Carmella Concetta Geno Schillaci: 1932 – 2019

Carmella Concetta Geno Schillaci: 1932 – 2019

On Thursday, April 4, 2019, my grandmother Carmella Schillaci passed away.  She was 86 years old.

She was a strong-willed 100% Sicilian with a icy glare who could hurl a fuzzy slipper with computer-like accuracy. She liked to brag that when she was a county hospital nurse she wouldn’t take any shit… both people and patients admired her for that.  I just think she scared the hell out of them.  Either way, stuff got done.

Carm, or as I would call her “Nan” (the origin of which is completely lost to me) was the daughter of uneducated, but hard-working Italian immigrants.  She only spoke Italian at home… learning English after she started school.  I would hear her and my Aunt Lucy speak it when they didn’t want me knowing something… both then and now the Italian language sounds like music to me…. and I wonder if they’re talking about me.

I got as far as learning the swear words… and THAT only came when I messed up.  In a way, being bad built my vocabulary and exposed me to my native culture.

But, despite her humble, uneducated beginnings, my grandmother AND grandfather managed to get educations and rise above their parents.  In turn, my mother became a nurse, my aunt a lawyer, my cousin is three auditions away from a Broadway career and then there’s me… I have a B.F.A., an M.F.A. and I draw a talking squirrel:  three out of four isn’t bad.

When I drew political cartoons, Nan made sure she saw them whenever they were printed.  Little did I know (only finding this out after Nan was moved into a skilled nursing facility) she cut every single panel out and saved them… we found four drawers filled with clippings.  Hundreds of panels.  We could barely get the drawers open… NO IDEA how she managed to get them shut.

She was complicated, principled, mean, angry and fragile all at the same time.  She wouldn’t hesitate to give you the shirt off her back, but she’d make sure to call you an asshole while she was giving it to you.

She always wore ORANGE lipstick. I told her once to try another color… because NO ONE wore orange lipstick. (Me the fashionista and style guru… have you ever seen MY closet?)  One day she put on red just to show me.  It looked horrible… so I never mentioned it again. Weird. I guess that’s why color theory is still a theory.

I owe her a lot and never repaid her.  That really sucks.

At least now she’s at peace.  No more pain.  If there is a Heaven, she’s there now… knocking on the gate and yelling: “Let me the HELL in, goddamn it!”  She was a spiritual woman… really, she was.

Every single cat and dog she ever nursed and fed will be up there waiting… along with my grandfather… wondering where all these animals came from and fully aware the party is over… and Mom is home.

Love you forever Carmel… thank you for everything.  Get some rest.

 

 

Categories: announcements

2018 can kiss my furry tail… and some other stuff…

What does 2019 got that I don’t already have?

Around this time of year I do a recap of the state of Bob.  What I did, what worked, what I totally messed up… but, you know, mostly the mistakes.

In 2018 I worked harder than I’ve ever worked before. And yet, I really think this year (with a few exceptions) saw my weakest work ever. Some days I was scribbling just to stay alive. The content flow gave me purpose. Totally irrational. But, when you see a life preserver you don’t complain what it looks like, you just grab onto it and hold tight.

Yeah, it was like that.

The routine of the work, the process, was the only thing that kept me sane.  Seriously.  What’s worse is that all that grad school talk about process (the stuff that I listed under “total Bullsh-t”) is really true! Dammit, they WERE right. Guess that justifies the student loan I’ll be paying off until i’m 62.

All in all, this year can kiss Bob’s tail… along with assorted parts of myself.  Some parts it can kiss twice.

2018 sucked. It aged me far more than the conventional 365 days would.

This year has been rough…what with the uncertainty of everything.  Hold up… I take that back.

The only thing certain was/is uncertainty.  85 days this year there was nothing BUT uncertainty… along with a lifetime of wondering if it’s coming back. The “ALL CLEAR” in big bold type is followed by fine print that says, “… yeah, but watch your back… for, like…forever, sucker!”

There’s no more rest.  It’s part of us now.

I started out near the edge of losing it all… with each day since January 1 doing what it could to push me closer and closer to it.  There were a few times when I came close enough to look over.  One time I did look over… and thought: “It might not be that bad…”

We were reminded of the brevity of it all.  Of mortality. Of weakness in times of strength and strength in times of weakness. Of wondering when it’d all be over… and the emptiness of that moment when it was. I was encouraged, discouraged, enraged, emboldened and just so damn proud. Of wanting to change, knowing that change was needed, and yet still resisting the change because I was/am so damn scared.

I was up, I was down, I was like a yo-yo.

I was in my head more than I should have been. Anxiety was at an all time high.  Panic attacks dive bombed me when I least expected it.

I was selfish, selfless, real and completely fake. I was alone more than I wanted to be. Ignored what I had, bitched and moaned about what I didn’t have.

Grateful.

Relieved.

Exhausted.

Making plans that will never touch the face of reality. And reality… what a pain in the ass that is.

Reminded again and again of the risks I never took. The thanks I never gave. The total prick that I was. Seeing where I could be a better man, and wondering why I wasn’t good enough already.

Through ALL of this, there was that squirrel.  The longest relationship I’ve ever had.

I love my wife, my daughter, my family, my dogs… but that squirrel… that made-up, talking cartoon squirrel, man… life preserver yet again.

I’m not hoping for a better 2019… hope like that is futile and just a set-up for disappointment. There are more challenges ahead as always. I’m just going to keep on being… protecting my life. Appreciating the little things and the big things like health and humor. I have to. Because I don’t know if I could do 2018 again.

Thank you all for sticking around. Your appreciation for my work is everything… but make no mistake, I need that squirrel just as much as you do… if not more.

 

 

Bob Calendar 2019 – cover progress…

It’s that time of year again.  Every year I marvel at how fast calendar time creeps up on me.  It happens every year and yet I still treat it as something unexpected.

In keeping with Bob calendar tradition, the cover pays homage to cartoonist Bill Watterson’s masterpiece of a comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.

Here is the cover as a work-in-progress.  It’s ink on bristol.  Bill Watterson was/is a very traditional cartoonist so I keep the coloring non-digital. I start with markers and do accents with gouache and colored pencil.  I like all the covers that I’ve done… but I think this one is already special.

Here are the covers from previous years…

2015 Bob the Squirrel Calendar

 

 

 

 

I’m hoping to complete the inside calendar art soon.  I’ll keep everyone posted when the calendar will be available for purchase.

 

 

Categories: announcements bob