It’s been a very long time coming, but I’ve finally been able to start on Coptopus issue #2. I’m worse than Dale Keown, man.

The first issue was a little bit tedious. I approached my first real comic project as something very clinical, something that needed to be perfected. On an intellectual level, I can’t stand seeing a comic artist’s style change as a series progresses – but on a totally practical level, it’s inspiring. Seeing Sam Kieth evolve as he was doing The Maxx was one of the more powerful experiences of my formative period. This time, I’m keeping it really organic – just doing what comes naturally, and I’m enjoying it a lot more, and liking the results.

I’ve also read a lot of really really bad indie comics. I won’t name any, but the recent deliveries have been hideous, and it makes me sad that these people get creative work consistently while I’m kinda stuck spinning my wheels. I have no business sense whatsoever. Come and get me, guys.

At this point, we have not had power for 48 hours. (I am posting from a computer at work, where I came to get warm for a little while.)

The snow started falling at around 11AM on Thursday, as I pulled into the Toyota dealership to have my car fixed for the various recalls that were recently placed on it. I read Kafka in the waiting room, because it seemed strangely appropriate. Fortunately, the repairs only took about 90 minutes, as there were many cancellations due to the weather, but by the time I got out, traffic had already slowed to about 20 MPH, and I was near enough to the grocery store for it to be foolish NOT to go before the storm hit in full force.

At first, every power outage is a little fun. It had to strike just as I was cooking dinner, though, so all of the half-cooked meat had to be thrown out, as there was also no refrigeration to be had. I ate pretzels, as we did our best. My niece and I made YouTube videos (to be uploaded when the power returned) to keep her from being afraid of the dark, and I played Colin Hay’s ‘Beautiful World’ on the guitar until she fell asleep. I continually called NYSEG, our local power provider, for updates. Each call seemed to push back the estimated repair time by 6 more hours, or three hours earlier than the time is was now.

All night, trees cracked like gunshots across the valley. You could hear the creak, and you closed your eyes and prayed that it was not going to fall on your house or your car. They are calling it a ‘wet snow’ – the gravity of it all is pulling down the trees, and twisting off branches ferociously, angrily. Each creak, or thud, intensified by the silence of having no power running, jolted me awake.

I went for a walk around the block in the morning, and it was still snowing. Trees were still falling, and a large branch had fallen on my car and caused a significant dent to an area of the roof. Power lines snaked black across the road everywhere, and trees had crashed into our fence and mailboxes, and into cars across the neighborhood, and into the road. It’s the most destructive weather I’ve seen in 30 years.

I pulled back the curtain and put together LEGOs until my hands became too cold to really use anymore, and then I laid in bed and read, and slept, and listened to Belle and Sebastian until I fell in and out of sleep until the nest day came around. I’ve been unable to draw or do much of anything productive, simply because it’s so cold in the house that my hands just become unresponsive. We brought in snow to melt to refill the toilets, and it is not melting.

It is now Saturday, and I came into work just so that I might stay warm, and have running water to wash up in. I ended up working for the 4 hours that we’re open, and it’s still better than being at home, and cold, and feeling this intense uselessness. I cannot function if I am not creating, and to have the time, but no means, feels like monsters clawing at me from the inside.

Not to mention a niece who needs constant entertainment and cannot have a conversation without contradicting every sentence you say. My nerves, as it were, are shot to hell. So, I spent the morning outside lopping off that the town had not gotten to yet and were preventing repairs and plows from coming along. Out beautiful maple tree, the center of our yard, is split in half, and subsequently tore our Japanese maple in half also.

We’re cold and hungry. I hope the power returns soon.

Four of my sketch cards have been discovered.

Gamorrean Guard sold on eBay for $40.

Quarren is currently listed for $150 but not sold yet.

Darth Vader is listed at $10.50 and climbing.

The fourth, Boboicullar, was found by a collector on the Scoundrel Publishing boards.

44 more to go – very exciting. I anxiously await my case from Topps, if only to have a piece of something I was a part of – but there’s been no mail for three or four days here due to the weather.

[Addendum : a fifth card emerges! B'omarr Monk listed on eBay for a starting bid of $99, BIN for $200.]

[And a sixth! Myo is listed at $150.]

These are things I like this week :

LEGO Fallingwater. Barnes & Noble had it in stock, they were offering free shipping, and I get a discount. I’ve wanted it for a long, long time now. I finally bit the bullet and bought it. One day, when I have a fancy office, this will go on a shelf of its own.

I also love the 3A WWRp robot sets. They’re insanely expensive, the customer service sucks, and they’re hard to get because the info is so sparse and inconsistent, but I still love them.

I also really dig this robot with a giant eyeball for a head, because all robots should have giant eyeball heads.

She had five tattoos, when we were dating. They were all poorly done, but she wanted to fuck the tattoo artist, so she kept on going back and getting these mediocre, blotchy, unaesthetic tattoos applied to herself. None of them really had any significance, aside from the fact that they were simply things that she liked, as if she were a billboard and needed to externalize these minor aspects of her personality, which was barely a flicker anyhow.

She had a peace sign inside her left arm, made of vines. Not any kind of thick, living, verdant vines – just a scrawl of what a child thinks vines look like. A thin tendril with leaves too far apart, and which belonged on a completely different type of plant. You could not touch the inside of her arm lightly, because it made her whole body shudder and convulse in the least sexy manner possible.

Encircling her left nipple was another ring of vines, identical to the first. These you could touch, but only because they had no sensation in them after a surgery she’d had many years earlier. I’ve always been attracted to scars, but a cruel part of me had always envisioned the doctors hacking away at her with a butter knife, as everything seemed so jagged and rough.

On her ankle was a cartoon of a fat bee that she had drawn. Despite being deathly allergic to beestings, she loved bees. Once, after a rainstorm in Philly, she stopped to pick a floundering bumblebee from a puddle, in spite of the fact that it could potentially kill her. I fell a little more deeply in love with her at that moment. I’ve never liked cartoon bees.

Inside her hipbone was a blue rose, which was probably the most acceptable tattoo of them all, though it held no more significance than a love of blue roses.

And on her upper back, on her right side, was a lion – all blurry greys and a disjointed eye. It attempted to be realistic, though it failed completely, and I could never get past the fact that one paw just seemed to wander off, Escher style, and never meet up with the rest of the body. I never said anything.

The sixth tattoo was going to be one of my design, based on her specifications. Lower back, a kind-of-Victorian pattern of wild vines – the real kind this time – with an empty space depicting the shape of a heart. I’d even convinced her to include a few bees. All of this was an effort to counteract the collection of ugliness that she’d branded onto herself, giving some kind of indication that she knew a little bit about art and style. I guess I knew at the time that she was going to cheat on me, because I also wanted it to serve as a territorial marking : I was here first, and now you have to look at me while you’re screwing her. I knew it was going to happen.

I’m coming down from a six-day vacation, precipitated by winter weather, President’s Day, and a cold that happened to incapacitate me for much of my free time. I’ve also had a stunning lack of motivation and creativity. Something has gone dormant, and that always makes me feel unsettled. I’d really like to chalk it up to illness, though that feels like an excuse.

I have a few potential projects that are up in the air which I’m not ready to discuss, mostly because of potential clients failing to come through in a timely manner. I’m good at doing work for other people. I’m great at painting for myself, or just making stuff that I feel like making, but this horrible mix of cold weather, frustration and perpetually blowing my nose has amassed to little more than a wastebasket full of tissues and a warm bed. So many beautiful ideas, and in my head, I feel like they’ve all pulled their heads into these little black shells and they refuse to come out until some mysterious catalyst convinces them otherwise. I don’t know what that thing might be just yet.

I’m also waiting for my projects to come back from the laser cutter, which will top out at three weeks by the time they get here. When I started using these folks, it took about ten days from start to finish, and most of that was shipping form California. I’ve spent summers working out in our family garage with a set of AV cabinets that the library was getting rid of, filled to the brim with wood bits and myriad nails and screws, and a few coping saws hanging on supporting beams, a pale mist of sawdust wafting through shafts of yellow daylight while The Black Keys played over some tinny speakers I’d torn off of an old CD player that stopped working 10 years ago. Sweating and kneeling in splinters and getting dirty and cut and alive. Sometimes, it feels like cheating to use a laser cutter and outsource pieces, and other times, it feels like a necessary part of evolution. I’ll never be able to afford the tools that I’d need to make cuts as precise as some of my ideas require. As long as something great comes out at the end of it all, that’s all I care about.

There’s this old episode of Star Trek : The Next Generation that involves (and I could be recalling this incorrectly) a whole bunch of special children being kidnapped from their home planet by a group of people who feels that they are more able to nurture these kids’ talents. There’s this one kid who wants to be an artist, so these benevolent people give him this sculpting tool that allows him to just think about the contours of what he wants to make as he passes this tool over the uncarved block of wood, and the image forms slowly. Ever since I saw then when I was a 12 or 13, I’ve always come back to that idea. How much of art is idea, and how much is technical skill, and where do they meet? Id getting stuff laser cut a Warholian answer to art, and does that cheapen anything? Is it a beautiful thing to embrace each new aspect of The Potential To Create and use it as deeply and intensely as possible?

I don’t even know why I care about these things. All I really care about is making neat things. I don’t care how.


Eleasa brought me some homemade garlic soup on Saturday, and while I’m not sure if it merely coincided with the natural departure of the cold, or if it precipitated it, I was able to breathe through my nose for the first time in a few days. When she lamented the fact that she hadn’t been invited to sledding this year, we made plans to head over the to epic hill at the local Elementary School and give it a shot.

So, I loaded my niece into the car on Sunday, along with three styrofoam / plastic ‘snow boogie’ sleds and braved the cold weather. At this point, there were only a few kids going up and down the hill, which banks at a steep 45 degrees at some points, and hundreds of other tracks up and down the hill had solidified the whole thing into a sheet of dense, smooth ice, making the whole thing especially treacherous and amazing.

After many years of not sledding, it was so simple and exhilarating. Of course, my ample frame couldn’t manage to keep the sled going in one direction without spinning me around in every direction, but laying back and rocketing down a hill, completely out of control, but ultimately safe, was a necessary, liberating experience. I’m sure there’s a good deal of metaphors in there too.

Eleasa began to throw snowballs at kids she didn’t know, and into the cars of her friends. I continued to sled. I didn’t even have to lock my car or worry about my keys – we live in such a small town that everyone knows everyone else, and we are relatively safe, and I really love it. It’s lonely, but I love it, and this was one reason why. After, we went for a slice of pizza at a cash-only place around the corner and watched at the owner wrestle with the ATM machine so that we could actually buy food.

More art will come soon. I’m trying to feel good about relaxing, and breathing, and the art of doing nothing – but it always feels like the art of losing opportunities.

We’ll see.

I stumbled upon a website called ‘Omegle‘. It connects two people to chat anonymously.

You can only imagine the wonders of intellectual discourse that it provides.


You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Stranger: hi im a guy are you a horny girl with msn and webcam?
Stranger: give me your msn
You: Give me $500
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Stranger: hey
Stranger: oi
Stranger: sup?
You: I am a wizard.
Stranger: aye
You: Also, I am a hamburger.
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
Stranger: there’s a party in my pants and you’re on the guest list!
You: I see there’s plenty of room!
You: No one told me that the host was a dwarf!
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: I am being told to say hello.
Stranger: Hi
You: What’s your favorite way to kill a man?
Stranger: Umm… I dont know, i dont kill people
You: Isn’t that what this website is?
Stranger: Sorry but I dont quite understand
You: Once, I poked a man’s eye so hard that it traveled through time and choked him as a baby.
Stranger: Right…
You: I know it was right. He was messing with my sister.
Stranger: Aha
Your conversational partner has disconnected.

Connecting to server…
Looking for someone you can chat with. Hang on.
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
You: The keep on slamming the door!
You: Why are bees using my door anyhow?
You: Hello? Isn’t this the bee-door support line?
Your conversational partner has disconnected.

I’m not going to lie. I have a crush on the TV insurance girl.

So, we actually reached escape velocity this weekend and left for Brattleboro, Vermont after dark on Friday night. It was snowing like mad to the south of us, but none of this weather was bold enough to touch us. I was grateful that something worked out for us, after the notoriously hideous luck that trailed me like a violent poltergeist all through last year.

We took my 2009 Corolla, armed with a variety of strategies to keep it from accelerating out of control should it decide to go rogue on us. With Eleasa’s confidence behind the wheel, it was a relatively quick 3-hour trip peppered liberally with loud gangsta rap and coffee and a small container of canteloupe. A strange little building in Massachusetts served as a rest stop along the way, with cold, empty parking lots winding around it, and a plethora of vending machines offering up ice cream and coffees (which were apparently far below substandard, but serviceable enough to keep our driver awake until we traversed the final leg of the trip). My eyes will not allow me to drive at night, and my stomach will not allow me to drink coffee with any regularity, so I feel like I’m missing out on some vital aspects of feeling alive. I used to dream of being a trucker, before I could drive, and these dreams have since become impossible for these two reasons.

Our hosts, Eleasa’s grandparents, live in a converted 1800s schoolhouse, with many of the wooden beams and structures still in place. Categories of books lined just about every wall in dark shelves. An entire wall of travel books greeted us at the entrance, followed by a low wall of cookbooks in the kitchen, and many books about boats and medical topics. Her grandmother, ‘Nona’, has spent a life freelance writing about food and travel, and has the evidence all around the amazingly adorned little house. This is a woman who is good friends with Lois Lowry and has hung out with the Carters. A small clock with visible gears chimed dull, atmospheric, ever so slightly uneven chimes every half hour. Spidery plants cast shadows from the front windows during daylight hours, and the stairs creaked wonderfully.

Her grandfather Herb, not biological, but through a third marriage, is a man in his late 80-somethings who still runs in 5k races and owns a 100-acre maple syrup farm in a portion of Vermont which is slightly more upstate. They are both amazing people, patient and happy, and they give me an entirely new perspective on aging, and finding joy and contentment.

Brattleboro is an old mill town, is featured prominently in an HP Lovecraft story, and houses the old Estey Organ factory. After an evening of drinking from a vast cabinet of interesting alcohols (which I abstained from), and sleeping until daylight was in full force the next day, we all headed out for a tour of the impossibly windy roads that comprise the town. The town is mixed with older structures, ski jumps and many bookstores – one with an Edward Gorey theme proudly displayed in their front window. Eleasa called me excitedly from across the street and told me that I had to come and see it right away, full of small skeletons and copies of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing signed by Steve Bissette. I bought a Paul Hornschemeier hardcover called ‘Mother Come Home’, and we stocked up on huge armloads of Indian food which I could not pronounce from a cash-only convenience store – some of which we used to tide us over until dinner, and the rest put into a box for Eleasa’s later enjoyment. I also bought the obligatory ‘maple’ product that everyone is compelled to return home from Vermont with – the object of choice being a small jar of maple mustard which I’ll need to work up the fortitude to try, though I assume it’s something akin to honey mustard. I also purchased a small shotglass for Shakti, who aspires to collect a shotglass from every state. This accompanies the one which I purchased from my stopover in Georgia on my way to Chicago this past summer.

We spent the evening at a small Yucatan restaurant, which was simple and delicious. Nona had actually spent a fair amount of time in Yucatan, and was pleased with the authenticity of the food.

When we got back, I was asked if I liked The New Yorker. Being a New Yorker, and something of an amateur intellectual, it’s one of my favorite magazines. I was despondent when our library cut off their subscription two years ago because they did not circulate amongst the general bottomfeeding redneckery of my town, despite the fact that I read it every day over lunch. I was given two years worth of New Yorkers which were headed towards the recycling – a good portion of the ones I had missed, and I read them excitedly under lamplight until midnight passed. I learned all about a neurological disorder which causes people to eat their own hands and pull apart their faces, and sabotage as much of their lives as possible (which I now want to paint, somehow), and understood a whole lot about some of the superficial, asinine awards given out in the art world. Having just submitted artwork to the 2010 Eustace Tilley contest, it felt like things had come in sync, somehow.

I enjoyed a tour of all of the artwork in the house, much of it by friends and family. I’m usually not a fan of ‘wall’ artwork, but this was a house filled with intelligently chosen, wonderful artworks from all genres – abstracts, illustrative prints, charcoal drawings. All of it said something, and expressed a deep personality. Maybe I was just especially receptive due to the warmth of the house, but I enjoyed it all tremendously. I came away inspired by the colors.

Eleasa expertly made us an elaborate breakfast on Sunday, and after much more reading of The New Yorker, I loaded them into the car, as well as out small amount of luggage, and new boxes of food, and shook hands and hugged goodbye. I was welcomed back anytime. In fact, they seemed to want me to come visit sooner rather than later. I’m so unaccustomed to welcoming grandparents, as I’ve spent a life with a couple who have palpitations should company even be suggested, and the delicate facade of normalcy and pristine cleanliness doesn’t have enough time to be woven.

It was a beautifully simple weekend, reading in the sunlight, being obligated to nothing, meeting incredible people and enjoying the company of a wonderful human tornado of a girl.

I am back home again, with a renewed sense that it is never too late, accompanied by sense of wanting everything to happen right away. I’ve waited long enough.

I was invited to disappear into the wilds of Vermont this weekend with a dear friend, because it is obvious that I am in need of disappearing lately. There is a restlessness that can only be cured by nothingness. I plan on bringing a book, paper, pencils, and an iPod full of inspiration. I think that this might be all I truly need in the universe.

Of course, this is weather permitting, and the quick and dirty storms that have been assaulting the northeast at unexpected times are scheduled to hit when we’re aiming to travel, so I hope for the best. If not, I will turn up the heat and hibernate with the same tools I planned to bring along with me anyhow, and probably watch lots of wonderful and awful movies. I never give enough time to the nothingness – it’s always this intrusive somethingness that pushes its way in, and I graciously make room in the bed for its cold feet and loud snore. But I love it anyhow.


I need to paint more, but my mind is spinning in 3D lately and I can’t get it to calm itself into two dimensions again.

Have you ever been so in love with someone that you just wanted them to go far away?

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