Ahh, finally an ice cold PBR and an off the beaten path, hotel room in some town I don't know the name of. We've been driving for 13 hours today, which ended up being about 5 hours too long and 150 miles too short of our intended destination of somewhere around Pittsburgh, but in our attempt at avoiding almost $75 in toll road fees, we had to actually grab an atlas, and carve out our own path through Ohio. Problem with that is that almost all major highways in Ohio are up north and if you are heading South East like us, 95% of the roads are 2 lanes with speed limits of 55 max. I got out and walked along with the car for a few miles to stretch my legs...ok...not so, but it was possible. Ohio is a crazy land of corn fields--yes, MORE fucking corn--and picturesque Americana houses, all white picket fency, red barns and huge perfectly manicured lawns that looked like advertisements for Patch Perfect. GPS was useless since the redirect would always want us to go north to the toll roads, which lead me to believe that there's some financial deal between Google maps and the Illinois, Ohio and Indiana Toll Commissions. Ok, so the toll roads, since we're on the subject of those savage beasts, are insane! Aside from paying 3 separate tolls in Chicago to the tune of $3 each way to get to the Chicago Wizard World, it was $10 just to go over the bridge into Indiana, and then once you were there, that state's troll under the bridge wanted to pop you for another $3 just to get into the wasteland of a state. Want to get off and take a piss? Grab a meal? Well then you had to pay the toll, and then take another ticket to get back on the freeway. Waste of time. Also, I feel I need to mention that the money was obviously NOT going towards the roads as it felt like running over dead bodies every few feet there were so many potholes, and bumps that resembled the affects of tectonic movement.
Alright, enough of the roads...I'm starting to sound like some geriatric sitting on his front porch in his adult diaper with a glass of sweet tea laced with whiskey, bitchin' about the world around him. Last time we talked, I was sitting around the fire at Fish Lake Beach just north of Chicago, burning my eyes on the smoke of the fire. Since then a bit has happened including the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. 2nd day of Chicago sent us south to Lombard to meet up with the infamous hippy artist and cartoon contortionist Vincent Gordon--fellow live painter and drinker. Met him at his girl's house and from there went to his parents home so Gwen could play with the neighborhood kids, that have made the house a sort of boys and girls club. Got to know his family a bit and then it was off to eat some deep dish at a restaurant, who's name I forgot, and drink some local beer from Two Brother's Brewery which was exceptional! After that, Vincent's mom let Gwen stay at the house while we went out to a local bar to unwind. Place looked like some big midwest house that was converted into a bar. $1 beer night as well. Shit beer, but for a buck I'll drink rainwater that's infested with E Coli. Met some of the locals and realized how important going out to the local dive was to these people that lived out in the boring ol' suburbs. Almost everyone in there was a local, kind of like an extended Alabama family. Sisters and mothers meeting themselves in the mirror for the first time. Guys driving around in the parking lot in Mitsubishi Eclipses blaring crappy techno, but of course thinking they're the shit even though they are 15 years behind the times. Mullets. Shots of Jameson. Overweight comes to mind. Every patron sponsored by some local sports team. Nothing but farmland and marshland around for miles. Just enough cool though--an honesty and no bullshit attitude that definitely sets them apart from Californians. Wasn't asked what I did, or drove first thing after being introduced when there even was an intro. Usually you just started talking and then it occurred to you that you never got the other person's name. No stress. Nice change.
OK, so the Chicago Comic Con! I was checking out the website for some info on the convention etc. when I came across a headline that said 'Largest Gathering of Comic Artists at a Convention', and thought 'Oh, great, an ungodly amount of competition', in the sense that there's so much for the consumer to check out, not in the sense that there's that many UNIQUE artists. Which there weren't. As usual, half of it was complete crap, or some dimwit selling nothing but prints of their renditions of Spider Man, Batman, and other characters that they don't legally own, but will reap money off of until the cease and desist arrives. It astounds me how people can flock to those fakes and buy their shit. How many fucking posters of Wolverine looking pissed do you need? Get some class and learn to buy ART, not just a collection of prints that will sit in your closet and do nothing, or hang on your wall and keep you from getting laid...well, other than the fact that you don't shower and have a steady diet of Big Macs. Anyways, the first 'day', which was more like a preview night, was slooooooooooow. Just people walking buy and not buying. Not even talking. Met my neighbors Caleb and 'the other guy who was always late'--Very cool guys! They even brought me a couple bottles of beer on the last day. Friday was even more nerve racking as it took 4 hours into the show before I made my first sale. It wasn't the onslaught of people that Sat ended up being, but it was still steady enough to make me worry that I was going to bomb at this con if people didn't start stopping by the booth so I could intro them to intelligent art. Picked up though and ended up having a decent day. Sat felt like San Diego Con in how many people were there. Still took hours before the first sale, but ended up being a steady flow of sales after that. Gwen and Rachel were there, and Gwen got to meet the artist of the Sponge Bob and Dora books. $16 bucks later she had a Dora anthology signed and sketched in by the artist. Rachel actually got Gwen to fall asleep at the con by reading her a story. A first. Vincent gave us some towels that he uses to wrap his artwork up, and Gwen got a nice nap under the table. Sunday was great...steady sales most of the day, and met some people that really dug my stuff. Got to have some great conversations with them and made enough loot to make it to Baltimore and pay all those wonderful tolls!
I swear I was peeling off $1 bills faster than if I was at a strip club. Scary thought: the odd assortment of toll booth workers dancing on polls while you pay, wearing neon vests and g-strings, a neon sign in the shape of Indiana or Ohio hangs in the background, setting the mood lighting. The one I saw today could be rubbing her mole while asking if I wanted a receipt for tax purposes. Make it rain with the smell of Vanilla and rubber.
Ok, enough about making public servants table dance for us. It really is a trip to drive across the country. The expanse of land you'll see really puts into perspective just how fucking big this country is, and how fruitless it is for the enemies of our state to think that they could conquer it. Endless rows of corn, houses with back yards that, out in Ohio, are the same size as whole communities in San Diego. The miles and miles of road and small towns that you have to wonder about how they even survive in the first place. 93 Octane gas for $3.49 a gallon. Again, people who think we are running out of land, haven't been 100 miles inland from the coasts that millions of us call home and won't leave. We think that because 10 million people live on an island in New York that we are running out of land. Bullshit, you just don't want to live on a gorgeous property for cheap where you have to heat your house with propane, or deal with winter, or drive 20 miles to the nearest grocery store. Effortless comforts with the ocean as their backyards are the calls of the shoe leather skinned beach bums. Million dollar properties along the suicide carved cliffs of Big Sur, are the cries of the winemakers, their necks adorned with pale blue sweaters. The smiles of MId Westerners are bigger because they are probably laughing at the property taxes, or over inflated home values that West Coasters are paying. Maybe they are smiling because they have huge plots of land with trees their grandfather planted lining the front driveway, while New Yorkers can barely remember what cut grass smells like. They seem to be laughing at the extremes we'll go through to make ends meet to afford our 800 sq ft. condo in downtown San Diego, that you bought because the real estate agent sold you a line about a 'view', or how hip it was to live downtown and have your own parking spot several stories underground, or how close you are to the hundreds of bars and puking Saturday night zombies spilling out at 2am just below your window.
Anyways, here I sit in my Super 8 Motel room in the town of Wooster, knocking back my third PBR and typing away. It's nice to have a hot shower and sit in the quiet and the dark, collecting my thoughts and experiences. Need some food though, my stomach is eating itself alive, sending me messages that beer is not food contrary to current thought. I know I'm supposed to update this bastard on a daily basis, but who am I to follow some sort of sequential consistency. The journey is not a planned out episode, a sitcom of my life as an artist on the road trying to expand his career, so why should my blog be some forced daily blurb about the sites we've seen and the rest stops we've fouled. You will get when I'm ready but I appreciate the read. I've met so many wonderful people so far and this is just the tip of the iceberg. My birthday is on Sat, the 20th. I turn 35. Not feeling the age though, especially since I have a hot 25 yr. old wife sleeping in the bed next to me:) I'll spend my birthday at the Baltimore Comic Con spreading my artistic seed, and educating the people about art that has thought and research put into it. Introducing them to the wonders of texture and original thought. Giving them insight into why I would possibly take my family around the country on a grueling tour, in the hopes that at the end of this open ended, loosely planned journey with fear and joy battling it out at the comic cons and in the repair shops, I might actually find some solace and substantial success with my art and myself. Alright, time for bed...Grandma's house is next and I'm looking forward to a few days at an actual house to get some work done, as well as some prep for the Baltimore Comic Con, then next Tues it's off to the Identity Festival for a whirlwind 13 shows in 2.5 weeks. Talk soon!