Yep, that’s right. I wrote a book over the last six weeks or so. It’s called “Awful Activities: A Jumbo Compendium of Stuff to do for Immature Adults.”
What did you do during that time?
Oh, you didn’t write a book? Well, then, shut yer yap.
To say I “wrote” a book is a bit of a stretch… I wrote and drew a book. Does that diminish or enhance your views of my accomplishment? Well, let’s frame it this way… Did you write/and/or/draw a book in that time? Okay, then.
So it’s an activity book with one big illustration and a caption on most pages… you, the reader, are supposed to fill in the rest. Wow, so one big doodle and a few words, and suddenly I’m William J. D. Shakespallinger? Of course not. Let’s be honest, this book is rotten and naughty and lowbrow and kind of stupid. I admit, I aimed pretty low here. Does that mean I’m embarrassed by it? Hell no. It was still a lot of work, and I’m supremely proud of this thing. Despite the low ambitions, I think it’s pretty dang funny. And it should bring a lot of snarky happiness to folks worldwide. In fact, I expect it to by my best seller to date. Is that something to hide from? No. It is not.
Here’s how it came to be… In December, I was thinking about attending an upcoming comics show in Denver, DINK, the Denver Independent Comics Expo (Most of the letters in “DINK” appear in that title, just roll with it…). So I psyched and prepped myself to finish a graphic novel that had been in hiatus in time for the show. I was… INSPIRED!
And then… I didn’t get accepted to the event. Crud. But do you think I threw a pity party? Hell, yes, I did! It was a multi kegger of a party with taquitos and many pizzas!!! But eventually I got over it. Then a few weeks later, they announced the next round of folks who could get into the show, and I was in! Woohoo! Except I had lost all momentum as well as a few weeks of drawing on the book, and had to weigh the costs of buying a table. And in even the most optimistic scenarios, I was unlikely to finish the book I had been trying to finish with the quality of art and storytelling that I had hoped for. So, screw it.
Dang. Enter Charles Brubaker, one of my cartoon pals who I have known for a long time despite not actually ever meeting in person. He’s from Tennessee, y’all, and needed a place to stay for the show, and long story long, I agreed to share his table in exchange for room and board and transportation (bonus… on the way to Denver, we get to use the HOV lanes for free with an extra rider in the car!).
So yay, I was still excited about the show, but had lost several weeks of drawing time for the book. Now what? Well, when they aim low, I aim even lower… I had been toying with the idea of an adult coloring book for awhile, and thought I could make that happen in short notice. The idea evolved into more of an activity book, which requires fewer crayons so that’s a good thing.
Important note… quickly cranking out a piece of work does not fully equate to shoddy production values, half-assed creativity or cynical exploitation. Sure, my new book has all of that, but I actually cared deeply about giving the reader the best lowbrow entertainment I could manufacture in a month. And I’m damn proud of it.
So let me ask you again… what fantastical piece of art or pop culture did you create in the last couple of months? I believe everyone… EVERYONE… has one at least good book inside them. One novel, one comic book, one cookbook, one manifesto, one collector’s guide to the world of Stretch Armstrong toys (I would sooooooo buy that book!). Or maybe one album or one painting or one poem. It can be something heartbreakingly beautiful that will bring the world to tears, or something that makes us all slam on the brakes and confront the lie that is our reality face to face, or something lowbrow and stupid that sells a lot of copies and makes people happy for a few minutes. Whatever.
“Awful Activities” is my latest offering from my canon of excellently crafted and/or hurriedly scribbled comics. What’s yours?
And now for something truly inspiring… I dedicated this book to some friends who are writers, but who haven’t quite gotten around to publishing that first book. Hopefully this will provide a motivational boost to get over that hump. Here are links to their blogs and/or other online creative outlets.
Tina Foster Caldwell writes from a vintage camping trailer parked on the back nine of her fabulous estate. Sometimes the trailer ventures out into the world. Do not cut her off in traffic.
Sally Holland is a journalist who lends her sense of truth to assorted fables, fairy tales, and fantastical stories.
Joe Wolfe-Mazeres is a music writer, radio host, and novelist who prefers writing acoustically on an old IBM Selectric because it makes his words sound warmer and more authentic.
Renee Gordon writes mostly about her two sons: smart, creative little firecrackers who tend to find the loopholes in any instruction or logical argument provided to them.
Every one of these folks now owes me a signed first edition of their books.
“Awful Activities” is available on my website. But you figured that out, right.