Pushing The Envelope: Letters From The Basement

When the temperature hits the 90s in Portland the most comfortable spot in my house is the basement. Last week was a scorcher, so I decided that  the moment had come for a major cleanup and reorganization down cellar. This involved sweeping away years of cobwebs, throwing away burned-out fireplace grates and towel racks ripped out during bathroom renovation, and finally unpacking the last boxes remaining from when Eve and I moved here in 1995. Inside one of them was a handful of old letters with decorated envelopes I sent to Eve over the years, which I’m adding to the batch my friend Geoff Seaman gave me after he moved last year. The top envelope is a portrait of the lovely Eve done before we were married; the four faces on the long narrow one belong to the vocal group The Bobs. I’ve also included a couple of envelopes sent to my grandmother, which my mother recently found in a box in dead storage.
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Stumptown 2010

Comic Art Battle at Cosmic Monkey
Comic Art Battle at Cosmic Monkey

The Stumptown Comics Fest is something of a yearly ritual for me, a chance to meet the reading public and reconnect with out-of-town friends I otherwise never see (Maryland cartoonist Carla Speed McNeil immediately noticed that I was walking without a cane; I had forgotten that last year I was still getting over a broken leg.).
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24 Hour Comics: I Like To Riff

l had a fine time at the 24 Hour Drawpocalypse last weekend at Cosmic Monkey, and managed to finish my 24 page comic in just 23 hours. (Then I discovered that I’d actually only drawn 23 pages because I had somehow skipped page 18, so I went back yesterday and drew a new page in an hour. Don’t tell Scott McCloud.) Here are some frames from my story, titled I Like To Riff:


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The Zone

Among my works, Welcome To The Zone is the redheaded stepchild, a book even people who say they are big fans haven’t read. Cursed in its timing, the book was acquired by Kitchen Sink right around the time it was taking over the list of a far larger comics publisher that was going out of business, and it got somewhat lost in the shuffle editorially as a result. By the time it appeared in 1995, Kitchen Sink itself was on its last legs, I was too preoccupied by my move from New York to Portland to do much in the way of promotion, and the book was quickly remaindered.
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Pushing The Envelope: Letters To Geoff

I haven’t sent anyone a letter in ages, but back in the pre-digital day l used to send and receive mail all the time. My friend Geoff Seaman is moving, and in an effort to lighten his footprint he just gave me a sack of correspondence I sent him during the years we lived in different cities, from the mid-70’s to the mid-90’s. I’m far too self-conscious to reread any of the old letters, but I am pleased by some of the decorated envelopes, and I’ve posted an album of them here.
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The World’s Greatest Sinner

I have known my friend Geoff for something like forty years. We met at school, were roommates in New York for a while and corresponded when we lived in different cities. Now he lives nearby and comes over every couple of weeks to show me movies. Geoff is a serious film buff whose tastes run to obscure noir and horror, and I believe he sees it as his mission to fill in the gaps in my education. The last film he brought over, The World’s Greatest Sinner, is  so obscure it never had a theatrical release, even though it stars and was written and directed by one of my favorite actors, Timothy Carey. A tall, memorably sinister John Turturro type, Carey  was usually cast as a  secondary thug in obscure crime pictures, but he had small parts in East Of Eden and The Wild One, and larger ones in a couple of classic Stanley Kubrick pictures, The Killing and Paths Of Glory (probably his best performance- one of Carey’s persistent mannerisms was grinding his teeth like a bad Kirk Douglas imitator, but in this one he lays off, possibly because Kirk himself is the star). His distinctive mug almost makes caricature redundant, but here goes:

Timothy Carey
Timothy Carey

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Logrolling In Our Time

The writer Bart King was nice enough to include a link to me on his site, so I naturally recommend his many fine books, including the most recent, The Pocket Guide To Mischief.

Those of you planning to welcome Trick-or-Treaters should check out Bart’s appearance on the local morning show AM Northwest. His suggestions can make the whole experience so much more evil. Click on the picture labeled “Halloween Pranks.”