I’m back in Madison, now.

I was in London, at my sister’s place, for the last couple of weeks, getting Massive Amounts of Work Done.

I saw some friends, but didn’t tell most I was even there, for which I am sorry. My excuse: this trip was about getting, as I noted, Massive Amounts of Work Done. So at best, I could be seen at the British Museum Great Court, say, or the Old Thameside Inn, in Southwark, hunched over sheafs and sheafs of drawings.

Still, it worked. And some deadlines were made that I had no right of making, given the Perfect Storm of Deadlines I’d mentioned finding myself in the middle of.

To that end, Dork Tower #31 and Dr. Blink #2 are shipping from the printer next week.

New online comics also return next week. Huzzah, huzzah!

****

Off to a good friend’s wedding now. Then up to CONvergence, where I’ll be on at least two, and possibly three, panels:

Saturday 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Atrium 8
Dr Blink
Discuss the comic book shrink with his creative team.
Christopher Jones, Melissa Kaercher, John Kovalic

Sunday 11:00am – 12:00pm
Plaza 1
Iron Artist
Get ready to do Artistic Battle!
Chris Bowlsby, Zander Cannon, Kelvin Hatle, Eryn Hildebrand, Christopher Jones, Melissa Kaercher, Perrin Klumpp, John Kovalic, Matt Waterhouse

And, possibly this (though The Lovely and Talented Judith and I may have to leave for Madison, due to a lack of a cat-sitter with feline I.V. credentials):

Sunday 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Atrium 2
Gaming Then And Now
Do you remember when Dungeons and Dragons wasn’t advanced and came in a little white box? Come discuss gaming over the years.
Larry Dixon, Ed Eastman, Paul Fischer, John Kovalic

CONvergence actually starts today. And if you’re missing this con, you’re missing one of the greats. This is my only con for the summer, as I need to concentrate and get ahead of the game on these deadlines. But even beyond that, CONvergence is just fantastic. I’ve nevere seen a con quite like it, and I’;m very glad to be going back, if only for a couple of days…

I’m just sayin’, is all.

****

While in England, btw (as opposed to BTO, I suppose) I changed the covers for Dork Tower #31 and 32, from what was solicited. And I’m very, very happy with the new covers, and how they nopw relate far more closely to the moods of the books:

****

I’ve been invited to the Lucca Comics and Game festival in Italy, this Autumn. And I’m happy to say I’ve accepted the invitation.

My family used to live near Milan when my dad was in International Business. It’s been far, far too many years since I’ve been back, and I’m looking forward to this tremendously.

More info soon.

****

Art for Munchkin Bites II: Pants Macabre is also now done. A week before deadline. On a personal note, I’m tremendously happy with this set.

So, with some huge, important deadlines behind me (but still much work to be done), The Lovely and Talented Judith and I and some friends took in a Madison Mallards game last night (go, Mallards!). As did about 6,500 other fans (go, Mallards!) The game was a blowout (go, Mallards!), and the evening was perfect (go, Mallards!) I felt as if some huge weights had been lifted: this may perhaps have been my first carefree moment in months (go, Mallards!)

Mallards games are terrific, punctuated with many between-inning promos and general silliness. It is minor league baseball at its best, and it’s a huge reason why I just don’t give a rip about much of major league baseball anymore (curse you, Chicago Cubs, for making me still care at ALL about the majors! CURSE YOU! Oh…hold on…).

Now, around the seventh inning of Mallards games, a “Name That Tune” kinda quiz is held in the stands. One of the PR dudes from the team wanders a section with a microphone, and the first person to name the song the PA system plays wins…well, not much, really. A Newcastle Brown Ale cap.

It’s spiffy, don’t get me wrong. But it’s mostly the bragging rights, is the thing.

Before we go any further, go back up and take a good, long look at the cover of Dork Tower #31 again. You know. The one, just two hours before, I had to re-send to Quebecor, because the proofs they sent me contained the old cover? Yeah. THAT one. So go. Look. Don’t worry – we’ll be here when you return.

Humm humm hummmm….

OK. So. Middle of the seventh inning. I’ve got a beer in me. I’ve got my free (to the first 500 fans, ages 21 and older) Madison Mallards cooler by my side. The Mallards are winning something like 10-0 at this point, and the evening’s gentle breeze is blowing in from center field like a salve to the soul.

…and I notice Mr. PR Guy three rows in front of me, with a microphone.

“…here in Section C,” he is saying. “So the first person who can recognize the song that’s playing, wins…”

And the music starts. And the lyrics blast over Warner Park.

We’ll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone…

I look around. Nobody is shouting anything out. I’m stunned.

“The Who!” I find myself yelling, in spite of myself. “The bloody Who!”

Now, know this about me: I became a cartoonist to basically hide behind a drawing table. I get stage fright at public appearances. Sometimes, the thought of doing signings makes me nervous, sweaty and and shaky. I don’t do well in front of crowds, and my natural instinct is to cower.

It’s what I’m good at. You gotta do what you’re good at.

Yet here I am, at a packed minor league ballpark, yelling “The WHO! The WHO!” for no very good reason.

“We have the Who,” shouts Mr. PR Guy into the microphone, walking towards me. “Now, what’s the song?”

And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

What’s the song? WHAT’S THE SONG? For heavens sake, EVERYBODY know this song, it’s…

…it’s…

And THAT is the point where my mind goes blank.

Utterly, terrifyingly blank.

A point, I haten to add, my mind has been at many times. Yet never in front of the better part of 6,500 people.

There is a reason some people never dream of being on Quiz Shows. It is much the same reason that some people never dream of being eaten alive. But here I am, with Mr. PR Guy moving inexorably towards me, and I suddenly can’t remember the name of the single most famous Who song Pete Townsend ever penned.

What seemed like hours followed, as Mr. PR Guy (and indeed, every person in Warner Park) appeared to revert to Bullet Time.

Seconds certainly seem like minutes, yet with all those many, many pseudo-minutes dancing in super slow-mo like evil tiny elves, NOTHING is coming to mind.

Mr. PR Guy reaches me.

Something inside me – purely involuntary, I assure you – forces me to scream out “Won’t Get Fooled Again!”

I believe the answer came from my spleen. It certainly didn’t come from my brain, which had shifted solidly into “Reverse” by this point in time.

“What was that?” said Mr. PR Guy, thrusting the mike into my face.

“Won’t Get Fooled Again,” I shouted, expecting him to yell out “WRONG, Loser! It’s “Bubba McRatty”! Doesn’t EVERYBODY know the name of the farking song is “Bubba McRatty”? GOD, what a moron! THROW HIM FROM THE PARK! PHYSICALLY!”

Instead, he simply asks “…and your name is?”

“JOHN!” screams my spleen. “Your farking name is JOHN!”

“Uh…John…” I mumble into the mike, as, apparently, some people in the crowd thought this a fact worth cheering.

And in a second, Mr. PR Guy is gone. My friend Scott is high-fiving me the way people in ballparks do, and any five year-olds I have knocked down by this point have probably picked themselves back up.

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray

It’s a nice Newcastle Brown Ale cap. It really is.

I gave it to my friend Dory.

I think she wanted it.

Anyway, I already have lots of caps.

****

By the way, if anybody can snag me a Mallards Walker Sunday, I’d be ever so grateful…and swap some art or books or something in gratitude…

****

Have fun at Origins, everybody! And BIG CHEERS to Pyramid Magazine and especially editor Steven Marsh for snagging the Origins Award for “Best Nonfiction Publication.”

For those of you in the US, happy Independence Day weekend.

And for those of you in England, happy “Thank God We Got Rid Of Them” Day weekend!

John

<p

This entry was posted in Muskrat Ramblings. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.