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Thursday, Whisky Day

I wasn't feeling very well when I woke up this morning. At first, I thought it was because the radiator was on all night, making it extremely dry… and when I sleep in a dry climate, my throat gets all raw. So, I had a couple glasses of water and headed into the office, figuring that once I fully woke up and had some juice, I would feel better.

However, one three-dollar bottle of Odwalla juice, a banana and a bottle of water later, I was still feeling sick. My stomach was acting up, my throat was really raw and I was just feeling sort of lethargic. When 4pm came around, I knew I just had to get home and get some sleep.

One of my favorite things to do when I'm sick is sit in bed reading comics and drinking tea. Yeah, you heard me right… comics, as in Comic Books. Now before any of you start getting all high-and-mighty because I read comic books, let me give you a little history.

When I was a kid, all of my friends collected comics. Sure, what we collected was pretty standard stuff: X-Men, Superman, Star Wars and some other superhero comic stuff. But then again, I also had my secret collection of comics hidden where my mother couldn't find them.

These were my favorite comics… copies of Zap and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and a couple issues of Raw. They were underground comics… black and white pictures poorly printed onto bad newsprint paper, and I cherished every one of them (even though I didn't really understand what was going on in most of them&#41. I found these comics from Rip Off Press had something more real about them… something that I didn't find in the four-color advertisement-filled comics from Marvel and DC.

My father introduced me to underground comics when I was a little kid. Instead of buying me copies of Spider Man and Batman, he would bring me copies of Fat Freddy's Cat, the obvious inspiration for Garfield and Bloom County's Bill the Cat. Yeah, they were a little racy… Fat Freddy's Cat had testicles and would eat Freddy's stash… but the humor was raw, and extremely funny. Even now I still have an original copy of R. Crumb's Zap Comics #0, which my father sold in his head shop before I was born. My favorite, however Raw comics: an oversized magazine which collected some of the best comics I had ever seen.

As I got older, I would go to the Trading Post in Canton, CT to get my comics. There, I would not only get my copies of X-Men and stuff like that, but the owner would also get me the latest copies of the underground comics I so loved. They knew my tastes at the Trading Post, and I would always find a surprise in my box… an international comic they got their hands on, or a reprint of an old copy of Zap. Even though I was underage, they knew it was OK with my father, and they enjoyed watching my face when I would go through the weekly subscriptions and find a copy of Boris the Bear or Flaming Carrot or the latest copy of the Freak Brothers slipped in with my normal order.

Unfortunately, when I turned 15, I stopped collecting comics… so I boxed everything up and gave it to my mother to put into storage (except for the underground comics, which I have taken with me wherever I have lived&#41.

When I was living in Boston about 6 years ago, I was browsing the discount rack at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge and came across a copy of Maus, the pulitzer prize winning graphic novel (an oversized comic book&#41 about the Holocaust. I had never been so shaken in my life. The story, the images… I had nightmares for days after finishing Book One, and I realized that this is where underground comics had gone. Art Spiegelman, the founder of Raw Magazine, had written something so powerful… and he had done it in a medium that never before had the respect of the academic community. Maus is now a required text in many high schools and colleges.

When Janet and I moved to San Francisco, our work schedules were out of synch… which left me with a lot of time on my hands. So, I went out and found a comic shop near the apartment and picked up a couple of comics (including Grant Morrison's cult classic: Kill Your Boyfriend&#41… then our schedules were re-synched and I never went back.

A few years ago, a friend at the office, Carlos, gave me a copy of Kyle Baker's Why I Hate Saturn. This was an underground comic… but now they were just called "Small Press Published" comics. I read it and re-read it. The next day, I went back to Comix Experience and picked up a copy of my very own. A few weeks later, Janet and I got a subscription box.

Janet and I now subscribe to about 15 comics on a monthly basis. Almost all of them are from either Slave Labor Graphics [Action Girl, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Lenore, Squee, Milk & Cheese and Dork] or Fantagraphics [Eightball]. We also get a number of small press comics like Optic Nerve from Drawn & Quarterly and the Jay & Silent Bob series from ONI press. The closest thing to a big-label comic that I get is from Dark Horse, which publishes the Star Wars line of comics.

Ok, I do get some superhero comics and some comics from DC's Vertigo and WildStorm divisions… but they are all created by my favorite writer: Warren Ellis. Ellis writes the seminal work Transmetropolitan. He also writes Hellblazer and the now defunct StormWatch.

Anyway, this afternoon, I decided that I should just pick up this week's selection at Comix Experience, so I could just come home and read and drink tea. When I walked in, almost all of the staff was there… and they greeted me by name. Ok, they greeted me by my last name… because that's the name on our box. I grabbed this weeks selections (a Star Wars comic, PULP and Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan&#41. They were all giddy, so I asked what was going on. Larry just gave me a shot of Jack Daniels in a Hellblazer shot glass. I asked what the occasion was, and he said "It's Thursday." Hell, who am I to argue with that sort of logic? So, I drank my shot, paid for my comics and started the 4 block walk home.

The moral of this story: comics and tea might be good for a cold, but comics and whisky are much better. By the time I got home, my throat was feeling almost fine, and the fatigue that had been plaguing me all day was gone. Thank god for the comic shop!

Posted in Smirks.

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