Friday, January 8, 2010

Fourteen Years of Bad

This is a recent watercolor illustration that accompanies a short story I first wrote in 1996. Entitled The Man Who Starved Nature, it was originally intended as the first issue of a digest-sized series of illustrated novellas. Having created a complete prototype, I presented it to the cartoonist Jim Woodring, nervous, but eager to have his response. A week later I found myself a passenger in his car. Upon asking him what he thought, he quickly praised the original drawings. I then pressed him to comment on the writing. What I heard, over the sound of passing traffic, was “It's bad”. I was too afraid to ask him to repeat himself, letting it go at that, wondering just what he had meant by “bad” – bad as in just plain bad writing, or bad as in dark or wicked. Dreading the former, surrendering to my own neurotic tendencies, I shelved the project and have sat on it all of fourteen years, only now giving it a new airing, deciding it merits a fresh treatment, its “badness” now its rising merit.

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