hocus focus…

i’m baaaack…

well, not really…

it may sound redundant, but the last six weeks of my working life have tested the limits, both physical and mental, of what is possible for me… just when i think i can’t do anymore, i do more.

at the beginning of the year, i made the decision to complete a graphic novel in 6 months. that’s not a lot of time…even if the graphic novel is your sole job…a good story, good art, good pacing and compelling characters is a tough nut to crack and make into edible cookies in six months.

the race began in the beginning of february, on my way back to new york from my winter residency. the graphic novel is my studio project for the second semester of my master’s program. the first semester i started out trying to be a painter but ended up doing a 40 odd page comic book…in about 8 weeks give or take.

this time i had to go bigger.

why? who knows.

pride? because someone said i couldn’t? to exorcise some deep-down-in-the-dark demons? because i just wanted to?

it’s all of those and none of those. ultimately, i just wanted to challenge myself.

has it been hard? yes. have i missed out of things because i’ve had to work on some pages? yes. have i been called on my crap because all i want to do is work. you betcha. has my health suffered a little because of this book? unfortunately, yes.

but that’s been the way for me since i picked up my first crow quill and ink bottle. people who don’t live this life cannot truly understand how GOOD it feels, even when you’re stressed, tired, miserable or angry, to sit at that drawing board, hear the scratching of the quill on the bristol board and know that when you cap that ink for the day, you’ve put a part of yourself on that page.

there is nothing like it. nothing.

there have been times where i’ll be at my board, working away… completely oblivious to my immediate surroundings. the hatching will be intense or the line of a shoulder will need thickening, the lettering will be slightly off but i can fix that once i scan the image in…”FRANK?”

and i will jump out of my seat, my fight or flight biological predisposition will kick in, my heart will feel as though beating in my damn throat and i will most likely curse.

someone broke the bubble…

if i don’t get to sit at my board at least an hour a day i get real cranky. it’s almost like i need to justify my existence by drawing something—breathing alone isn’t enough to justify existence. i create, therefore i am…i probably stole that from someone way more famous than myself. 🙂

at this point, i have about 80 pages and the cover left to complete on my book. this past sunday, i took a 12 pack of coke zero and my laptop and locked myself away at 8am for the day to finish my semester’s paper. i had laser focus. no ipod, no itunes, no dvd playing, no email, no anything… just me, soda and my paper. and dammit, i finished that bitch. finished.

which put me three days ahead of the brutal schedule i outlined for june. go frank!

Categories: grad school life

high school

i went to speak to a high school journalism class on wednesday.

while waiting in the main office for the teacher to come and get me, my guidance counselor from 16 years ago recognized me. didn;t hurt that i was wearing a name tag.

we shook hands, exchanged pleasantries and joked briefly.

“so, how did i turn out?” i asked, in my most wiseass-esque voice…

“you’re over 30 right? once you’re over 30 you;re officially not my responsibility.”

“damn, i wish someone would of told me that when i was 27. i was looking for someone to blame…”

Categories: life

had a dream


i had a dream that i was working on my research paper.

yeah, i know, i have interesting dreams. i even work when i’m sleeping.

i was in front of my new imac typing away. i should have known that was a dream, because i can’t get microsoft word to WORK on my new imac— that and the fact that me, the world’s worst typist, was typing away should have been a blatant indication that this wasn’t kansas.


it seemed that i couldn’t type the words fast enough. the words and ideas were coming at me like rifle bullets. it was great. then, i remember telling myself in the dream that it was a dream… and that before i wake up to remember this one great idea. then i woke up, and wrote it down in the notebook that i keep right next to my alarm clock and glasses. i figured, “great. i’ll wake up in a few hours and i’ll have this great idea to insert into my REAL paper.”

so i wake up at 4:18am… my usual time. i realize that i never put my notebook next to the alarm clock. i dreamt that i was dreaming and then woke up. the waking up part was a part of the goddamn dream.

so i can remember everything about the dream except the one damn thing that i told myself to remember.

Categories: grad school life

rechargeable frank


i’m writing this while listening to a song that i listened to in 1999— 10 long and tumultuous years ago. it’s the next to last song on an album that was with me everywhere i went. it was purchased when mp3s were in their infancy.

the first time i heard the first single from this disc was on a sunny april morning, 6:30am. My clock radio went off and i heard it. just like that. it was new music from my favorite band. it was on the radio! the first time i heard it was on the radio. can anyone say that today? today you hear everything on the net. stuff just doesn’t happen. you’re not surprised. you go to look for it or it’s emailed to you. you don’t wake up to it. hearing something for the first time like this is special, exciting. you can’t hit the back button again, you can’t reload the page, you can’t take it with you wherever you go—you have one shot, one specific moment to get it. after that, you just wait for the radio to play it again.

in fact, i specifically remember driving across town to a mom and pop music shop (remember those?) to get this cd on my 25 minute lunch break.

i put the over priced disc (i think it was $16.99) on the sticker covered counter, ready to fork over what was the equivalent of about two hours pay (after taxes, maybe three), hoping that what was on that light blue and pink disc would do something to me… if not increase my consciousness of my oneness of the universe at least let me bob my head to a familiar, yet unfamiliar beat.

the clerk said, “wow, i didn’t know we had more than one of these…”
not sure what he meant by that. but whatever.

i didn’t have a disc player in my car at the time. hell, i didn’t even have a horn— and the floors in the back seat area were completely rotted out… the only thing between my passengers feet and 55mph asphalt was a thin, red, dirty, factory installed piece of carpet. good times.

my friend dave and i listened to that entire cd that night… from beginning to end. never skipped a track…in fact, i think i may have recorded a copy of the album on audio tape for him. no burning, no file transfer— just some not-so-hi-speed dubbing.

that was a time where i thought i wanted to be a musician…that the art thing would be a side thing to my spotlight aspirations. we learned how to play at least half the songs on that album. just acoustic guitar, bass and voice. it felt good to play those songs… even if we weren‘t the best or even average…it made us feel good.

my friend and i ended up seeing this band play three times that year. drove 100 miles to see them in a smoky dive in albany, were willing to streak down a busy street to get tickets to see them a second time, and paid way too much for tickets to see them in a showroom. they were the band we’d form if we were to ever form a band.

i think about all that stuff when i listen to this music… of course that cd i bought that april day is missing…lost in the moving boxes that constituted the last two years of my life…i’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth saying again… earbuds pumping electronic files from a laptop will never be the same as listening to an audio tape in your car stereo, driving with all your windows down on a sunny, 65 degree late spring day. the quality of the sound is not audiophile level, but the experience is uplifting—wind blowing through the car, the smell of fresh cut grass, every cloud in the sky is fluffy white and following you down the highway.

it’s ten years later and i don’t do that nearly as much as i used to. i pick up my guitars every now and then to play those songs we learned that summer of 1999, but lately all i seem to pick up is a pen. or a pencil.

ten years is a long time. i wish it was 65 degrees out today… i think i need to drive.