Wanderings of an artist in the trenches.

Late night musings

It’s 3 AM and outside it’s raining. A heavy, steady thrum on the rooftop. I was walking Scout just a bit ago and we’d just about rounded the last corner of the neighborhood when I could hear the oncoming rain squall. It was pretty eerie and approaching fast. I tugged on Scout to get a move on and practically half-dragged her home. We got drenched anyway. Now it hammers the house and I can hear sheets of water splattering the tiles by the pool. Scout gets antsy during thunderstorms.

Earlier, at the beginning of our walk, I saw a light in the sky. It was arcing quickly, too fast to be a jet or plane, from the clear edge of the sky to the deep orange clouds blanketing the western edge. And it was a faint light, not a bright pulsing light, such as one might see on the edges of airplane wings.

And then it was gone.

I stood watching the sky, mouth half-open, because I wasn’t really sure I’d seen it, even though I’ve had lots of these lights in the sky experiences since moving to Florida and during my nightly perambulations. So my thoughts were on Close Encounters and how the UFO’s used clouds as their cloaking device. Running all that through my head and connecting it to my idea that maybe other weather events are cloaking devices used by extraterrestrials. That’s when I heard the roar of the rain. And why it was creepy. At that point the cloud cover was complete. You couldn’t see the sky anymore, the stars were all gone.

This mood has been running all day today for me. It started this morning when the new Guerrilla Pochade box I’d ordered from Amazon arrived. Had fun putting it all together and filling it up. Playing with tubes of paint is a joy that’s hard to describe. So many wonderful choices, so much possibility encompassed in such a small tube. I figured the pochade box was a good way to go compared to the heavy French Easel I’ve used for years and years. It seems to grow heavier and heavier. I’ve been debating on whether to order one of these for a long time. Finally just bit the bullet and did it. I figured if it were easier to just hit the road and paint en Plein Air I’d probably do much more of it. The box is a neat little unit. Very compact, all things considered. I’m happy I did it. Now I have to see how it performs in the wild.

Anyway, part of the order from Amazon was also copy of Dark Horse’s reprint of the complete “Hunter” series from Eerie magazine. Man, did I ever love this story when I was younger.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Warren Magazines published Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, and Blazing Combat magazines. These were wonderful comics because they were magazine format, printed in black and white with full-color painted covers usually by the likes of Frank Frazetta, Sanjulian, etc. They contained the sequential work of some of the best creators in the business, both writers and artists. Because they were magazine format they were not bound by the comics code rating authority, so they could push the traditional boundaries and tell stories unseen in conventional comics of the day – to paraphrase Mike Richardson’s intro. As a kid growing up in the mid-Sixties these were a breath of fresh air. I was introduced to these books by my cousin Jake, who made sure that I saw all the stuff I wasn’t supposed to see, like underground comics with Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, the Checkered Demon, etc. You felt that you weren’t supposed to be reading these books. They had a sense of the far side of adult to them. They felt like questionable material, which made them all the more appealing. I loved those magazines and collected them all.

I saw the ad for it on Amazon, you know how they pepper you with things like other things you’ve ordered, and HAD to order it. I didn’t realize until I opened it up and started looking through the pages what a nostalgic slap it would be to my heart. I started tearing up while looking through it. Those pages, so graphic, so much a part of a certain time in my adolescence, put me right back to that time. I was immediately transported to my home and to the comforting closeness of family. I remember sitting in my room at my drawing board copying those pages and panels by Paul Neary. And the strongest memory was of my father. How much I miss him. There I was spending inordinate amounts of time struggling to learn how to draw, scratching away at recreating those panels line for line, and my father was moving through that house, humming and whistling, his light tread on the carpets as he wandered to and fro.

How much we take for granted when we’re young. Safe in the knowledge that all is right with the world while we’re in that comforting cocoon. Yet how swift time flies. How quickly time fades and tumbles into the past. How I would give anything to relive them, to smell those smells, to smile those smiles, to feel those hugs and reassuring proud gazes from my father again. It’s a powerful visceral want in me. Yet I wouldn’t change anything for fear of losing my children. They bind me here to the present. But, oh, those memories rise unbidden and steal away yet more time from me, the king waster of time. I feel like time is speeding up and it’s a thankless, hasty bitch. Georgie grows tall before me. I’m confused at how he got so tall so quickly. When? How? And Mary, though her voice still sounds like a little pixie on the phone, grows quickly as well. It’s unnerving, because it’s all so fast. I want it to slow down, dammit!

But there I was this morning, stunned into silence and immobility by a comic book, thoughts of my wonderful, loving father battering me. It wasn’t, and never is, a terribly unpleasant feeling. It’s actually one I sort of wallow in. There’s something bittersweet about it. It hurts so good. It reminds me of a letter that NC Wyeth wrote to his mother when he was older, married and with his children. He was looking through a photo album and writing about how he constantly goes to that album, even though it invariably leaves him somewhat depressed, morose, because he can immediately be transported to a time and a place. Captured within each photograph are all the things seen and unseen that day. It makes one wonder that if we could step into the photographs, we could travel in that time, in that place and “be there!”

And looking at those Hunter stories today I WAS there! If I looked up at the right moment, I’d be home, and everyone would be living their lives in that time in that place. God, I miss who I was then. Who we all were then.

I’m not so different now, I guess. Older, wiser. Had a lot kicked out of me in New York. But I lived a lot and learned a lot there too. I was lucky to grow up when I did. The world, though it was on the brink, was still a simpler place for a kid like me, living in the wonderful wash of comics and cartoons, novels and movies. Wallowing in the belly of a family that actually functioned on love and understanding most of the time. Never realizing totally just how lucky I was. My course has been steady. Art, art, art. And I truly believe that, obsessed as I was, as I can be about some things, I do pay attention and notice the world about me, the people about me. How they enhance my life with riches beyond compare.

I wish I could hug my father again. I wish I lived closer to my mother and my sister and brother. I wish, I wish. I wish that time could be reeled in and replayed and savored yet again.

Wow. I’ve really taken a tour here of the depressed kind. Just had a close friend pass away and it seems unreal. More time lost. More grist for that mill.

Need to lighten up. Those Hunter pages caught me off guard. Totally didn’t think I’d get that kind of hit from them.

But I think about that kind of stuff pretty often. Like NC Wyeth, I see this stuff and in each page, each panel there is a whole world of things going on. I see those pages and think immediately of everything going on at the same time. While Paul Neary is working on Hunter, Jeff Jones was painting some of the Studio stuff, as was Mike Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson and Barry Windsor-Smith. Frank Frazetta was doing some of the best work of his life! Archie Goodwin was writing away on the myriad stories he wrote, as was John D. MacDonald. Cat Stevens was cranking away at his wonderful music as was the band Jethro Tull and everyone else! The list is almost endless, too great to list it all. Johnny Hart, Hal Foster, Hank Ketcham, Paul Ryan, Stan Lynde, Jack Kirby, Russ Heath, Louis Armstrong, etc. Insert your favorite artists, writers, musicians, actors, etc.

God, what a time! Everyone was doing their thing! And it was an exceptionally rare time for so much creativity. And in those things, each, is this world all happening at the same time. How lucky we are for having them all expressing their need to create at that time. How lucky I was to be alive to experience it all. How lucky I was to have a buddy, Lum Edwards, to experience it with, who shared the sense of wonder and awe in those beautiful works. Who shared the need to emulate it all, too. We pushed each other onward to greater skill and polish.

So, anyway, the musings of a momentary sadness.

Have a great day!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


5 responses

  1. Marlene

    Lovely to read your thoughts and feelings this morning, thanks for sharing from your heart. I am inspired to draw cartoon animals like the ones of my Saturday mornings childhood! And recreate that wild free feeling.

    May 17, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    • Thanks for replying, Marlene! I’d love to scope out some of your cartoon animals and get a pick-me-up. 🙂

      May 17, 2012 at 8:18 AM

  2. Reminds me of when I saw a strange green fireball in Sarasota one night around 3 am in April. I was driving home from the labs, and I looked to my right, and saw this large bright neon green orb descending in a curve. It was going too fast to be anything human or earthly, and it was going too slow to be a falling meteor (I’ve seen and heard many large meteors fall before). But the fact that it was a perfect green orb, glowing brighter than even the street lights was eerie itself. After a few seconds, it descended behind large trees in the thick of the forest…and now, I cannot stop watching the X Files :p too much fun!

    May 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

  3. Sean,
    That’s wild! I was walking my dog one night super late and I saw a green light too. This one broke into two and then vanished. Crazy. The thing even made a whooshing sound. Wacky.

    Hope you have a great summer!

    May 18, 2012 at 6:57 AM

  4. “…It wasn’t, and never is, a terribly unpleasant feeling. It’s actually one I sort of wallow in. There’s something bittersweet about it. It hurts so good. It reminds me of a letter that NC Wyeth wrote to his mother when he was older, married and with his children. He was looking through a photo album and writing about how he constantly goes to that album, even though it invariably leaves him somewhat depressed, morose, because he can immediately be transported to a time and a place.”

    …That’s the feeling …couldn’t say it any better, the pull of an image and even a smell of some thing can send us “back” just seems to be an inate human characteristic which speaks to all our shared humanity

    May 18, 2012 at 7:38 AM

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