Friday, July 17, 2009

Dave @ 24, Part I

While cleaning up the basement today, I finally found an old journal I've been seeking for almost a year. This thing is seriously talismanic to me, in ways that are hard to describe. It covers a very brief period - a little over a month at the end of 1994 - but I'd never seriously tried to keep a journal before, and didn't afterwards, until I started the Rambler back in April '07. But the Rambler is, by design, a largely public affair; I don't get into long, soul-searching anecdotes about my personal life online. The journal was very much a journal, talking about friends and fights and dreams and hurt feelings and all of that stuff that makes up a full life.

Now, it's been fifteen years since these pages were written, and I still know almost everyone involved. But I think it's past time enough that I can post some of this (not all!) and not violate anyone's privacy.

Since I've been so bad with delivering anything of depth here lately - or, at the very least, length (depth's tedious cousin) - I think that drawing excerpts from my old journal is a good way to fill the electronic space.

Archivist's note: for the sake of authenticity, I've decided to leave in all grammatical, spelling and otherwise errors as they appear in the original. This includes the occasional strikethrough. All you really need to know for background on this entry is that I was living in my parent's basement at the time (in a room that has since been demolished, by me), six months out of college and working at the Barnes & Noble in Nanuet while struggling to get a comics career off the ground without any enthusiasm for the task whatsoever - and, obviously, not happy about any of it. Anything else that needs illuminating I will footnote as we go along.


Well, I think I'm about ready to despoil the pages of this book.

Not much to say this evening, + for now, I want to avoid the trap of writing deep analysis or a lengthy introduction to my life.

(Right now that new Sting song is in my head "When We Dance")

What to say? Here I am on the cusp of twenty-four, a quarter of a century distant from my rocket into the world. Plagued by self-doubt, feelings of worthlesslness, homliness, lonlieness - too intellegent to not to see that these feelings are self-created but not intellegent enough to think my way around it.

It occurs to me that all I really feel are these negative emotions - but, then again, I don't really even feel them that strongly.

Had dinner w. Bran + Tina1 at the Blauvelt2 tonight. Big argument in the car because Tina quit Battershell, but Bran got really angry because Tina was annoyed that Tammy supposedly flirted with her ex-boyfriend Jim. Big To-Do and even I lost my temper. I'm unclear why and I'll have to remember to watch that shit - the reason I snap at other people is rarely for something that they're doing.

At the diner we relaxed - Bran + I reminisced about the depressing intervening yrs. between high-school + now. Bran says this is the first real year he's had - I say I'm not even having this year - I'm sleepwalking through it all. Unclear but I think this makes him uncomfortable.

Working on cover for Hairbat Six,3 still don't see it as ar a real thing, think Dave might change his mind - I have no faith in my ability to pull off a good cover and I'm not sure he does, either. I think he'll go through, but we'll see. I'm supposed to finish it Tomorrow at his house - I told him the pencils were finished but I'm still not satisfied w. the background. - Perspective is proving troublesome. Got to get on the ball with this drawing crap. Also doing Dark Muse4 origin issue s for + with Terry W. - I've told him the first five pages are pencilled but only the first page + first panel second page done, + badly + cartoony at that. More stuff to worry and deny. -

Goodnight. 2:05 am.


Dad has divided up susan's old basement room into thirds - I see it or a model of it, the sections are very tiny - a cardboard cieling. I try to show how small the space is by pressing myself into a corner. Dad is renting out one of these sections to the Prestons5 - A family of four! - for a large amount of money - a thousand dollars a month, maybe? In the living room, I tell him this is unfair - he agrees, but Connie says "Brickwork" "Oh yeah, that's right" says Dad. The apartment is worth so much because it has a nice brick wall. -

I get a call from Terry's business partner6 - he's real critical, knowing I'm yanking Terry's chain - I get defensive, blustery. "Listen, fuckhead" I say. He's taken aback. Later, he starts to act up again and I say "Well, now we're getting back into that fuckhead territory"7 So I go into the basement to work in my 'studio'. It's dark, cold + damp water from the cieling + somebody's moved the bed so it's blocking the desk. I move it back, but then I have to pee. So I pee and pee and pee.


I woke up, obviously having to pee very badly.



1) Bran is Kopperman mainstay Bran Lancourt, a high-school friend. Tina was his then girlfriend, and they were very fighty as a general rule. Tina, like Bran, was a musician. In her case, a guitar player playing it as second-fiddle to a hickish girl from Northern California named Tammy (who was dating Bran's twin Ansley at the time - all very classic rock). Tina was a more sophisticated Long Islander, but Tammy had drive and songs. Tammy and Tina lived in the rehearsal space loft they rented, illegally.

2) The Blauvelt Diner, the scene of endless hours of hanging out with the twins and friend Rich Clarke from the years 1987-1996. I'm told the twins were eventually banned, but, really, the management was doing them a favor. A restaurant from the Twilight Zone if ever there was one, and not one of the cool scary episodes with Shatner, but more the boring, moralizing ones with Jack Klugman. The Blauvelt (or 'The Blauve' - rhymes with 'ow' - as my dad called it) is still there, but has been forced to upgrade somewhat in light of the added competition, so its air of failure and sadness has diminished somewhat.

3) Childhood friend, fellow cartoonist and sort-of RISD alum David Zapanta created the comic Hairbat while at RISD, in a comic class we took together. Dave saw potential in the story of a man with a bat trapped in his hair, the indirect outcome of childhood trauma suffered when witnessing the death of his father in a bat/barber related incident. It ran six self-published issues and one issue from indie mainstay Slave Labor Graphics (now going by the less spot-on 'SLG'). He's recently been trying to restart it, fitfully, and you can get a feel for his casual cartooning brilliance (and also find a better recap) over at his site: I had, if I remember correctly, lightly pressured him to follow through with the idea he had to have me draw a cover for an issue - he was initially enthusiastic, but clearly regretted mentioning it to me before I even got started. Here's a scan of the cover that I just pulled from Mile High Comics - I don't think I actually have a copy of the issue myself, and Dave has yet been able to locate the original art, which I desperately want to scan and fix. Like, really want to, a lot. More on this in future entries, I believe.

4) Christ, this is a really involved one. The ultra short-short version (to be expanded on later), is that through either Dave Z. or Bubba (a mutual friend), I met a man who was self-publishing a B&W horror fanzine with occasional comics, featuring his own Vampirella-ish mute hostess/star in the person of Melpomene, who was the traditional muse of Greek tragedies. I designed the character and drew several comics for him with her, and extensively rewrote parts of his (it must be said) amateurish script. Note: I didn't make it any better, I just said I rewrote it. I was heavily into Neil Gaiman's Sandman at the time, so I tried to bring that flavor to it.

All of the work I did for Terry gratis, and we split the copyright. Later, he unsplit it and took it back (naturally without consulting me). There was a movie made with the character, which has my sole IMDB credit, as 'comic art,' one of five such names listed. Bear in mind I'm not saying this as lament for losing my true due on the character (who still bore my design even in the film), but to point out that this was an unethical way for Terry to behave, to say the least. Some satisfaction is had by me that he paid Dave to illustrate a story for him that Dave never delivered.

5) The Prestons were a British family that house-swapped with my parents for a year while I was in college. The father also swapped jobs with my dad, with him taking my dad's classes at CCNY, and my father teaching at South London Polytech. Statistics, I believe.

6) Terry had some investors from Texas (aren't ALL investors from Texas) who were trying to make the Dark Muse a more professional affair. I presumed - rightly, as it turned out - that they didn't like my art and wanted something slicker. It must be said that the work I did for Dark Muse was pretty weak.

7) No backstory here - just wanted to point out that 'Well, now we're getting back into that fuckhead territory' is a genius line. God, I wish I were that pithy when awake...



shaunian said...

I feel like I've known you since 1994.

Christine said...

Wow... I find a lot of this fascinating! 3 things in particular:
- "Bran says this is the first real year he's had - I say I'm not even having this year - I'm sleepwalking through it all." Amazing line. Belongs in a song. Fuck it, this will be a way to get started - I'll PUT it in a song. Because I know exactly how that line feels.
- I didn't know you had been "heavily into" Sandman at any point, nor that you had been involved in something that became a movie - cool!
(that second point counts as two, thus we have finished the original 3)

Oh wait, bonus bullet:
- What did the twins do to get banned from the Blauvelt Diner???

Dave Kopperman said...

S: A little of me goes a long way, yes.

X: - Write that song.
- I've reread Sandman since, and while I don't think it's aged well (my critique is involved), I'm still impressed with the ambition, sustained tone of the writing, and the level of detail - no doubt research-inspired. I regard 'The Invisibles' (have you yet read my copies, yo?) as being the most successful mainstream extended comics narrative, but it also has major flaws. Probably 'Promethea' is the one that finds the sweet spot between myth and humanity that Gaiman was attempting.
- Dark Muse: not cool, at all.
- Blauvelt: You'd have to ask them - it was nothing at the diner (we were always well behaved). I think it has something to do with something personal with one of the staff that had nothing to do with the diner.


Ansley said...

Interesting stuff... Do I make it into the journal? Or is what you had to say about me not printable?

How far does the journal go to up to?

Interesting Bran says it's the first "real year" he's had.. cause it was.. it was the ONLY year for me.. best year of my life..

Dave Kopperman said...

The entries don't go past the end of December, and I don't think there are any specific references in there about you. By the looks of it, I only wrote about current events, and I'm guessing that we didn't interact that much in the brief period that the journal covers.

The next entry should be a challenge, since I get downright harsh on a couple of issues. Likely this will be heavily redacted.


bran said...

Ah Tina... Bubba would have had a more interesting entry as he once walked in on me having carnal knowledge of her... One of the funniest memories I've evr had... The look on Bubba's face was priceless.. oh how I love that man.

Dave Kopperman said...

A real bonding moment...