The sad reality is that in the last 2 months we were hit hard with 4 funerals. My Tante Hannelore (aunt in english), Sandy's Aunt Dolly, a dear friend's mother and a poker buddy's father all passed away recently. Very, very sad. My Tante was the only Aunt I had here in the U.S. We have relatives over in Germany but our family here in the U.S. is very small. Sandy's side is HUGE! 50-100? Who can keep track of all the cousins, aunts and uncles...Catholics! I think there's a degree of comfort there because of the size. With me it impacts more I think our family being so small. We just literally lost 1/10th of my direct family I grew up with. For 23 years there were just 10 of us in my family. Now we've got a few spouses and some kids added in to beef up the line but for the majority of my life just us 10. So Tante's loss has left a big hole.
She loved Jolly Rancher candies. LOVED THEM. Always had them around. But--as is the case with my dad--they often changed the names of things because they translated things in their minds in German. Tante always called Jolly Ranchers "Happy Farmers." Every time I think of it it makes me laugh. When we explained to our daughter that Tante died she was a bit confused at the concept and a little sad. She said, "She was nice...she always gave me those candies." So I was delighted beyond description when we went to the funeral and amongst all the pictures was a candy bowl filled with Happy Farmers with a small note beside it saying, "Please take a Happy Farmer candy! From Hannelore." I let Stella take three. I took three, too.
The Happy Farmers aren't the only memories left behind but I certainly don't want to make this blog to sad. Let me just give Tante a proper little tribute here by letting you all know how brave her and my Uncle Herman were. They grew up in a war-torn Europe. My Uncle lived in Estonia, My Aunt in Germany. Both were forced into armed services at quite young ages. My uncle forced to fight for Germany when his country was occupied and my Aunt, like many children, recruited in the Hitler Youth. My Uncle saw heavy combat. On two occasions he was severely injured, once being shot through the stomach and later he had an eye shot out. He fought and killed others. In one instance he told the story of having to face off with another soldier with just his bayonet left, his rifle out of bullets, killing the other boy (for that is what they both were) as he fired wildly at him. He was a P.O.W. held by British forces and eventually met my aunt who worked in a hospital. They knew that they needed to get out and found there way here to America. They had no one but themselves but made lives for themselves here. Eventually they convinced my dad to come here instead of Australia and the rest is history. Brave people. They were larger than life and, basically, without their coming here and convincing my dad to come here I wouldn't exist. So I thank them dearly.
In Other news! I've been working diligently on several exciting projects. BB WOLF AND THE 3 L.P.S is coming along very nicely as you can see by the page of art above. Johnnie and I are hoping for a summer release. But, very least, we are confident it'll see book form sometime in 2008. I will, of course, keep you posted on the details. I must say with all sincerity, though, that I've never been prouder of my art. The book is looking fantastic and Johnnie's been a pleasure to work with (for those of you who don't know, Johnnie Arnold is the writer). The whole project's been a dream project from the start.
ALSO! Benn plugging away on the WEAPON OMEGA storyline in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS. Issue #4 is about to hit the stands and I've just finished writing #7 with 5 more to go. Writing for a big publisher like Marvel is challenging. I'm definitely unaccustomed to having to deal with all the editorial control and it can, at times, be somewhat vexing. I'm used to writing whatever the hell I want, killing off who I want, beating up whichever character i want, saying words like "turd" or "testicle" when I feel it's imperative to the betterment of the reading experience. So, these are some of the things I've had to adjust to working for a company that has certain guidelines. not always as easy as you might think. But I'm a team player, man...I work within the system and I respect the system, man. It just makes things more challenging...forces me to think outside my own little creative box I've built these past 40 years. And I think I'm doing a fairly good job all things considered and I hope you're all digging my shit (couldn't use that word either in MCP...I tried several times. sigh, I really like that word too).
Besides the work update I'm gearing up for a couple other new books in 2008, one the looonnng overdue 3 GEEKS graphic novel I've been promising. The story's been written for over a year and I actually have a few pages done--been done for a year actually--just haven't had the time to finish the damn thing. But I think it'll be ready soon. So keep your eyes peeled.
That's it for now and I promise to get back on a decent blog schedule again.