Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dead Artists Society

More often than not, the best part of my morning is that first steaming coffee, unless my pal Tommy Roberts joins me for bagels with cream cheese at Super-Duper Bagels in Livingston, New Jersey. There’s a little gal scurrying behind the counter there that we call Camel Toe. When you hit your mid-40s, these small things become much bigger.

My friend Marie Severin is enjoying the small things, too. When last seen in this correspondent’s musings, Marie was eating her breakfast off a Styrofoam tray, slurring her words and, unbeknownst to her, on the serious watch list at the hospital she was stuck at.

Good news: Today, Sev has moved on to an assisted living facility out on Long Island. It’s been a solid, steady recovery. Her spirits are high (but weren’t they always?) and she acts like nothing much has happened. And nothing much has. Except for retirement. Marie isn’t drawing anymore. Isn’t taking coloring assignments either. Time has finally caught up with the First Lady of Comics and she’s spending her twilight years relaxing and doing fun stuff. Whatever fun stuff means. I know she still likes to watch “Jeopardy.” So don’t try and track her down to ask for a cover recreation. Leave her alone.

I mention this because I get letters asking me where Marie is and if she’s willing to “just do a small drawing.” I’m asked this by virtue of just knowing Marie—people find my name by-lined on an article and think I have nothing better to do than get them free art. I used to get those letters about Dave Cockrum and Don Heck. Right in the shit can they went.

Today, people are trying to buy up Dave Cockrum’s art—especially his covers. And they still come to me. Hardly anyone was interested in Dave when he was alive, but now that he’s a footnote on pop history he’s an investment. It’s more than a little ghoulish, akin to Forrey Ackerman writing to Bob Bloch on his deathbed and asking Bob to sign “my last autograph ever before I died.” Too bad being a classless slob doesn’t hurt.

Here’s the advice part of my column: If you want art from an artist, start with, “I’m a big fan and I’d like a drawing of this particular character. Please name your price.” Then pay it. Don’t ask for freebies. And don’t negotiate. That’s an insult—especially to an old-timer who is STILL MAKING A LIVING drawing these little Ebay-destined doodles. Try negotiating with your urologist instead next time you’re pissing blood, chum.

Frankly, if I get one more letter asking for a freebie from Marie, I think I’ll blow an eyeball. I just might track the idiot down and throw them the beating their father neglected to impart.

And believe me, if I find out they’re bothering Marie at her retirement facility and trying to chisel her out of her happy hour, I’ll do something particularly vicious and mean-spirited to them, and they’ll never be able to prove who did it.

And then I’ll report it back to the rest of you so it won’t be a total loss.


Elayne said...

Cliff, is there some address where people can send well wishes?


Yes. But you'll have to get it from me personally--I won't post it here for fanboys.

mike weber/fairportfan said...

Since i've never met the lady (though i've loved her work for sopmething like thirty-five or forty years) io wouldn't want to bothe rher personally... But pass on my good wishes and hopes for a long and happy retirement... (mike weber/fairportfan)

Alex Jay said...

Just tell her that I (and very likely, many many more) say "Thank you".
For both her years of exemplary work, AND for her happy recovery and retirement.

Michael Netzer said...

Also send my best wishes to Marie, Cliff.

And how is it that you sojourned the Middle east in the search of Shawarma and didn't let me know? I have a line on the meanest Shawarmas in the region.


Elayne, Danny F. (who emailed me offline), Michael and Alex Jay:

Good to hear from you all. Please know that I'm not trying to keep Marie to myself-- my "column" (which appears here first) is actually an installment of METH ADDICT for, which goes up tomorrow. The effort is to disuade fanboys and fangals from bothering dear Marie while she convalesces--perhaps for the rest of her days. But I will certainly pass along well wishes and give her contact info to old friends of hers.

delawarejoel said...

You are absolutly right to be protective and thank God you are. Anybody who would ask for soemthing like artwork or an autograph or a lock of hair or whatever at a time like this is NOT a fan of the artist, they are a leech and a ghoul. Best wishes to Ms. Severin and to you as well.

Joel Kelly

Robert Frazier said...

I hope I speak for a lot of other fanboys just like me when I say that I don't want a single thing from Marie, only to tell her: "I have loved your work for decades, and wish you nothing but the best. Nobody ever drew the Hulk or the Silver Surfer better than you did! I hope you have many happy years left. God bless you, and thanks for the happiness you brought to me over the years."

I you could pass that along to her, I'd be grateful.