"The Question is: If Socialism is so bad a system, why do our elected representatives insist on it for themselves! What they have in benfits [sic] and perks can only be compared to Cradle to Grave Socialism found in Scandanavia! [sic] In fact just recently they got their Funeral and Burial allowence [sic] increased to $15,000 and even the convicted ones now in prison get their FULL PENSION and MEDICAL! Hey! Why don't we all send this question to our Senators and Congress people? See what kind if any answer you get!"
Monday, December 31, 2007
At Paty's behest, I am overseeing the sale of Dave's personal comics collection for the estate--from his boyhood copies of Blackhawk through his own file copies of X-Men. Thumbing through this extraordinary collection, I recall buying Giant-Size X-Men #1 on the newstand, then meeting Dave at the first MarvelCon in NY City shortly afterwards. Never did I dream that we'd one day work together... Or that I'd ever be in this strange position.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Clifford's stories have often been dark and mean and nasty and this is no exception. [Snaked] hints at, in no particular order, violence, politics, mayhem, cannibalism, September 11, the Bush Administration, the Clinton legacy, and prison rape. Rufus Dayglo's art reminds one of collages compiled from lunatics' sketches with crayons drawn on newspaper clippings of murder and corruption trials... Snaked is a brutal piece of work. But if you're looking to dispense with plastered on holiday smiles, this book is the comics equivalent of listening to speed metal to get Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer out of your head. And that's a good thing.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
You did the right thing. Glad to hear that your son eliminated the bully problem. I put both of my sons in martial arts when they turned six, and kept them there for over ten years... I told them that if they ever started a fight in school they would be in trouble, but if someone bullied them they had permission to knock that person's block off. --Owl
Thanks Cliff, and the Happiest of New Years to you and your family from Mr. Good Looking and his family! (Eat your heart out, Brad Pitt!)
Stan (Humble as ever)
Friday, December 28, 2007
Other signings are scheduled for Midtown Comics in Manhatten and Fortress of Solitude in Newark, NJ. The holidays--and Diamond's delayed shipping this week--has everyone in a tizzy.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
“It’s the boy’s actual birthday in a few weeks,” he said. “He really should get an aliyah on that day. And you should make a kiddush.”
The problem, I explained, is I'm exiled to a community without a real shul. There was once a small, sincere congregation here but the Herson Syndicate cleverly subsumed it with their Chabad Center of Northwest New Jersey, a "non-profit" organization that allows yet another Herson to drive around in donated cars while the congregation pays not only his salary but also his mortgage (and if that ain’t profiting, what is? But I digress…)
Herson's three-ring circus is the bizarro world's version of an orthodox service; people with a modicum of respect for traditional shul decorum find it impossible to concentrate whilst surrounded by the rag-tag gaggle that follows Herson around, some of which neglect to turn off their cell phones after stepping out of their cars each Shabbos morning. The mock services were endlessly bookended by the dissembling, patronizing rabbi and baying interruptions of his benefactor Morty Kwestel, a buffoon replete with fat wallet and shiksa wife (who sat sweetly behind the two-foot mechitsa asking, "what page are we on?") I always left feeling like I’d just emerged from the Division of Motor Vehicles, drained and spiritually bereft. Couldn't wait to get the smell of the place off my clothes.
Fortunately, Herson offered up the last straw by firing (and subsequently defaming) the only genuinely decent man officially associated with his family business. Rabbi Boruch Cohen had come aboard at a pittance of a salary for the express purpose of teaching Torah and building a community. Sadly, after seven successful years, Rabbi Cohen voiced his occasional dismay at still being asked to take out the Hersons' garbage and was promptly replaced by a younger man willing to accept 60% of the under-rabbi’s pittance (AND to take out the garbage). Cost me--along with several other men of good conscience--nearly a year to coerce the notoriously corrupt Crown Heights Bais Din into extracting Cohen’s seven months of overdo severance pay from the powerful Herson Cartel. I promised to write about it if they didn't. I'm writing about it anyway.
So Herson's Chamor Center was out. And, frankly, I wasn’t thrilled about bringing my son into the wilds of Crown Heights either, where the lunacy at ground zero is often fever pitched (see above photo -- your tzedukah dollars at work). But I figured, well, hmm, who knows… Perhaps if I drag along a few pals... Abe had promised to bring the whiskey.
This morning my mother-in-law phoned to offer nine minutes and 20 seconds of testimony to her aches and pains and dizziness and tsuris in evidence of why she can’t host us next weekend. I was annoyed because the 20 seconds would have been sufficient. Methinks the lady doth bakloog zikh too much.
But no matter how you slice it, I’m off the hook.
Lane Jensen, a Canadian, just had a boob job. On his shin. Dissatisfied with the seeming authenticity of the lady on his leg, Jensen went whole hog and had heavy ink meister Brian Decker, owner of Pure Body Arts in Alberta, carry out the bizarre silicon surgery.
Jensen is the editor of a body art and tattoo magazine, so there’s some self-promotion value, I suppose. And this is America, and that is Canada, so we have little choice but to chalk this up to the pursuit of happiness. Or the pursuit of puke art.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Gahl, one of Midtown’s owners (pictured here), is an old pal and I was delighted to talk comics with him while signing stacks of SNAKED #1 (which debuts this Friday) for his stores. These copies are available at any of the Midtown Comics locations or at their online shop by clicking HERE.
I like J.R. Liked him from the moment we met. He’s a big, bad, ripped, soft-spoken Lodi hardass who can talk passionately about music, martial arts, body-building and literature without raising his voice. What’s not to like?
“Those boomer bastards always thought they owned pop culture,” he continues. “Just because there were so many fewer of us who were born in the ‘60’s, they think we have to swallow their waste. Well, I was one of the first in the 'kill hippies campaign.' We were right. The world became harsher. As humans multiply, life gets cheaper. Those pathetic hippies were blind, yet continue to proselytize. As I used to say onstage, or on the radio, or on the street, 'shut up and cut your hair.' Those pussies probably wouldn't have liked your dark work, either. I am even more inspired now.”
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
It’s funny how the mind works. I judge everything by film. It’s the way I draw and the way I think. Sometimes there’s something more realistic about film than real life, as strange as that might sound, especially when it’s done right. Perhaps it’s because I was traumatized in 1931 when I saw “Frankenstein.” I was five. My father took me to see it in the Bronx. I remember the theater up on a big hill. I was never the same after that.
It was my love of film that first drew me into Clifford Meth’s stories. I’d been hired to illustrate “Deprogramming Esther,” an alarming tale about the death of a Hassidic child, as well as “A Day in the Death of Martin Peel,” which examined the psychological events leading to a man’s suicide. These stories had one thing in common: Reading them was like seeing a film. Cliff painted with words the way I painted with pictures. Of course, that made them a pleasure to illustrate.
Years later, I wrote, “What separates Clifford Meth from most writers is his courage to take on sensitive issues. I’d read anything he’s ever written.” Oh boy—I should be more careful with my promises! Because when I saw a preview of Cliff’s latest piece, Snaked #1 from IDW Publishing, I’ll admit I was shocked. Sexual violence is at the top of my list for things I don’t want to see—it was something we never did in comics when I was getting started in the business. But times have changed and subjects that were taboo a generation ago are acceptable today.
Snaked is strong writing, very strong. But I’ve come to always expect that from Cliff. A decade ago, I illustrated a series of his stories for the book Perverts, Pedophiles & Other Theologians—powerful stories, all, but not quite as powerful as Snaked. I had to look away several times. I really did! Even when Cliff is teasing, using that acid wit of his, the story is dead serious.
Monday, December 24, 2007
“Man, I wish my dad had told me to stand up to the bullies I dealt with when I was in short pants, instead being raised Suthun Baptist… All I heard was, "Turn the other cheek." My retort was always, "But they'll hit that one, too!"
I asked Matt if he was doing any X-Men work—assumed he might because he’d contributed the gorgeous full-color team rendering for the back cover of The Uncanny Dave Cockrum Tribute, which I edited last year. “Are you kidding?” Matt replied. “Marvel doesn't pay art re-use fees, so I see no reason to enrich them. I drew that Defenders (THE ORDER) mini a while back, [and] they started making puzzles and posters and beach blankets out of the art, and I didn't see a dime. At least DC pays me when they reuse my stuff.”
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Cliff, Happy Herbie still has unsettled business with a couple of people he knew in junior high school. Problem was, I took it and never let on or discussed it. I'd kill these fuckers (if they ain't already dead)if I got my hands on them today. You and you kid's story is my unrealized fantasy. Maybe in the next life. -Herb
Marv Wolfman, Adrienne Colan (Gene's better half), and Paty Cockrum also weighed in...
Great story, Clifford. Hey, get your kid Bioshock for the 360. Great SF game. -Marv
What a great great story. I've never read one sentence of yours that didn't sweep me away. Exquisite writing. And in my next life, I'd like to be your daughter. What a gift you gave your son (and I'm not referring to the Xbox!)... -Adrienne
You tell Jesse, MAZEL TOV from me! I used my horse to teach a bully a sharp lesson when I was in high school. He straightened up and made a success of his life... and he still crosses the street to walk on the other side when he sees me coming down it. Fear is the prime motivator...and a preemptive strike sometimes teaches an important lesson even to stupid bullies. If you let people use you as a doormat, they will continue to do so until you rise up and bite them in the ass. better to teach them a lesson early and save yourself grief. Works for me! You're a MENSCH , Jesse! -Paty
And then there was this poem from SNAKED artist extraordinaire Rufus Dayglo:
A kick in the tonkers
A flurry of fists
A wall-eating arm-bar
A nice Glasgow Kiss
Friday, December 21, 2007
“In an upcoming Papercutz Hardy Boys graphic novel (#12 "Dude Ranch O' Death"), Frank Hardy has to deal with series' bully, and makes short work of him,” writes Salicrup, cleverly sneaking in a plug for his company’s book. “It's a scene with great impact, not unlike the tale of your son's recent battle. In my official capacity as Supreme Marvel Zombie Emeritus, I take this opportunity to bestow upon you a special Kosher No-Prize for being a responsible father in a world gone mad!”
Clifford Meth was visibly moved by the award. “All my life,” the author noted, wiping back a two-karat tear, “I have wondered what it would take to gain entry into the prestigious club of No-Prize Recipients. I never truly imagined that this day would come… I dedicate this award to anyone with a pair of beitzim willing to raise their middle digit to impotent school administrations in the only proper salute.”
Ya done good.
I was bullied terribly throughout my school years. For all the successes I have known, all the adventures I have had, all the great people I have met, the most satisfying, self-affirming moments I have ever experienced have been when I dealt with bullies the way they needed to be dealt with.
True story: when in junior high school I was traveling from class to class holding a cassette recorder by its handle. This was before the age of Walkmen: it was a fairly hefty object. I was holding books under my other arm. I got stopped in the hallway by a guy who thought it was funny to bar my way, and to reach through my shirt to give me painful nipple-twists with both hands. As I reacted with pain, he laughed out loud. I turned that handheld tape recorder into a bludgeon and smashed it across his face, drawing blood from his lips. He stepped back, stunned. Observers went ooooh. He reached up, felt the blood, and managed an appalled, "Wh-what did you do that for?"
I said, "Be grateful I didn't do it twice."
Asshole never bothered me again.
No teachers were watching. But I would have taken a suspension for that privilege.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Heartiest congrats on your new baby girl. But I hadda tell you I really ENJOYED your story about your son and the bully. Good for you-- and him-- and, of course, Harlan the buttinski! Wishing the entire Meth menage the Happiest Hanukkah and the Niftiest New Year!
Religiously speaking, JKHA is a Conservadox enclave (though they market themselves as "Orthodox") located kitty-corner to the prestigious Newark Academy in Livingston, NJ. Two of my sons had already graduated from JKHA, so I knew pretty much what I was getting myself into: an amalgam of mild-tempered, black-hat teachers who are serious about limudei kodesh (religious studies) filtering their right-wing Judaism through the prism of JKHA's "we're only in it for the money" bottom-line mandate and catering to a constituency of upper-middle-class moderdox kids from West Orange, as well as a swarm of moneyed brats from Livingston's uppercrust--children raised by nannies who boast of bringing trefos to school. Better this than public school where the drug problems are even greater than when I attended schools in a nearby district. Better this than the random violence my relatively quiet and gentle boy would be subjected to by the unwashed masses.
Or so I thought.
Beginning in September, my son began returning home a little more despondent each day. "What's wrong?" I'd ask. "The work too difficult?" That was certainly easy to imagine: A dual curriculum is challenging enough for a boy that finds school easy, let alone one who struggles. "No," he'd say, eyes downcast. "Is it a teacher?" I asked. "Was someone nasty to you?" He'd just shake his head. Weeks of this. Months. I chalked it up to his being the new kid. He was just feeling overwhelmed.
Or so I thought.
My boy's mother caught the first glimmer of what was really happening. Like me, she'd been fishing for months, even going as far as calling the school. One evening, while she studied with him, he admitted that he'd become the target of the class bully. Imagine my chagrin as the information reached me. I ascertained that the incidents--which began with one boy but had now spread to this boy's associates--had been confined to verbal abuse. Not that this hurt any less, but verbal is, after all, just verbal. You're too stupid to be in this class... Why are you here? No one likes you... You don't have any friends.
It wasn't entirely true. My son did have friends--two of the newer boys befriended him on day one. But as the charismatic bully's reign spread, these other little boys had been coerced away. "They're on his side now," he told me. "And who is on your side?" I asked. "Just me," said my boy.
I called the school and spoke with the rabbi in charge of discipline. I warned him that he was sitting on a time bomb--that it was just a matter of time before things escalated. "Fear not," he assured me. "I've already spoken to the boys." "I have no fear, rabbi," I said, "but not because you've spoken to the boys." "Please," he said, "don't worry about anything. Everything is under control."
Or so he thought.
A week ago, push came to shove. The verbal taunts devolved into physical abuse. A trip here, a shove into a locker there. When I discovered the escalation, I gave my son a facts-of-life sitdown. "This won't end," I told him, "unless you end it." "How?" he asked. "You have to take out their leader." He looked down. "Are you afraid of him?" I asked. "No," he said. "Then what are you afraid of?" He thought about it. "I'll get suspended," he said. "And everyone will hate me." "They already hate you," I said. "They hate you because they think you're weak." "I'm not weak," he said. "I'm stronger than he is." "But you've let him turn you into his entertainment. That makes you weak in everyone else's eyes. Once they see a wounded animal, the sharks begin to circle. Even littler kids will start taunting you." "That's already happening," he said. "Take out their leader," I said.
That afternoon, my cellphone buzzed. My boy had sent me an instant message. "Done," it said.
I jumped in my car and drove to the school. Without announcing myself, I walked straight into the principal's office. There was the principal, the school shrink, and the rabbi I'd spoken with a month earlier. I looked at my son. "Not a mark on you," I said, looking him up and down. "Guess you won."
"Mr. Meth," said the principal, "do you have any idea what just happened here?"
"I'll take an educated guess," I said. "There's either another boy in the nurse's office or he's on his way to the hospital." No one smugs like a father scorned.
"This is a very serious issue," said the principal.
"I couldn't agree more," I said. "Your administration is guilty of gross negligence. That's about as serious as it gets." I wasn't posturing--my pal Leo Klein of the New York Bar Association had secured a solid criminal lawyer for me out of Morristown, a former county prosecutor who saw so much merit in my son's story that he was willing to take the case for a piece of the action. I was ready to hit the yeshiva in the belly with a serious complaint if they pushed me too far.
"We can't condone fighting, Mr. Meth," said the rabbi--the one I'd put on notice four weeks earlier. "We're going to have to suspend your son for a day."
"That's what I was hoping," I said. "It will give him time to play with his new X-Box--the one I'm buying for him as a reward for taking out your bully. I'm not going to let my son feel punished for even one moment."
"We need to understand why he did this," said the shrink, a pretty little gal that I wouldn't have minded knowing under other circumstances.
"Look no further," I said, suppressing a wink. "I am the reason. I and no angel. I and no seraph. It was I who struck down the bully."
"We thoroughly abhor violence," said the principal, a middle-aged woman with delusions of eloquence.
"You're actually speaking to someone who knows what that word means," I said.
"But Jews can't behave like this," said the rabbi.
"Thus spake six million lampshades," saith I.
It went on like this for a while as I waxed alternately literate or badass for the tri-lateral commission of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil. A Mexican standoff. Or more accurately a Jewish one. Eventually, I grew bored with their company and took my son home, assured--by his actions that morning, not this administration's nattering, hand-wringing, politically correct, cover-their-own-asses, COMPLETE fucking lack of understanding of schoolyard politics--assured that the world was balanced once more. My son had cut the leader from the herd and knocked the bejezus out of him in front of his accolytes. Problem solved.
That evening, as my son sat playing with his new X-Box, my phone rang. "I know you, Meth!" said Harlan Ellison, the greatest writer of the 20th century, third greatest pool hustler in Sherman Oaks, and my pal. "You're sitting there wallowing in that Russian Jewish guilt of yours." "I'm a Polish Jew," I assured him. "Listen to me," he said. "You done good. This will always be remembered by your son as a pivotal moment in his childhood. He'll be proud of himself. And he'll be proud of you. He stood up to the bully and his old man had the balls to back him. Now stop feeling sorry for yourself or I'll have to come over and slap you and I don't want to do that because I'm already dressed for bed! Your son is golden and you my friend are peaches!"
Two days later, my boy returned to school. It was a fast day so he got out early and called me right away. "How was it?" I asked. "I had a good day," he said. "A few kids that I never spoke with before told me I did a good job. And two of the kids who used to bother me want to be my friend now. And the other two are really scared of me. And one girl who never spoke to me before said, 'Good job.' And I'm going to the mall with Mommy to get a new game for my X-Box. Can David sleep over this Saturday night so we can play it?"
Will Rogers once noted that diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock. I say school bullying policies are only as good as your power to enforce them.
© 2007, Clifford Meth
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Book I’ve Written
god’s 15 minutes (Aardwolf Publishing): paperback edition
Stories by Clifford Meth, Afterwords by Harlan Ellison and Robert Bloch, cover by Michael Kaluta. $14.95; hardcover edition $24.95
METHo.d. (Aardwolf Publishing) - cover by JIM STERANKO - $10.95
Conflicts of Disinterest (Aardwolf Publishing) - $10.95
Conflicts of Disinterest (Aardwolf Publishing) Ltd. Bookplate Edition -- same as above but signed by Clifford Meth and Peppi Marchello - $15.95
Perverts, Pedophiles & Other Theologians (Aardwolf Publishing) – stories by Meth, art by Gene Colan (this book was Barnes & Noble’s “Horror Pick of the Week” for two weeks) - $9.95
Crib Death: The Baby-sitter’s Companion (Aardwolf Publishing) - $7.95
Crawling From the Wreckage (Aardwolf Publishing) - $9.95
The White Man Dancing (Aardwolf Publishing) – Ltd. Bookplate Edition – signed by Al Feldstein, Mike Ploog, Joe Sinnott, Herb Trimpe, Marie Severin, Dave Cockrum, Paty Cockrum and Clifford Meth) - $30.00
This Bastard Planet (Aardwolf Publishing) - Cover by Joe Linsner - $9.95
Books I’ve Edited
Balm in Gilead (Mahrwood Press) - Stories by Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, William Tenn, Jack Dann, Owl Goingback, Marv Wolfman, and Clifford Meth; art by Jeffrey Jones, Neal Adams, Joe Kubert; cover by Michael Kaluta. Hardcover. $24
Balm in Gilead (Mahrwood Press) - LETTERED Hardcover Edition (same as above but signed/lettered by Joe Kubert and Clifford Meth) Only 26 exist - $55
Strange Kaddish (Aardwolf Publishing) – stories by Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, others; art by Dave Cockrum, Paty Cockrum, others; cover by Gray Morrow - $10
Strange Kaddish Ltd. Bookplate Edition - same as above - signed by Harlan Ellison, Dave Cockrum, Paty Cockrum, Gray Morrow and Clifford Meth (only 100 made) $30
Stranger Kaddish (Aardwolf Publishing) – more stories by Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Peter David, others; cover by Dave Cockrum - $12
BAMF! The Dave Cockrum Treasury (Aardwolf Publishing) signed by Dave Cockrum - $30
Heroes & Villains: The William-Messner Loebs Benefit Sketchbook (2005, TwoMorrows Publishing) - Edited by Clifford Meth & Neal Adams - $25
The Gene Colan Treasury (1995, Aardwolf Publishing) - $20
The Whirlwind Club – stories and art by Dave Cockrum - $10
S.C.A.N.S. Magazine (Oct. 1997) – contains my story “Inside Yasmeen” (illustrated by Dave Cockrum) - $4.50
One To Go (comicbook with Clifford Meth and Mike Pascale) - $1.50