“….stirring dull roots
with spring rain….”
Believe me, there are no more beautiful months than April. April is not only the cruelest month, it is the most dangerous month. April gives people the idea that it’s a new year. Because it is April, things are going to be different this year. People believe that they’re actually going to buy those fantastic Bermuda shorts. Every day they are going to be at Jones Beach. They’re going to utilize every minute. Already, some of the warm days have slipped by and you have done nothing. That should be a clue. You’re letting it squeeze through your fingers again! But the trouble with April is that it is a cruel month and it is a beautiful month and a dangerous month.
But I didn’t know any of that in those days. To me, April is the month you sold seeds. You had Arbor Day and that kind of stuff.
The sun is trickling down on Cleveland Street and bouncing off roofs. And you can see the Sherwin Williams Paint sign glowing because they had just repainted it. The big globe and the big can of paint pouring over the top, and it says, COVERS THE EARTH. We always played behind the paint sign, and the sun was hanging over it. And I am all excited, knocking on Patty Remaley’s door.
I knock. I knock again and then I hear something stirring inside. People moving around. I knock again and the door opens, and of course my first thought is to say, “I have brought you nasturtium seeds,” because that’s what I always did when people opened doors.
There is Mrs. Remaley. Who, by the way, was an exact duplicate of Patty Remale only more so. Boy, she was a high-octane lady!
Mrs. Remaley looks out at me and says, “Yes?” This is not going according to script. Right away, because I had gotten a note from Patty Remaley saying that mamma Remale would not be here and that the two of us would have an idyllic afternoon making fudge. Mrs. Remaley says, “Yes?”
“Ah…is Patty home?”
“Who shall I say is calling/”
“Ah…” I figure that Patty is now in some room of the subterranean caverns of the Remaley house, dying of unrequited love, probably back there sweating bullets and thinking of this magnificent human being in the red corduroy cap.
I say, “Ah…would you tell Patty that I’m here?”
“Who are you?”
And then I hear Patty in the next room, one of the rare times that I actually heard her voice when it wasn’t dripping with sarcasm. I hear her say, “Mother, who’s out there? Is somebody asking for me?”
Mrs. Remaley turns and says one of the worst things that’s ever been said about me, ever. She says, “Yes, Patty, there’s some little kid here.”
Some little kid.
“Who is it?”
Mrs. Remaley turns to me and says, “Who are you?”
“Tell her Jean’s here.”
There’s a dead silence because obviously Patty heard this.
Patty says, “Jean? Jean who?”
Mrs. Remaley says, “What’s your last name, little boy?”
I say, “Jean Shepherd.”
This is really what happened. All this became a legend and a myth in Northern Indiana. Today folk singers are singing about this. It was of these awful moments in history. Like Casey Jones riding ol’ ninety-eight to this disaster.
Graphic Novels Part 3
Eric Droocker. often uses a flat and wordless style, as heir to earlier woodblock book artists such as Frans Massereel and Lynd Ward who produced numerous graphic novels without words before there was a term for them.
Other artists have also used wordless or almost wordless forms, such as Milt Gross and Peter Kalberkamp:
Inexpensive paperback reprint and two-page sequence showing the two main
characters, who had been separated and who,
because of the FATE sign, ironically remain apart
(until the happy ending),
in a witty use of a word in this “wordless” Great American Novel.
Apparently Kalberkamp’s only creative work in this field,
Mea Culpa is a large-format, thick volume
in strong, black-and-white imagery
Peter Kuper attracted my attention with a comic-book format version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. He works in black and white as well as color. His most prominent style involves his elaborate stencil-and-airbrush technique. Much of his work involves social protest. For a while he also created editorial art for The New York Times, Time magazine, and The New Yorker. A reviewer commented: “Kuper is that rare creature, a graphic novelist who has managed to weather changing fortunes of the comic-book industry…by relentlessly diversifying his work.” Below is the Jungle cover and various individual images from other works.
Chris Ware, whose best-known work is Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth, a visual delight, especially for its elegant color, but whose subject matter always seems to consist of slow-moving, sad, downers. Too damn unrelievedly depressing for me to pursue further. Cover & four pages.
Art Spiegelman, whose three-volume Maus won a Special Pulitzer Prize, is most peoples’ only contact with the genre. (Many mistakenly believe that the book initiated the field of graphic novels). The book portrays Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. His style is a simple pictorial one, but careful viewing reveals his subtle use of various graphic techniques that amplify his ideas. A very good example is, within the context of his human/animal conceit (in his bio/autobiographic Maus) of using mice to represent his father and other Jewish inmates of Nazi concentration camps, the Nazis depicted as cats, he shows himself at his drawing board wearing the artifice of a mouse-mask. This is bluntly unavoidable as a metaphor, but so well conceived. Oh, and those annoying flies buzzing around him–it must be more than ironic coincidence that of those flies in every panel, three in the page’s final image conjoin to appear like the sad face of all his relatives and fellow Jews–yes–a ghostly mouse. Their history, in spirit, occupies the very air he breathes.