Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gene Colan: Hope Springs

Had an emotional visit with Gene tonight at his hospice. He'd been out for his fresh air already today so he was exhausted and remained in bed for the few hours that I stayed. We spoke of many things: life and death, death and life, career, family, friends, G-d...

"If I could change anything, I'd have put my whole soul into saving Adrienne. I would have moved mountains to save her. That's the only thing I would do different... The best moment of my life was meeting Adrienne in Tanament, Pennsylvania. She was so beautiful--I couldn't believe it. That was my best moment. She was a knockout...

"My career? The process of improvement is slow, but I knew that I had something to offer. And Stan [Lee] knew it, too. He gave me a great opportunity. He's a first-class businessman. And he saw things in me that I didn't see. He would never come out and tell you that but he showed it in a lot of different ways...

"I'm not beyond fear. I'm fearful about death. Everything that you ever wanted to do just goes up in smoke. The idea of being put in the ground or put under the ground is frightening. Most people don't want to talk about it... But I've decided to change my way of thinking. What they're telling me is not acceptible to me. I've got a tumor and it's cancer. And that's it. But I'm thinking that whatever you are thinking can come true. If it's not a selfish thought. I lean heavily on G-d now. I wasn't always like this. There isn't anything I have to be afraid of. Love is the answer. And the way to get there is by trying to find good in someone you don't necessarily like. Prayer can't be selfish. You don't pray for a yacht or money--you work hard if you want those things. But if you pray for unselfish things...

"And if you're looking for an answer, just ask. You'll get the answer if the question is worthy of an answer."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Michael Netzer: The Dark Knight

Michael Netzer is such a special man that I sometimes forget he's an outstanding illustrator, too. The mood of Michael's art is never the same, and it's always right on target. Look at these recent commissioned pieces and ask yourself why you don't have something of Michael's hanging in your home.

Dave Cockrum Speaks from Beyond

As usual, Tom Spurgeon offers the most compelling round-up of bio and analysis at his site The Comics Reporter following the death of the extraordinary Jeffrey Jones. I have little to add other than I remain very sad about Jeff's passing. We were working on a book together for better than four years now called Silent Light (Jeff chose the title), which I now feel obliged to finish more quickly. I also suppose we'll find some worthy cause to benefit from this book's publication because now it will disturb me to make any money from this project in Jeff's absence. Jeff already created and signed several hundred tip-in sheets for it; Michael Netzer, our mutual friend, offered more than a year ago to write the introduction.

Yes, I'm avoiding the pronouns. It's not a judgemental thing at all. Gender reassignment notwithstanding, Jeffrey Catherine Jones always signed letters and emails to me simply "Jeffrey"--and on the phone continued to say, "Hello Clifford. It's Jeffrey." I knew the artist and writer (Jeff wrote beautifully) and had no regard, one way or the other, for anything beyond that. His/her personal life was just that.

Then out of nowhere, I was pointed to a 1995 audio interview with Dave Cockrum and myself conducted at Icon-IVX in Long Island regarding Dave's Futurians and the beginnings of Aardwolf Publishing. This was a nice memory. Click the link--it's worth a few minutes to hear Dave's sweet voice again. Thank you Howard Margolin, who hosts DESTINIES - THE VOICE OF SCIENCE FICTION. His show airs on Fridays at 11:30 PM on WUSB, 90.1 FM, the radio station of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Hundreds of writers, artists, editors, actors, producers, directors, and musicians have appeared on the program since its debut in April, 1983.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jeffrey Catherine Jones

I was deeply saddened to learn that my friend, the artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones, passed away today. To make matters worse, I have no clue about the matters surrounding Jeff's death. We have corresponded for years and spoken on the phone many times; I was aware of certain depression and alcohol-related issues, but of nothing that was life-threatening. We spoke mostly of art and literature, not of personal matters. I have one of Jeff's original water colors hanging in my kitchen, a little cloud burst that's purple and sad yet deeply soothing. I'm so sorry that this dear and tortured soul is no longer among us.

Michael Nezter, our mutual friend, has a beautiful video of Jeff on his website here. Really worth watching.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Dave & Paty Cockrum Scholarship

New pics just in from Carol Thomas at The Kubert School (thanks Carol!)
As noted, the Kubert School in Dover, NJ, produces tomorrow's best and brightest comic artists. I had the pleasure of presenting this year's Dave & Paty Cockrum Scholarship to Brigid Allanson, one of the promising young talents at this extraordinary academy. Spider-Man artist Adam Kubert and his legendary dad are also pictured.

Note: When you purchase comics from the Estate of Dave Cockrum (Dave's personal comics), the proceeds benefit this annual scholarship.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Don McGregor Honors Me

I grew up reading his work. He was one of my favorite scripters. What an honor to see the writer Don McGregor mention me on his blog:

Gene Colan has his beautiful daughter Nanci and her family, his talented son Eric, and the stand-up, talented writer, extraordinaire Clifford Meth around him. Me? I'm getting lost in night-time Brooklyn.

I've been meaning to get back to finishing the Notes and what I've come to think of as the SAWED OFF SHOTGUN MINI BLOGS. I went in to see Gene right after I came back from Rhode Island, in case I had to back up home for my Mom.

I went at dusk, and spent three and half hours with Gene, talking about everything from life, changes in our lives, comics, movies, and about the people I mentioned above who have been there for him in this difficult time. I hadn't been in the area where Gene was at the time in years--probably not since we filmed DETECTIVES INC. One of the first things I told Gene was that where he was was directly across the street from where the final scene for the film was done. And a few blocks up from where Gene was that night is where we filmed on an overpass to get the opening shot of Rainier crossing a busy, wide, night-time Manhattan Street. And while we were doing it, we could have turned the camera around and filmed thieves breaking the side window on the cameraman's car and stealing the equipment stored there.

I think Gene enjoyed the stories. And I certainly just enjoyed being with him. I left about 11:15. This was just after bin Laden had been shot, and the city was on increased alert. It looked like they had blocked the Battery Tunnel entrance, which meant you had to go onto the East Side highway.

I have written before that I am no Hawk of the Wilderness, but I thought, okay, I can take the ramp onto the Brooklyn Bridge and get home that way. Except the ramp was blocked off. Police cars were in front it. Armed police men stood at the side the car. I had to get off Houston Street. I knew if I could get to Bowery, I could get to the Main Entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is one of those Manhattan Streets, that even when you're stopped a street lights, you can't see a single street sign telling you where you are!

Photo of Don and actor Robert Culp.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kubert's World

The Kubert School in Dover, New Jersey continues to turn out tomorrow's most promising new comic artists, and I had the pleasure today of presenting the Dave & Paty Cockrum Scholarship to Brigid Allanson, one of the promising young talents at this extraordinary academy. There were also new scholarships memorializing Dave Simons and Al Williamson (Al's son was on hand to award this one).

There's much better photos, I'm sure, including some with Adam Kubert and Joe actually smiling, but this was the only one that found it's way to my cellphone.

Note: When you purchase comics from the Estate of Dave Cockrum (Dave's personal comics), the proceeds benefit this annual scholarship.

My Friend Dave Cockrum

Everything about Dave Cockrum was extraordinary--his draftsmanship, his designs, his storytelling... and the man himself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I, Rat Fan

I've delivered my liner notes for "Lost In The Light," the forthcoming (and perhaps final) LP/CD from my beloved Good Rats. After more than three decades as a die-hard Rat fan, imagine my elation at participating in this long-awaited historical release.

In truth, this has been a banner year for Rat heads. The reunion shows in Long Island and at B.B. King's in NYC (I covered one here) were off the charts. And seeing not one but two Rat tracks score the forthcoming film "Roadie" proved that there's still some justice in the world, however miniscule.

Last month, Peppi sent me a demo of the new/old "Lost In The Light" collection--a cornucopia of never-released tracks that rope in every incarnation of the pashas of poetry, the sultans of syncopation. It may not score as seminal as "Tasty" but it's an oasis to those of us dying of the famine that has become rock radio.

Visit the Good Rats website for updates on where the Rats are playing, and watch for "Lost In The Light." Tell Peppi I sent you.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Marvel Masterworks: Daredevil Vol. 6

Just turned in my introduction to the forthcoming Marvel Masterworks: Daredevil Vol. 6 (Marvel Entertainment), which will collect Daredevil 54-63. It was a welcomed chance to spend several hours looking critically at Gene Colan's work, particularly on Daredevil, and to get paid for it. Thank you, Jeff Youngquist, Senior Editor at Marvel, for this opportunity.