I went to lunch yesterday (without wearing my air cast--I'm a rebel) with the amazing Howard Cruse. I'd asked him to make an appearance at Word Street--to show up as a "special guest" in my Graphic Novel course that was supposed to take place this summer, but that course was cancelled due to low enrollment. But he still wanted to meet me, and of course, I certainly wanted to meet him. His "Stuck Rubber Baby" graphic novel is one of the greats, and it's one of the few graphic NOVELS that actually deserves the term (it's not just a bloated short story like so many of them).
You should all buy it.
Anyway, our lunch went very well, and he was kind enough to let me browse through his bookshelves when I picked him up. Like any writer or artist, I love to see what people have on their shelves. I was glad to see Crockett Johnson's "Barnaby" visibly represented. You know Johnson from his "Harold and the Purple Crayon"--that was a huge influence on me as a kid. It was probably my favorite book for a time. I think "Barnaby" is out of print these days--but if you see a collection of it on ebay, you should snap it up.
We had a long discussion about Mad magazine, and talked about education and art and writers and on and on. Howard is a kindred spirit, and I was glad to get the chance to hang out with him. We'll definitely do it again.
He was disappointed that I didn't bring any of my artwork to show him. I was way too embarassed to show my amateur hackwork to a professional (award-winning!) artist. But maybe I'll send him some minicomics. I promised him I'd at least post some more of my work on this blog, so he could check it out (with the added bonus that the entire world can see the awesome and awesomely bad stuff I've drawn). So over the next few weeks, I'll constantly update this blog with pieces of work from the past and present.
(Actually, when I went though a pile of artwork to see what I should post, I found a few things I did over 15 years ago--and it's fun for me to think about why I decided to draw that stuff and why I chose that particular style back then. In many ways, my art was better back then, maybe because I was more serious about it--I was going to go to art school I thought--but it also reflects my interests of the time. Not that my interests have changed that much since I was like 5 years old--I liked superheroes and space ships and swordfights then, and I like that stuff just as much now.)
So, buy Howard's graphic novel, (actually, buy all of his stuff), and keep checking back here for illustrations from my pile.