
Slider sent the book as a series of Word files. I had a small computer and no way to print 300 pages. It came down to me sitting at the computer, trying to enjoy my friend’s soul. I couldn’t get past the third chapter. Slider, to his everlasting credit, did not prod me about the book. By simply not telling him I never read his book, we both understood implicitly that I was a failure of a friend without having to actually say the words.
Longtime readers of this blog have probably inferred that I love technology. Not only does technology make life easier, it makes life better. I have every Falling Rock strip I ever made on my phone just because I like to see how my work can be stored and accessed as easily as The Beatles’ entire catalog.
It occurred to me recently that I could read just about anything on my kindle. As long as I have a digital file, I can convert it and upload. Somewhere in my lizard brain, a connection was made. I dug up Slider’s book (fortunately my packrat tendencies extend into the digital realm) and converted it to kindle’s file type. This all sounds very exciting – I know. I include it in this blog entry not for padding but as a matter of historical record. At long last, I could read Slider’s book with ease and comfort.
And read I did! Right after I finished the Tom Perotta book I was into at the time.
Hitler’s Milkman is the story of one man’s life as told by other people. Some, like his son, know him quite well. Others, like the young artist who sketches him before he abruptly leaves the coffee shop, don’t even know his name. It is a life story as written by a man who just graduated college and can’t wait to begin his own.
My favorite chapters chronicled the man’s gig as a night janitor at the courthouse and his teenage job at a retail stockroom. The former rang true due to Slider’s own reminiscences of his days working night shift at a hospital (he is now Dr. Slider, so working long hours late at night are well behind him. Ho ho ho). The latter, because most of us have had to work bad jobs for small pay while corporate stooges berate us for our perceived shortcomings.
There is a very sweet chapter near the end in which the man sells two valuable baseball cards to a card shop. The book is at its strongest when the narrator of the chapter has a small but meaningful exchange with the man, even if they only meet briefly. When a simple transaction, the exchange of goods for legal tender, can be spiritually meaningful, the book becomes more than a series of connected short stories.
What interests me most about the book now is that I can listen to Slider as a younger man, before marriage and career and kids. He was calling his swing. Better than merely laying all this out in an email, he wrote a book. A funny, sweet, and clumsy projection of what may be.
Now that I have finished Slider’s first novel, our friendship is secure. It was a bit touch-and-go there for the past decade. I only hope that, when he writes his second, I will be more prompt with my attentions.
Yet another hint that our dear friend Bill Watterson might be planning some kind of return. In what is possibly an homage to my April Fools Day Falling Rock strips, Bill ghost-drew a few panels in Pearls Before Swine. Read Stephan Pastis’ full story here. The behind-the-scenes story is almost as good as the finished product.
The best part about this is these strips will be sold at Heroes Con with proceeds going to charity. If only I had a couple grand to spare, I’d snap these up.
Let me use this space to cordially invite Mr. Watterson to San Diego ComicCon next month. Mr. Watterson: no one will recognize you, unless you look exactly like that 30 year old photo, so you won’t be mobbed. San Diego has some very nice bike paths, so you can get some rides in while you’re there. And if you stop by my table (Small Press K-05) I will give you free comics and a beer (or whiskey if that’s your drink).
I was recently commissioned to do a chalkboard drawing for Reed College Reunions. If you’re back at Reed, you can see this in Kaul Auditorium. For everybody else, here’s what it looks like:
It was a real treat to work on such a large scale. (Note: to cartoonists, anything bigger than a 3″ by 3″ square is considered large scale.) So as not to become overwhelmed, I made a small collage and printed it on a transparency. I then borrowed an overhead projector (which was covered in dust; no one uses these brilliant contraptions anymore apparently) to project the collage onto the chalkboard. The chalk drawing was done with sidewalk chalk and wet-erase chalk markers for the lettering.