Incident At: The Video Store
Click for larger image and this unpleasant episode from my past will be readable.
I did a lot of black and white illustrations for small press and zines (more about zines in a future post) in the 90's, and I had a lot of fun doing it. They usually didn't pay much, or anything (though you usually got a few copies of the issue your work appeared in), but that's understood when the publications are barely breaking even - or not even doing that. In return, you were given plenty of latitude in the work you were providing, if not full creative control. When you're starting to do illustration work commercially, that's a fair trade.
I did the piece above in 1995, after a somewhat depressing experience renting videos on a Saturday Night at Tower Records in my lonely single days. Man, I was lame. I drew the comic the night it happened, as I was watching whatever movie I'd rented, and inked it the next day. It looks a little rough, but hey - so was the incident itself. I don't believe I'd planned to try to get it published anywhere, but at the time I knew a guy named Brandon Stusoy, who published a great personal zine called Whitebread - that's where this comic eventually appeared.
The panel containing the core incident -
female anatomy contacting my shoulder
I think I mentioned the fact that I'd drawn a few black and white single-page comics to Brandon, and he asked me if I'd send him some samples. I did, and this was the one he really related to. Whitebread was full of very candid stories from his personal life, often painful and embarrassing - so "Incident At: The Video Store" seemed to be a perfect fit for him. He asked if the piece had been published anywhere, I said "nope" and he asked if he could use it in Whitebread. I agreed - why not? I was fairly immune to humiliation at this point, and having others share my pain was always a nice way of diluting it.
I notice now that the "Incident At:" portion of the title seems to have been left open-ended on purpose - from what I remember, I was trying to give myself a chance to build a series of these comics of unpleasant personal encounters for the future. Never happened - though this was probably the seed of what would (and still will) become It Must Be Me, my book about the many weird encounters I've had in life. Though I didn't know it at the time, this video store incident was, unfortunately, only the beginning.