WE WIN!

A feat thought by some to be unachievable became a reality a couple days ago when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. I never get tired of writing that or saying that or thinking about that because that makes it more real.

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Finally, the men in blue put together 11 wins in October. Cub fans, especially older Cub fans know what it’s like to endure  not only losing but also constant ridicule from everyone from White Sox fans, co-workers even the national media. Every year they made the playoffs ESPN would rebroadcast the 84 or 03 NLCS. Finally they have to bury that shit.

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Thanks to a team of young studs that don’t know or care anything about those teams, the north siders are set up for a possible dynasty. Even when fans lost hope,(myself included) they come charging back. Down 2-1 to the Dodgers, 3-1 to the Indians and after losing a 5-1 lead late in game 7 when your horse of a closer gets lit up for a tying homer, these boys still come back in the 10th inning of the greatest game 7 ever and score 2 runs to win their first championship since the dead ball era.

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I know a lot of you don’t care about sports but this is bigger than grown men playing a boys game. I can’t count the times I have been mocked or even at times bullied when I was a kid simply for being a Cub fan. Those who stand by their team especially in rough times (108 futile years) to me shows something about that person’s character. Anybody can be a fan of whoever the current champion is. That just means you’re a front runner, a coattail rider, a brown noser even. If I knew a job applicant for my company was a front runner I would never hire them. I could never count on their loyalty.

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This World Series win is like the payoff for putting dollars into a slot machine for over a century. That payoff came in tears and the release of energy that could be felt worldwide. Everyone has a story about a family member or friend or partner that was no longer alive that was a lifelong fan. For those of us still in the body, we had the weight of 50 giant gorillas lifted of our backs on Wednesday November 3rd 2016. This was the last great American sports story. I’m trying to think who should play Joe Maddon in the movie…

The Forever Headphones are No More!

On December 7th, 2011 I bought a pair of pink V-MODA Vibe headphones on Amazon for $24. I had purchased several of these before because they short out after 2 or 3 months. Even though they only last a short time I kept buying them because they have a great sound for the price. Actually the order was for 2 pair, a pair of gunmetal phones for me and the pink ones for Janet. The gunmetal set was $38.

Fast forward 2 months later, my phones short out as usual so I borrow Janet’s pair. She hardly used them and mine were in use all the time when I work, at the gym, even overnight I wear them so I can use the sleep machine app and listen to old time radio to help me sleep. I never gave them back.

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This morning, the forever headphones (which is what I named them after they just kept going) finally shorted out in one ear. It was the end of an era. By some fluke, some miracle of modern manufacturing, I had been able to use a product that is surely created to fail in a short period of time, for almost 5 years.

Just looked on Amazon and the few remaining sets of this model are now $39. I’m reluctant to buy them because the odds are so against the next pair being anything like the last pair. They will never surpass the forever headphones. A moment of silence please.

Darling Lily, Every Day Is A Good Day

Yesterday we lost our dog  Lily. I can’t believe I’m saying that because she was our youngest dog. The Doctor thinks it was acute kidney failure brought on by bacteria, virus, cancer or whatever. Point is they shut down.

We just survived a trip over mountains, rivers and through dark of night. Then we get here and our youngest dog gets sick. Just an intestinal drama, nothing we haven’t seen before. Nothing some chicken & rice won’t fix. Not this time.

If you don’t know Lily’s story here’s a summary. She was literally thrown to the wolves by her chickenshit puppy mill owners because an inspection was coming. Only her and her sister survived and they were taken in by a rescue and we adopted Lily from them. When we picked her up her fur was so thick she almost looked like a sheep and was a little smelly. It didn’t matter, we were already in love with her.

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This pic Jan snapped of Lily on our trip really shows the happy fun loving little pup we got to know.

The four years and four months we had Lily were the best of times and the worst of times. Puppy mill survivors have serious PTSD. She would freak out at the slightest movement or sound. Even after she got to know us she still would not let us stand behind her. She’d always find a way to circle behind you. Because of this skill I nicknamed her Nightcrawler. Cockers are known for having weak bladders but we ended up taking her out every hour because being raised in a cage she was still new to the whole housebroken thing. Only in the last two years or so have we been able to leave home for three or four hours without wondering if there will be a puddle. She made huge strides in the last few years. She would actually wag her tail and be playful with her brothers when it was just us hanging out.

The rescue told us she was 2-3 years old back in 2012 so that would make her 6-7 now, but our new vet thinks shes more like 8-9 based on her teeth, which we did a dental on in 2012 but now she was in need of another. The things this dog went through were horrendous. In addition to the puppy mill she had heartworm. They gave her two rounds of that heartworm medication because the first round didn’t kill all the heartworms. That medicine is toxic as hell. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with damaging her kidneys.

Even though this is a stunning and tragic event in our lives, we had a moment of clarity as we sat in the backyard having a kombucha toast in Lily’s honor. For Lily every day was a good day. She escaped a prison and landed in a place where she had both human and animal companionship as well as unconditional love. She learned what is is to play, receive treats and frolic in the snow for the first time.

We had 4 years and 4 months with Lily which isn’t as long as we imagined we would have with her, but I know she appreciated every day she had with us. She worshiped Janet and would often wait by the door when she was gone. When there were thunderstorms or fireworks then she would come and hide near me or jump on my lap. A day that I will always treasure is the day we spent in Billings Montana at the Motel 6 on our trip to Washington. We didn’t arrive until 6:30 am and were just beat to shit. We decided to push everything back a day and just spend the whole day sleeping. Janet, me, Odie, Herbie and Lily all piled into a queen size bed. Best sleep of my life.

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Odie was a huge part of Lily’s development. Since she was so afraid of people, he made it a lot easier for her to lean on him as a big brother.

Sometimes I think I’m done, all cried out. Then I’ll think about her or mention her name and it starts all over again. That’s when I remind myself that we gave her a great life. I think a lot of people would have returned her to the shelter given all the baggage that came with her. They would never have gotten to see the beautiful dog she became over the years. Her sweet kind spirit will always be with us.

There are many organizations that oppose puppy mills, here are a few.

 

The new website

Sometimes you just get stuck. For whatever reasons we have a hard time doing things we know need to get done. That was the case when it came to updating my website. My site was built back in 06 and looked like it was even older. The look was cluttered and was hard to navigate. I knew it needed updating but the task seemed insurmountable so it just kept getting kicked down the road.

About a year ago Janet & I bought RapidWeaver a WYSIWYG software that’s pretty affordable compared to the Adobe CC monthly subscription commitment. Jan built her site and it came out great, but for some reason I had the impression that it was hard and confusing so I made excuses to not use it. Finally, about a month ago I started playing around with it just to see how it worked. It couldn’t have been easier. There are a lot of third party add-ons you can get but my site was finished using a third party theme but nothing else.

It did take me a while to finish the new site but a lot of it was spent preparing content. Once all content is prepared assembling the site itself was a breeze. I fell behind on the Ninja Bunny webcomic but ended up finally creating the YouTube channel I’d been putting off making and along with the motion comic you see here. Man, feels good to be un-stuck!

Remember when Cons were fun?

Yesterday I registered for this year’s Motor City Comicon in Novi, MI. Didn’t make the 2015 show because of farting around on my part thinking there was plenty of time then I looked up and it was sold out. That’s a good show and it’s getting better. People tell me it was packed last year. Since this is likely our last year in the Midwest, we decided one last MCCC was a good idea. It will also be the only con we plan on doing this year.

Last year’s con season left a bad taste in my mouth. The Chicago Wizard show was a big letdown not just financially but it seemed to portend a bleak outlook for cons in general. At the 2015 show we had the best table we’d ever had in all the years of being in artist’s alley. We were surrounded by talented creators, the famous and the not yet famous, in the front, against the wall. We ended up not covering table costs for the first time in three years and it wasn’t just us. I talked to several other artists and vendors and they said the same thing.

This is my theory. First of all it just plain costs too much. If $75 just get’s you in the door for one day and that’s it?  There’s not much left to spend so you have to be very discerning when it comes to your purchases. I can’t tell you how many times I watched parents dragging their kids quickly in another direction as soon as they looked at our booth.

So I’m feeling kinda bummed about the whole idea of working conventions as a form of self promotion. On one hand you have the big corporate beast squeezing the life out of the small creator and the fan, on the other there are heavily curated shows that decide who gets a table and who does not. Then I saw this.

They only have 20 days left and they’re a long way off but if everybody who bitches about Wizard gives 5 or 10 bucks they could make it happen. I gave what I could and I really hope they’re successful. The best part for us is that the 2015 show was in Salem, Oregon. Where we’re planning to move. Looking forward to doing that one.

 

The Force Awakens

Last night I went to the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Props to Terry Gant of Third Coast Comics who puts together a bunch of movie premiere parties as well as monthly meetups & Karaoke events that are awesome. Usually I’m the kind of person who waits a week or two then catches a matinee when a movie I like comes out, but this time I decided to be “among the first” to see this mega blockbuster.

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I had been to one of Terry’s premieres before (Guardians of the Galaxy) and had a good time but I remember having to get up during the flick to use the washroom because I’d had too many cocktails from our private bartender. I still don’t know how they escaped the prison! This time the plan was get there just before the movie starts, have one drink and nurse it through the movie. Turns out that wasn’t such a good idea because every seat was either taken or being “held” for folks who weren’t there. Luckily I was able to squeeze in between two middle aged ladies, one of whom was already half in the bag.

The movie itself was everything I had hoped it would be. I don’t have the same attachment many Star Wars fans have with the franchise since I was 20 when the first movie came out so even though I really liked it, it didn’t influence my childhood the way it does some of the die-hard fans. JJ Abrams is one of those fans and he has made a movie that is a love letter to the other fans who have been sadly and in some cases angrily disappointed by the films made since Return of the Jedi. Even tho this movie introduces the next generation of Star Wars characters, it has the advantage of having the original cast included thus giving their blessing, if you will to the youngbloods. As every beloved original cast member made their first screen appearance they were greeted by thunderous applause, like we were attending a live performance. I’m not going to give any spoilers because I HATE people who do that, but I can say that if the hardcore fans don’t like this one, just hang up your robe and lay down your light sabre.

 

To SPACE…No More!

It’s been just over a week since I got back from SPACE so I’ve had time to rest and reflect on the experience. In case you’ve never heard of SPACE the small press & alternative comics expo, it’s been an annual event for the last 16 years held in Columbus, Ohio. It was the first comic show that I worked as a creator.

Back in ’06 Janet & I rented a car and drove through the desolate wasteland that is Indiana to the buckeye state and spent two nights there for the one day show on Saturday. It was held at some masonic hall with really creepy photos of past members on the walls. Cerebus creator Dave Sim was there.  My first book, Complicated Hair #1 was all I had literally on the table. No cloth, signage or promotional items, just a lot of excitement and determination. We ended up selling probably less than ten books but we did meet some really cool people. Moreover, now I felt like a professional comics creator because not only have I written & drawn a book and had it printed but I finally get to be on the other side of the table something I’ve wanted to do my entire life.

The next SPACE trip was 2013 and that was my first road trip to a con since the “06 show. I didn’t have really high expectations but expected to do much better this time simply because I had four other books and other things like sketch cards & magnets. To my surprise my sales were similar to the first trip!

The Chrysler 200 was the road dog for this trip. Smokin' interior and loaded with options that I didn't figure out until it was time to give it back. At one point I asked Michael,"does it feel like we're doing 90"?
The Chrysler 200 was the road dog for this trip. Smokin’ interior and loaded with options that I didn’t figure out until it was time to give it back. At one point I asked Michael, does it feel like we’re doing 90?

So now to the latest trip. I decided to give SPACE one more chance. Plus my friend Michael who accompanied me on the last trip wanted to see the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum. We did see the museum and I’ll recount that experience in a future entry. I was worried that we couldn’t set up the day before but setup went smoothly Saturday morning. There seemed to be decent attendance but it was well after noon before I got a single sale. By the end of the day I was ready to slit my wrists. In my limited experience doing comic shows this was one of the worst days ever.

First sale of the day around 12:30.
First sale of the day around 12:30.

Sunday we roll in about half an hour late full of a good Bob Evans breakfast. Since I’m selling next to nothing I took a few minutes to look around and check out the other artists. By the time I finally got to my table I’d accepted the reality that it was all a loss and was having a conversation with one of my neighbors that had a table literally in a dark corner when Bob Corby the show’s organizer appeared at my table.

Harvey Pekar's widow Joyce Brabner was there selling back issues of American Splendor. I got this nice copy of #2 for $10.
Harvey Pekar’s widow Joyce Brabner was there selling back issues of American Splendor. I got this nice copy of #2 for $10.
I met Andy who does The Manor and we talked about the fact that he's doing 14 cons this year! Also, The Manor is based on his home which he believes to be haunted.
I met Andy who does The Manor and we talked about the fact that he’s doing 14 cons this year! Also, The Manor is based on his home which he believes to be haunted.
Michael turned me on to the cowboy mummy so I had to grab a couple'a copies. Hey cowboy mummy, that's almost as crazy as say a ninja bunny assassin!
Michael turned me on to the cowboy mummy so I had to grab a couple’a copies. Hey cowboy mummy, that’s almost as crazy as say a ninja bunny assassin!

Bob is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. This show is a labor of love for him. So Bob tells me that a spot just opened up in the main room. Apparently somebody got sick and left early and the spot that was open was the first table on the right as soon as you walk in. This has to be what they had in mind when somebody came up with the saying”closing the barn door after the horse is gone”. I kindly accepted Bob’s offer and moved. At the very least the energy was better at the new table since for the first time I got some not so friendly neighbors. The new spot was prime and right next to the front door which made for easy load out.

Without knowing I had booked the room at the same Best Western Janet & I stayed in my first time in Columbus. How fitting to come full circle with this SPACE experience. This will be my last SPACE experience. Even though it’s a wonderful idea and the people are awesome, for whatever reasons it’s never been a good show for me. Maybe it’s a regional thing. The cartoonists and fans of Columbus are very lucky to have a show like SPACE. There is no show that is equivalent to it in Chicago which really sucks when you consider the size of this city and the talent here. Sure there’s CAKE but that’s a curated show that’s difficult to get in for some people whereas SPACE is first come first in. I wish everyone involved well but I shall not return.

 

Disco Demolition Remembered

Yesterday July 12th was the 36th anniversary of the infamous Disco Demolition promotion at old Comiskey Park. I have vague memories of my 21 year old self attending that twi-night double header having no idea that I was about to witness an historical event.

Steve Dahl was a DJ on what was then the premiere rock station in town WLUP. Steve had recently been fired from WDAI who used to be top dog until they literally went disco overnight. I was a regular listener to his morning show on WDAI and was shocked when I turned on the radio and heard some announcer welcoming me to the new Disco DAI! I thought it was Dahl pulling a prank.

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Steve Dahl and Loreli the original Loop girl.

There were several reasons I hated disco.

1) I can’t dance. Apparently just being black does not guarantee you will have moves.

2) I couldn’t afford a white 3 piece suit. To be a rocker all you need are jeans & t-shirts.

3) Disco seemed to glorify this shallow superficial lifestyle where you are judged on how well you dance, what you wear and how big a schmuck you are.

So when Dahl organized this demolition thing I was all over it.

So I was able to rustle up 98 cents and a disco record (I think it was “shake your groove thang” by Peaches & Herb) and headed off to the ballpark.

By the time I arrived they were telling people to just keep their records and pay the 98 cents. Sweet! I get in the event and get to return my roommate his disco record. I don’t remember much about the game which I believe the Sox lost, but I do remember records flying through the air like frisbees and an odd mix of people that could give a shit about baseball and were only there to see Steve Dahl and watch some records get blowed up real good.

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It’s like That 70’s Show for real! Where’s Fez?

Fast forward to the ceremony. After Dahl & his crew blew up the records there was a thunderous response and then somebody ran on the field. Then 2 more ran on then 10 then 50. I had seen old footage of fans running on the field to celebrate, like when Bobby Thompson hit his famous home run. So I’m thinking. when am I gonna get a chance to do that? Right now that’s when! As I hit the field I head right for second base because I thought it would be cool to say I slid into second in a MLB ballpark. Second base was gone.

Bedlam I tell ya!
Bedlam I tell ya!
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Well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

All the bases were gone, literally stolen. They would have taken home plate if wasn’t a big slab of rock. Well then. I remember jogging past the dugouts and seeing a look of pure terror on the faces of the players & coaches. This was officially out of hand. I remember standing amid the chaos and looking up to the stands from a view I had never experienced before taking in the surreal moment. Then it dawned on me that now was probably a good time to get my ass off the field. I had been back in my seat for 15-20 minutes when the Chicago riot police arrived on horseback to the cheers of White Sox fans.

7/13/1979 -- The White Sox scoreboard message goes unheeded as thousands of spectators engulf the field during an anti-disco demonstration that caused the second game of a double-header to be called off. Detroit won the opener 4-1. UPI photo by Hank DeGeorge.(demolition,Comiskey park,baseball pro,Chicago)
Damn! That dude looks familiar!

When I got home that night my roommates had seen the whole thing on the news but since there was no social media or even cable news it would be weeks before we knew the significance of that night. Steve Dahl and his partner Garry Meier went on to become two of the most famous and well paid radio personalities in Chicago, disco did indeed die a few years later and the music they called rock is now “classic rock”.

There’s nothing short of an earthquake that could get me to run out on a ball field these days. Disco Demolition falls under the category of dumbshit I did and lived to talk about.

 

GRASP 2015 Recap

So the first GRASP con is in the history books. Now that I’ve had a chance to recover from the drive and lack of sleep it’s time to take a look back at the weekend.

First of all, traffic on I-94 sucks. There’s construction all throughout Indiana that turns a relatively easy drive into a hard one. Our car is in need of work so I got a rental Chevy Impala. That baby had lots of trunk room, moves like a cat and rides like a couch floating down the highway.

My companion for the trip to Grand Rapids. Me likee!
My companion for the trip to Grand Rapids. Me likee!

After getting the “full breakfast” included with the room at the Best Western I was disappointed that the only thing worth eating was scrambled eggs that may or may not have been army surplus, brown & serve sausages and juice. Everything else was heavy carb heavy sugar including a self serve waffle iron. They didn’t even have bacon! Full breakfast my eye!

The C Rations breakfast at the Best Western.
The C Rations breakfast at the Best Western.

After breakfast I got to the venue with no delays and beat the 9am deadline when they start charging $5 for parking. The Deltaplex is the building equivalent of a nondescript white van. On the inside it looks like a bomb shelter. The Deltaplex is also the home of The Grand Rapids Drive, of the NBA’s D-League.

The Deltaplex exterior. Go Drive!
The Deltaplex exterior. Go Drive!

Saturday started slowly with my first customer attempting to buy a $3 button with a fifty. Come on lady, do I look like a currency exchange? It was cold as a meat locker and stupid me forgot to bring a sweater. Combine cold and a lack of business and by noon I’m struggling to stay awake. At one point I go to the parking lot just so I can warm my hands on the hood of the car. After my warmup I got a second wind and even did a sketch for one of my neighbors of his character for his book. Sunday was even more sparsely attended but I was prepared after seeing Saturday’s turnout.

The bottom line is this was the first year for this show and it takes a while for any comic show to get established.  I didn’t make a lot of sales but on the positive side I sold more comic books than ever before! The Ninja Bunny debut book was the best seller and garnered a lot of attention. I also got to talk to a lot of people that actually read small press comics and networked with some really cool creators. I would probably do this show again.

Would it kill you to print simple ID tags like these for your artists Wizard World?
Would it kill you to print simple ID tags like these for your artists Wizard World?

GRASP Con is this week

The first of three conventions I plan on doing this year is happening this Saturday & Sunday the 27-28th in Grand Rapids Michigan and it’s called GRASP Comic Expo. GRASP stands for Grand Rapids Alternative Small Press.

This is the Inaugural show for the organizers of this event but they have had success with their fall show the Grand Rapids Comic Con. Their booths were very affordable and since it is not a juried show they were kind enough to accept my money and rent me a booth without any approval process.

Since this is their first show I’m going in with no expectations. Whatever happens it’s all good and I’m just going to enjoy being a part of the show. I’ve had some good experiences with Michigan shows so far so hopefully the trend continues.