Updates & miscellaneous musings!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

"Se creen muy guays, pero solo son unas putas estiradas!"

I'm at Nikki's house in Santa Cruz with her and Angelo [well, now I'm not...but I was when I started writing this]. We came (at least, I conceived the trip) because Daniel Clowes (cartoonist of Ghost World, David Boring, etc) was signing to promote his new graphic novel Ice Haven.

The trip by Greyhound was unnotable, which I suppose is what you want from a Grayhound trip. There were some high school-age skanks from Tennessee (!) who tried to annoy us, then called us gay when we didn't take the bait (which provoked a lot more laughter from us than it probably would've back where they come from). Fortunately, they got off in Paso (still on SLO county), so we didn't have to deal with them for long.

We got to Santa Cruz at 4 and went to Saturn Cafe, where we met Nikki. We went to Bookshop Santa Cruz where the signing was going to be, and I bought Ice Haven. Nikki asked me why I got it when I already had the comic book version (the new hardcover book only has a couple pages that weren't in an issue of his comic book I bought in 2001), and I couldn't really justify it, other than to say that it wasn't very nice to go to a signing at a bookstore without buying anything, which particularly sucked since it took the last of my money.

When we came back later for the actual signing, I saw something far more awesome than Ice Haven at the signing table--Mundo Fantasmal--Ghost World in Spanish! It turned out to cost $5 less than Ice Haven, so I exchanged them and pocketed the difference.

Some nearby dude asked me which Clowes book he should buy. I told him to get Caricature, the short story collection, and he did. I talked to him for awhile about how he used to do art for Atari, and how he wanted to do a comic or something even though he didn't know much about them. I gave him my website, and he said we should collaborate. Obviously that's not going to happen, but I enjoyed talking to him.

The crowd was pretty interesting. There was an old men wad, a gutter punk wad, and an indie girl wad. Not sure where we fit into all that.

[My description of this even is kind of me-centric, becuase I assume if you're reading this you care about me. If I were writing this for, like, a newspaper, I assure you it'd be a lot less self-obsessed]

The girl who worked at the bookstore said that Daniel Clowes wasn't going to give a talk or anything, but that he would answer some questions. Then he came out. He looked older than I expected--He's the same age as my mom, and looks a good five years older.*

Daniel Clowes (left) and someone else on Google

After a few seconds of dead time, he was ready to assume no one had any questions and move on. Figuring that others (like me) just didn't want to be the first, I raised my hand. I asked, rather generically, what he's working on now. He said he'd just started a new comic, but declined to give specifics. Later I asked him why they'd added Steve Buscemi's character to the Ghost World movie (he isn't in the comic). He said it was to make it more interesting for him to write and, "because otherwise it'd be a 45 minute movie."

The guy I'd been talking to earlier asked him if it was harder to make striking imagery in comics than in movies. Clowes said striking imagery isn't the point, it's how well the imagery draws the reader into the world of the story.
Nikki asked how much he plans before doing comics, since it's often hard to figure out what you're doing. He said he starts with a vague structure but gives himself lots of room to improvise and expand. He likened this to improv in Jazz, then said he hated it when people compared things to Jazz, but that he was going to do it anyway.

Someone asked if Clowes used a tablet. He said he does it all by hand, except colors. This prompted someone to ask if he does inks digitally. He reiterated that he does it all by hand except for colors.

Finally, failing to get Angelo or Nikki to ask it for me, I asked the ultimate question. Clowes jokingly accused me of being a plant put by the store. I smiled, then popped it--
"How do you feel about being compared to JD Salinger?"

...Nikki seemed to think I'd be dissapointed when he didn't proclaim that he hated JD too and we should be the best of friends, what he did say made me happy. That the comparison is utterly superficial, based on the the fact that they both write about introspective teenagers. He said that he did admire the fact that Salinger (allegedly) wrote a bunch more novels and kept them secret, but that is a pretty neat idea, in an arrogant prick sort of way.

Shortly thereafter the Q&A was finished and it was time for the signing. I overheard him tell a girl that he'd never been to Santa Cruz before, which is kind of surprising considering he lives in Berekely. He was a lot more open and engaging one-on-one than in front of everybody, and he seemed more comfortable. He blacked out the teeth on the girl on the coverpage of her "David Boring".

When he got to me, he saw my book and asked, "You can read Portugese?" I told him it was Spanish, and he said that he'd met the translator, who was a goofy old guy who'd "never seen a teenage girl in his life," so the translation was pretty horrible.*

As he diligently wrote my name and then his in my two books (I'd brought along Caricature), I tried thinking of something else to say to him. If I was talking to anyone else, I'd have no trouble saying that I think Dan Clowes is one of the greatest cartoonists (or whatever you want to call them) ever to live, but you (well, I) can't comfortably say that to a person's face.
So I told him that I'd read David Boring when I was 13 (I think I meant 14) and fell in love with it. He laughed and said, "I'm surprised no one called the authorities." I said I'd like to make comics too. He seemed to approve, but warned me, "Just don't expect it to be a career," referring to his earlier explanation that cartoonists don't make any damn money.

All in all, a very nice experience. If you meet someone who's work you like a lot and don't get along well with them, it's kind of a weird feeling, because every time after that when you look at their work, you're reminded of it. But he seemed genuinely cool, and I really liked talking to him. That shouldn't be important, I guess, but it made me happy.

Atari guy has yet to email me. Whatever.

That night we rented Boogie Nights, which I thought was thoroughly entertaining...for the first hour and a half. The next three hours were a bit tiresome, and by the end, I didn't care enough to be looking at the screen when Marky Mark whipped out his prosthetic wang. I don't really see how the movie was supposed to work. It's too absurd to be taken as something that could really happen (ie, the shootout where everyone dies except the person who matters, and Heather Graham's perpetual roller-skate wearing***) and too dismal to just be entertaining. The result is by no means the worst movie ever made (or even the worst starring Marky Mark), but I definitely think it's grossly overrated.

The next day we lazed about. Nikki made pancakes, and we sat around watching Star Trek and MacGyver. Man, MacGyver's cool.
Then we went up to campus and went on a short walk/hike through the forest, in which I studiously avoided all logs. Nikki climbed a tree then got scared.

That night we watched a Mystery Science Theater that Nikki had on tape. My favorite part was where a dude screamed, "NOW!" and one of the robots said, "...is the winter of our discontent!" but I can't explain why that tickled me so.

The next day, after some more Star Trek, we took the Greyhound back. Nikki decided to come with us. I finished Mundo Fantasmal on the way and suddenly thought I was really good at speaking Spanish, but on a bus filled with Mexicans (having stopped in Salinas), I was quickly reminded that I am not. A little girl was trying to put her bag in the overhead compartment. I meant to say, "Necesita ayuda?" ("Need help?") but accidently said, "Necesita arriba," which doesn't mean anything but she interpreted as ("That needs to be up"), so she thought I was giving her shit about not having her bag up already.
Wah wah.

When we got to SLO I found I had a phone call from Jessy, who wanted to watch Reign of Fire, I guess because it has Christian Bale being badass. Nikki, Jessy and I abandoned Angelo and John at a gas station for awhile and drove around looking at the moon. What losers.

Today (Thursday), it was back to work at B&N, which was pretty cool. I cashiered for the first time, and it was much easier than I expected. I helped an old guy find a collection of short stories on CD and somehow ended up telling him that I was a film major and drew comics. He asked if I'd like to do some editing and/or storyboards for him, he assured me for money. I took his card.
Why do I have such a way with older men?

*He also looks about fifteen years older than Neil Gaiman, who is one year older than him. Funny how people age differently.

**In the real one:
Enid: Since when have you worked here?
John Ellis: Since always last Thursday!

In the translation (translated back, obviously):
Enid: Since when have you worked here?
John Ellis: Always, on Thursdays!

***Why is Heather Graham a slut in every movie she's ever in? She's not a bad actress, you'd think she could maybe do something else sometime.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A story in pictures

FRANK: Let's go for a hike!

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FRANK: Hiking sure is fun!
KANE AND KAILEY: So much fun!
FRANK: Look! A log suspended over the water! It is the only way to get to the other side!

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FRANK: See? It is easy!
KANE: I see!
FRANK: Kane, your turn! I can only assume your extra 60 pounds of weight will have no effect on the safety of the situation!
KANE: I see!

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KANE: This is precarious, but exciting!
KAILEY: Oh no!


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FRANK: I will drag his carcass from the water!
KAILEY: Kane, are you ok???

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FRANK: So, what should I do?
FRANK: I'll go get paramedics!
KAILEY: Kane! Say something! Talk to me! Tell me about...The Da Vinci Code!
KANE: It's really bad! Not unlike the pain in my leg! GHUUUNNN!

20 minutes later
KAILEY: They sent you a helicopter!
KANE: ...why?

One Hour Later
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EMT: I am really badass and awesome.
KANE: Um, yes.
EMT: You should go to the hospital.
KANE: Yes.
EMT: This is all her [Kailey's] fault, isn't it?
KANE: No, it's all Frank's. Fuck Frank.
FRANK: Lo siento.
KANE: Claro.

NURSE: Welcome to the hospital. Those firefighters dragged you through poison oak, so now we have to swab off all your exposed body.
KANE: Ghuunn.
NURSE: Now we have to go do things for an hour! But don't worry, there's nothing to read or do!
KANE: Ghunnn.

One Hour Later
X-ray lady: Hello, I am here to irradiate your leg/groin.
KANE: Ghunnn.

One Hour Later
Doctor: Dog my cats, but your bone's as unbroken as can be!
Kane: Oh, good.
Doctor: ...Except that it has a cyst in it for some reason?
Kane: Is that because of this?
Doctor: It's just one of those weird little things about how God made us.
Kane: Oh, alright.
Doctor: But get it checked up if you don't want it to fracture.
Kane: Ghunnn.

Two hours later
Nurse: Here's some clothes.
Kane: Why does this shirt say "Temporary Organ Donor: I've got an organ you can borrow all night long"?
Male Nurse: Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah.

One hour later
Male Nurse: Have some crutches.
Kane: Okay.
Nurse: So, do you have a ride home?
Kane: No.
Nurse: What about now?
Kane: No.
Nurse: What about now?
Kane: No.
Nurse: Fine, we'll call you a taxi.

One hour later
Nurse: Here's some tylenol and vicadin! Have fun.
Kane: Ghunnn.


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Location: Oakland, CA, United States