Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Moment in the Life of a Comic Book Artist's Wife

Part 12,879: "And This is My Wife..."

There is a part of being a comic book artist's wife that no one tells you about until you get to the very moment where you say to yourself, " Oh Hell! This is NOT happening!!" If you are a good wife, you do it with a smile... I am ashamed to admit I have not always done it with a smile.

As you have read in earlier posts, comic book conventions ("cons" for short) are not necessarily my favorite weekend getaway, but with three kids, and three dogs, and two cats, I am not picky when the opportunity to high-tail it alone with the artist comes along. For the first few conventions, we were young and not many of our comic book friends (mostly male) were married. I just tagged along and taught Tony manners along the way (as in, "I'm standing right here, could you introduce me?" Who knew I had the invisibility superpower?).

As the years went by I spent most of the time during conventions not at the convention at all. I would do a little research and filter about the town going to museums, going to yarn shops, or just walking if I was in a place like New York... did I mention going to yarn shops?

Then one day it happened! Just as I was grabbing my purse off of one of those horribly uncomfortable convention folding chairs, Tony says, "Stace! This is Joe Shmoe and his wife Jane. I was telling them how you hate being in the convention hall during the day and since Jane doesn't know anyone, I was thinking you could take her along with you today..."

THIS is the part where you find out what kind of wife you are.

You have a couple of choices:

1) Lie and say you were just heading to the ladies room but if you go anywhere you'll be sure to let them know (fat chance).

2) Smile graciously and go on and on how you've got 12 yarn stores you've planned to visit. If the wife perks up, there's a good shot that the two of you will get along.

3) Bring her along and hope for the best that one of the two days you have to spend alone will be filled with making a new friend.

Now, don't for a second think that I don't know how horribly insensitive and just plain mean this all sounds, but I was once burned very badly after inviting another wife along for a day of shopping. She insisted on driving (although she didn't know the city) and picking the places we were going to go visit (although she didn't know the city or ME for that matter). She decided where we would eat lunch (and turned her nose up at what I ordered). On the way back to the hotel, we ended up in a traffic jam for an hour because she insisted on taking the highway. During this time, she had undoubtedly decided that she didn't like me and very much wanted me to know that she didn't like me. I couldn't leave because she was driving and, God help me, there were moments where I thought she was actually going to start blessing me out. It was a complete nightmare, one that I have never been able to shake. I later found out from a mutual friend that that was "how she is." I don't know, maybe I said something... Or maybe she was just CRAZY!!! She actually sought me out at a future convention to see if I wanted to go shopping? Wha..????

So now you might see my trepidation in inviting a complete stranger along on one of my excursions away from Comic Book Land. I tell ya, one bad apple...

Okay so back to our three options. More often than not I would choose #3. More often than not, it was a very good day.

I have a sentimental reason for choosing Option #3 or "the high road" when presented with this uncomfortable situation. I was once the rookie wife, the Jane Shmoe if you will, at this three-ring comic book circus also known as a convention; and if you don't read comics, haven't a clue how to pronounce Superman's real name, and (never actually having smelled one) think Klingons smell, then the convention experience is generally a torturous 8-9 hours.

One of my first conventions was San Diego Comic Con (not a good choice for first-timers) and Tony had just begun Starman. Archie Goodwin was Tony's editor then. Archie was an editor, nay, a man like no other. He spoke so quietly yet commanded incredible respect. I was only fortunate enough to meet him once, but we talked many times on the phone. Tony could be hopping mad about his job...or the position of the sun... but the moment he got on the phone with Archie it was like someone had shot him with a tranquilizer gun. God! I wish I could have bottled that voice!

Archie was married to an equally wonderful woman named Anne who, for at least one day, was my guardian angel.

There I was, lost in a sea of capes and tights, superbly pissed over the loss of my way too expensive cappuccinos, preparing to have a ritual beheading of the Klingon kind, and regretting terribly my decision to come along to San Diego Comic Con (You can read about my cappuccinos and stupid Klingons here.). I was not happy, so much so, that at least two complete strangers said, "Cheer up!" as they passed our table.

Enter stage right: My wonderful guardian angel!

Sweet Anne, probably choosing option #3, asked me to go with her on a harbor tour, ya know, to get out of the chaos of the convention. Happily, I grabbed my bag and escaped with this nice woman whom I had never met before in my life. It was a fabulous afternoon. Anne taught me so much in that short time. She taught me how to handle conventions "in doses," and that she herself didn't spend a lot of time at the hall. She loved to travel with Archie but spent her days out in the cities she visited sightseeing and whatnot. As a stupid newbie, it never occurred to me that I could LEAVE the convention and come back when the chaos was over (this from a girl who at 19 sold her car and hopped a flight to France). I wasn't bound to that table covered in white plastic and clad with a blue satin skirt. There were no shackles jailing me to endless hours of comic book chatter. Even though I was going to a convention, I didn't have to stay at the convention.

Funny, now that I have made so many friends in the comic book world, I actually like being at the con. I sit and knit and blab with whomever has made the poor choice of sitting next to me at the booth (So I can talk! Sue me!). I still do like to escape the chaos and savor some time to myself, but now I leave to buy yarn, not to preserve my sanity.

And although I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that there is a 99% chance that everything will be fine, I invite that poor wife with the "I'd rather be in hell than here" look on her face along for a day of shopping. I even limit my yarn shopping to one store (No, really!). I do this as a sort of pay-it-forward for Anne, for teaching me to help myself, for showing me one more way to survive in this kooky comic book world.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Moment in the Life of a Comic Book Artist's Wife

* I do not pretend to have excellent grammer or superb spelling. If errors in these areas upset you then you will most assuredly despise my writing and I suggest that you stop now unless you couldn't read this to begin with because it is far too small and I am too proud to make it any larger. I do love a good run on sentence!

Part 198,321: The ALMIGHTY DOLLAR!

God, it makes paying your mortgage so much easier, doesn't it? Or should I say that it's so much harder to pay your mortgage WITHOUT it? Well, welcome to the feast or famine life of a comic book artist (or at least of one comic book artist). First, let me say that I am so grateful for the life that comics provides for my family. The industry has been very good to us and when I say industry, 90% of what I am talking about is the fan base (if it appears that I am kissing the proverbial "ass" well, call it like you see it, 'cause I AM!). Seriously, if you all don't read what my husband draws and/or writes, we starve... until I convince some engineering company that I can do more than fix those little tabs on disposable diapers and go back to work myself. I suppose I did get those degrees for something....

Like any freelance job out there, if you don't work, you don't get paid. No vacation time, no "personal time," no sick time. There are no bonuses, health or dental benefits, or 401(k)'s. There's not even a big fat holiday office party! If you're down for the count, you'd better make sure you've got financial backup or great relationships with your creditors. It's all a great big juggling mess until you sell a movie, or at least get an option on one, and then you can breathe... for awhile.

So you'd better make sure you like drawing and you can do it to support a family, or an addiction, (or your wife's addiction because she needs "a little something" to cut the edge of being married to a comic book artist), depending on your situation. You'd better love it in your bones, in your soul, in the corneas of your eyes, in the mitochondria of your cells; because it's so easy to look at that drawing table and tell yourself, "I make my own hours. I'll work tonight." And then "tonight" comes and that blank paper is still staring you in the face menacingly, but your family or friends are going out to a movie and you really want to go. How overwhelming it must be to create when you haven't the inclination to do so. How scary that seems to me, really.

On the other side of that coin, when Tony's "got his game on," it's very difficult to pull him away from the drawing table. Thank God that's more often than not, bless 'em! (Yes, another southern colloquialism.) He's recently gotten back into painting after years and years of my pleading with him to do so. When Tony finally picked up that paintbrush, it was like a child opening a box of Crayons for the first time. And when I say Crayons, I mean the box of 96 colors with the built-in sharpener! I wish I could have bottled that excitement... You know, for a rainy day... to put a few drops in his coffee in a Catherine de Medici sort of way when those dark, down times come around. Oh no... that's right.. The "Catherine de Medici" bottle is for when he doesn't take the trash out.

Look at her! I knew nuns that had that same composure while inflicting punishment.

But most of the time, really, if we're not getting a paycheck, it's a publisher red tape mix up. It's been more than a month since we've received a paycheck that was actually right as in, not missing half of what was owed to us. Paying bills on "half" doesn't quite cut it but what are you gonna do? Bite the hand that feeds you? Not if you have "a lick a' sense," as they say here in the south. You live off of savings, you know, your "back up plan." "Back up plan" meaning that huge change jar in the corner of your closet. Don't laugh! That change jar saved our butts the first years of our marriage while I was just finding my sea legs on this ship-of-fools.

I just love Hieronymus Bosch! I can so relate to his art...sigh!

Then, at some point the rocking of the boat became second nature, the sea swells less daunting, but it doesn't make the comic book artist's (or artist's wife's) life less difficult, or less worrisome. It just means you bear the financial storms with a little less wear and tear on your marriage, on your psyche, and on the wrinkles on your face.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yeah, I'm Here...

I haven't been here in a while but I think that I still know my way around. I've missed blogging but the internet has had to take a back seat for many moons now. You know... life and whatnot.

I haven't been able to follow my favorite blogs (which I miss terribly) and I haven't been able to write, not even for my fiction blog, Streak O Lean. I haven't written anything, not even a thank you note. Why do I go through these times? Why is it that sometimes it's so hard to get words down on paper? Now my mind hasn't been a great big blank all of these months, but having the words in my head and stopping to write them can be such an ordeal. The truth of the matter is that my life moves far too fast. I just can't seem to catch up.

What I wonder, however, is what would happen if I did "catch up"? What does "caught up" look like? Has anyone ever actually done it (Martha Stewart, you can lower your hand... sigh!)? I really tend to beat myself up for not having reached the "caught up" status, but paradoxically, I know that it doesn't exist really. So why do I insist on keeping it on the horizon? I think it's because it's a convenient excuse. It's the reason I give to others, and most importantly, to myself for not being the best that I can be. It's an excuse with which just about any wife, mother, sister, friend can identify. "I am just too busy!" "I'll do that when I have time." "I wish there were more hours in the day." "Not now! Mommy's really busy."

Just reading those phrases makes me feel tired and worn out.

So "catching up" must be a state of mind. I suppose if I just let go of the notion that there is no end to the things that need to be done in life, I might relax. If I would just accept that life is one cycle after another, maybe those phantom finish lines in my head would vanish. Perhaps I wouldn't go straight from mundane task to mundane task trying to keep everyone happy. Maybe.. just maybe.. in the mayhem, I could carve out time to write, read, quilt, and play with my kids; to be at the helm of my own ship instead of playing first mate.

Well there you have it, my blogging friends, another destination! Another course on which to set sail. I just hope that I remember that the world is round.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Post Over at Streak-O-Lean!

Come read it...please...Do it for the children!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Streak-O-Lean has Moved

Hi All!

Just a note to let you know that I moved my short story, Streak O Lean, to its own blog. So if you are reading it (...both of you) you can find it here. All of the posts are there from the beginning, and I posted a new one yesterday that will not be posted here. You can always access it through this site. The link is in the upper right-hand corner. Thanks to all who read it! I just wanna hug yo' neck!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Moment in the Life of a Comic Book Artist's Wife

Play Nice!

Quite often my mothering skills have to bleed over into the comic book world. Perhaps some would call this micro managing. I call it necessary. My husband is one-of-a-kind and you know that these posts are usually written to poke fun at him and comic books in general. But know, if you are a fan reading this post, that I appreciate you. You make my family's life possible. You pay the bills, you take us to the movies on family day, you make our world go 'round so to speak. So, thank you.

***Warning: This post will have some foul language so please be warned and if this offends you, then please don't read this. ***

Here is a list of some of the things that Mama Bird has had to say to both my husband and the comic book world this week:

1. Tony, you are funny, big-mouthed, a great artist, and generally an all around good guy. HOWEVER, words like (deep breath) "fucker", "cocksucker", "shithook", and the like are probably to be used minimally on twitter, Sweetie. Those that know you or follow your twitter know that you have your rants will probably not be offended. More than likely, they will think you are hilarious. But there's always that one reader who will be offended. Yes, I know they can stop reading, but play nice, okay?

2. You're giving your editor anxiety attacks, ulcers, and other stress-related illnesses. Finish the book or you'll go to bed without supper!

3. (This to all those who are on Twitter, Facebook, Message Boards, etc.) Teenagers have commited suicide over internet bullying. Adults should know better.

4. Just because it's a pee diaper doesn't make it less toxic than a poo diaper, and putting it on a comic book you don't like does not equal putting it in the trash. Yes, I do agree that comic book is trash, but still!

5. Perhaps it's the Italian-American in me or just plain being a mom, but if you eff with my family, you eff with me. Those who know me know that is a bad thing.

6. Klingons suck!

7. Tony, calm down! If I told you that I like long hair on men, would that make you feel better?

8. Tony? Where are you? I can't see you... Maybe it's time to shave, Blackbeard, or I'm gonna tie some canon fuses to that tangled mess myself!

9. Did I mention Klingons suck?

10. Egos run high with celebrity. Is Tony Harris a celebrity? Not in my house! But he is very popular.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Just to Blog or Blah Blah Blah

This is a total sort of stream of thought blog (or consciousness for all of you literary types). Now I am no James Joyce by any stretch, and I actually always found it difficult to read his literature, even the annotated versions; but I want to blog without giving what I have to say the usual extra attention of being organized, etc., and yet give the stuff on my mind an opportunity to "get out".

(Side note: I just put quotes inside of a period. Now I know that is a no-no in dialogue but what about in the situation I just encountered where I am using a phrase say, in slang. Hmmm. Guess I will be looking that up.)

No, generally, stream of consciousness is not my bag. I am just a straight shooter. Must come from my engineering background. Having a profound need for things to be logical has made a lot of wonderful literature a struggle for me. Don't get me wrong. I do like metaphors and allusions (did I use that word correctly?) but I also like to know what the hell is going on. I have a rule of thumb and that is, if I have no clue what is going on by page 40 and any reliable source from the internet doesn't help my understanding of plot or characters, the book goes away. Sometimes I keep it and give it another go, but most often not. With that said, I haven't had to "put down" (How's that for a pun?) many books. Probably because I know the genres I like and just stick to those. So much for branching out though, huh? I do sometimes and find that I am quite happy about following a different genre for awhile, but I always return to my fantasy, sci-fi stuff, or the classics.

Case in point: Poetry. Hated, hated, HATED poetry in high school and the smidgen of English Lit I was required to take by the Engineering curriculum. Bearable were Shakespeare's sonnets, The Canterbury Tales, (boy I love those Brits, huh?), and Shel Silverstein. This was all true until I had to teach poetry to my son during homeschool. I chose Robert Frost, please don't ask me why. Probably because his name comes up when anyone discusses great American poets (and watching The Dead Poet's Society helped a little). So we started, and by God, I just loved it! I've read my little paperback compilation of Robert Frost's poems so much that the back has fallen off. I found an illustrated copy for children of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. The poem's short but I just love it. I can feel the chill of the winter, but I also feel the need to stop and look at the beauty of the quiet snow. And I can't read Birches enough. Somewhere on the internet there is a place where you can hear Robert Frost read his own works. There is magic there. There is magic when any author reads their own work (provided it's good work).

No magic in this blog today, just blah blah blah. I'd love to stay and chat longer....

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


* Disclaimer: I do not pretend to have excellent grammer, superb spelling, or wonderful editing skills. If errors in these areas upset you then you will most assuredly despise my writing and I suggest you stop now unless you couldn't read this to begin with because it is far too small and I am too proud to make it any larger. I love a good run on sentence!

Part 8: Country Ham and Decaf Coffee TO GO!

May showed up to work the next day hair coiffed perfectly, accented delicately with a small rhinestone barrette. As she approached the automatic doors she envisioned them slamming shut over and over again on Curtis' head. Oh she wanted to blame Twila as well but she knew in her heart of hearts that women will woo and married men should say "I woo not!" That being said, Twila's head was not excused from May's violent visions. So, with brief case in one hand and a purse large enough to carry a country ham in the other, May lifted her tiny chin and proceeded through the sliding doors. She stopped at the gumball machines, popped a quarter into a slot, turned the knob, and scooped up a large bright orange gumball. Orange. Her favorite color. Maybe today wouldn't be so bad after all.

She rounded the wood paneled, glass topped, cubical she called an office and stopped at the small swinging door. Someone had replaced Paper Snowman, gingerly taping the paper frozen vegetables back on to his mittened hand. May stood there for a moment briefly replaying in slow motion the events of last Friday in her head. With all that had happened in that explosive episode, she remembered having at the time the involuntary urge to stop and stick Paper Snowman back onto her swinging door. He was after all an innocent bystander. And now seeing Paper Snowman returned to his proper place, she hoped someone had been as good to Paper Santa as well.

The store was quiet that Monday morning, but Mondays were generally pretty quiet. The Pig's circulars were usually in Thursday's paper, so most people shopped Thursday through Saturday, except of course on Wednesday's when the Senior Citizens would arrive for their discounts. The lack of activity was usually welcomed as it allowed May to concentrate and get down to the numbers she had to crunch, and the forms she had to fill out, and the payroll she would have to finish. But the low buzz of Muzak and the clacking from someone pushing that cart made work very difficult. She grabbed the carafe from her coffee maker to fill it with water when she realized that unless it was decaf, she wasn't having any coffee. Shit! Shit! Shit! Stupid Pregnancy! She thought to herself. She stopped, put the carafe down, and pushed through the swinging door to the floor of the store, precisely where she had hoped not to have to go that day. Let's see, coffee is aisle 8, she remembered. May picked out the best decaf coffee the store sold and went to the check out lane where Dotti was working.

"Hey Dotti. How you doin'?" May managed a smile.

"I'm fine, Sweetie. You okay? You need anything? A margarita? What about a shot gun?" Dottie was one of May's most favorite people in Carrington. Dotti could be the one hanging from the cross, but she'd make sure everyone had a hammer and nails.

"I'm okay. I'm glad you didn't have to see it. You were off, weren't you?" May wrinkled her nose in embarrassment.

"Glad I didn't have to see it? That put me at least 15 minutes behind on the gossip in this store and you know I hate that!" she said with a wink. "Honey! I wish I had been here, if anything to give you some backup. Curtis may be my boss but he's still that little snot that lived across the street from me for 15 years. He ain't gonna fire me for tellin' him to put his peter back in his pants and fly right! I can still call his momma!"

"Oh! Don't do that, Dottie. I knew, sooner or later..." Tears began to glaze May's thick mascara and Dotti quickly grabbed a brown paper towel so that May could avoid both Raccoon eyes and embarrassment.

"You blame yourself and I'll come 'round this counter and snatch you bald headed!" Dotti scorned. "When you go for lunch? Let's go down to the Red Chic and get us some grease!"

"That sounds really great! Let's go about 11:30? Beat the crowds?" May replied, perking up a bit.

"Meet cha' in the parking lot then, Sweetie. And don't let that bastard see you being upset or nothin'. He don't deserve it or you for that matter!" Dotti dropped the coffee into the bag and handed it to May. "You want me to go and get water for the pot so you don't have to go wanderin' 'round this store? I ain't got no one in line right now."

"That would be a huge relief Dot!" May was thankful for good friends.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Death From a New Perspective

"End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path.
One that we all must take."
--Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings

I was once very afraid of death. In fact, until recently, I would find even the mention of it reason for tremendous anxiety. Needless to say, funerals were out of the question. The brevity of a human life was very frightening to me. Generations before us have lived and they have died. Yet, no matter how large a monument is erected in their honor or what great contribution they may have made to society, the essence of who they were as people is lost as time progresses. The parts of them that made them human- the people they loved, those that loved them back, the true moments of joy in their soul- vanishes within one, perhaps two, generations. Our bodies decay and our life experiences decay with them. Depressing? Not for me anymore, not really.

I have a love story to tell you...

Twenty-two years ago I met a gentleman who was a professor at the college I attended. I overheard that he was inviting his chemistry class to his home for a slide show of his and his wife's recent trip to Paris. That summer, I too had traveled to Paris and fell completely head-over-heels in love with France. Rudely, I introduced myself and asked if I might too come along for the slide show. He enthusiastically agreed and asked that I bring my photos as well. That weekend, I met his wife and many students (some are still good friends of mine). Even though it would be many years before I actually took one of his courses, I was always invited to student gatherings and friendly get-togethers at their home. Within the year, I met their daughter who would become my most dearest friend in the world.

From the beginning I knew that I could learn much from this couple. They had traveled the world and absorbed all that life threw their way. I knew if I shut my mouth and listened that I would learn great things from these wonderful people. One of the most important lessons I learned was how to be married. Beyond being completely in love, these two people had an unspoken protocol on how to conduct themselves in a relationship (something I am sure took work and practice). The respect that they had for each other lingered in the air. The love they had for each other was displayed with the gentlest touch or a tender smile as one brushed by the other.

As the years passed, I became very close to the family. I would house sit for them on vacation, and have them to dinner. As I became closer to their daughter, my relationship with her parents strengthened too. Their generosity to me and my family was unparalleled. Quite often they would refer to me as "their other daughter." While I was overwhelmed and honored by this statement, I always felt them more my friends.
As they grew older, it was my pleasure to go to lunch once a week with the professor's wife. The professor would always thank me for "getting her out of the house" as she wasn't able to drive due to a bad back. I am not sure if he believed me when I told him that our lunches were as important to me as they were to her. She and I were from the same mold, but were cracked in all of the right places! Most would find our wicked sense of humor revolting. When I found out they were moving two hours away to a retirement community closer to my bestfriend, I was devastated. I remember relaying my disappointed to another friend who said, "I know you were close to them, but they really need friends their own age." I think that my ability to hold my tongue reached a new level that day.
I helped my dear friend pack her parents' possessions, possessions I had looked at for 22 years. I had heard many wonderful stories about the objects in their home, how they were acquired, why they were sought, the significance and history behind them. I packed the never-ending china cabinet. As I packed this small cabinet, I found that there was always more to pack, as if the cabinet kept refilling itself as I put items into boxes. It took almost two days to finish packing that damn cabinet. Perhaps, it was because I kept tearing up. You know, all of that dust!
About a week after they moved Professor's wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. The prognosis was not good: 3-6 months. Professor was devastated and anxious (of course!) I would go up every weekend to help my friend take care of her parents. At this point neither of them could drive so I would take Professor out shopping to get what he needed for their apartment. I have never seen two people suffer with such dignity. I was blessed to be a part of this time in their lives.
I lost a very dear friend of mine on February 28, 2010. Two weeks later to the day, I lost another very dear friend of mine- his wife. They are and will be forever missed by me, but how lucky was I to have known them?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Moment in the Life of a Comic Book Artist's Wife: Part...We'll whatever part I am on!

* Disclaimer: I do not pretend to have excellent grammer, superb spelling, or wonderful editing skills. If errors in these areas upset you then you will most assuredly despise my writing and I suggest you stop now unless you couldn't read this to begin with because it is far too small and I am too proud to make it any larger. I love a good run on sentence!

We Decided to Separate!

I kicked Tony out! After 8 years I finally kicked his butt to the curb! Well, I kicked his butt two doors down to a cute apartment. NO! I did not "kick him out" as in D-I-V-O-R-C-E, but I threw out that little bit of hell called "the studio." Ahhh the studio...So much to say really and I am sure that this blog has limit of at least a million words.
"They" say that if an artist's studio is clean and organized, then he or she is not working. If that is the case then Tony is the busiest artist on Earth.

Let's start with the heaps of crumpled paper, discarded card board boxes from thousands of comp-ed comic books (we'll get to those later), and various trash (mostly inert thank God!). His favorite place to store his trash is under his desk and in places where he hasn't put some other type of object he calls "reference material." When the trash reaches a point where his desk chair won't roll anymore or he can't reach is computer keyboard, then it's time to "clean the studio."

Well, maybe the picture is bit of an exaggeration... No...Wait. That IS Tony's studio! I remember now. That's the day it flowed out of the windows and into the street. Ah, good times!

My favorite studio clutter are the boxes of "comps." The concept of "comps" in the comic book industry is an enigma to me. I am not quite certain why some artists get "comp"-plimentary copies of EVERY BOOK a publisher puts out each month and others do not. I think they send comps to the artists they want to punish the most. Oh, the artist loves to get them each month, but then they have to deal with the idea of disposing (God forbid!) or storing them. The 50 odd comic books are packaged in a neat box, oh, about 6" by 9" by 12". If you cannot yet tell, I have a particular dislike for these bundles of joy.

The doorbell rings and before I reach the door the UPS guy is back in his truck pulling away in a desperate rush. There on my porch is the bane of my existence... a little brown box. I am convinced that these boxes are sentient and can move at will (Perhaps the airholes and the "Quarantine" stamp should have given me a clue.).

When the studio was in our home, Tony would reassure me that "the comps are stacked neatly in the studio and out of the hallway." But then, as I would head through the hall to the front door, I would inevitably trip on one of these little cardboard monsters.... How did that box get from the studio to the hall? Spooooooky! I am seriously considering putting a call in to Ghost Hunters about this. If I tell them that the boxes are attacking my children while they sleep do you think Tango and Cash (or whatever their names are) would get here sooner?

Now, let's open that little box from hell....sloooowwwly now.... wait for it... inside is.... ANOTHER BOX!!!!! This one is slightly smaller and at a glance, seems slightly less menacing. But do not be fooled! You have reached the heart of the beast. It is filled with, ughh, dozens of comic books. Everything from Looney Tunes to badly drawn Superman comics (did I type that out loud?).

Of course I don't open the box. My fourteen year old boy (who will probably follow in his father's artistic footsteps) opens the box. Taken from that pit of hell, the comics are then scattered about the couch, the coffee table, the kitchen counter, the dining room table... MY DESK! Nowadays, when Tony gets home from work there is a tongue lashing for 14 year-old for opening Pandora's Box before he can peruse the contents. And then the "BUT DAD!", "DON'T GIVE ME 'BUT DAD!'" argument ensues. I'm telling you, these little boxes are bad voo doo.

So, happily, both crumpled paper and complimentary comics are two doors down. My house is generally free of menacing small boxes and comic books. Tony is happy not to have to hear the constant struggle of homeschooling said 14 year-old, and life moves at a smoother pace. I shoulda' kicked my wonderful husband to curb years ago!

P.S. As for all of that "reference material," well, that will have to wait for another blog post.