Letters to Holly

Thursday, June 26

Back Home

We put Louis to rest yesterday. He had traded his grave for a mausoleum recently, and the funeral was held in the interior chapel. Thankfully, it was air-conditioned. That chapel contains the urn of my high-school friend who died of AIDS 13 years ago. I didn't know he was there until I found his urn. I think he's next to his dad, who died in May.

The visitation on Tuesday night was in the same funeral-home room as Dad's, and I found myself standing in the exact same spot for three hours as we welcomed the mourners. No time could have passed at all. The only difference was that Louis was in the coffin instead of standing to my left. Your Sis drove down to make sure Mom and I had supper, and she drove back up the mountain that same night. She's insane and wonderful.

Mom is OK. I think she's mad at Louis, as I am. I'll go back Saturday to help her clean his house. I drove back home yesterday and barely slept last night. I'm exhausted. I'm afraid to drink coffee lest I become a jittery zombie. We saw Dad's grave as we left the cemetery.

Picture of the Day
No pictures please.

Tuesday, June 24


The visitation and funeral for Louis are today and tomorrow, and I'm exhausted just thinking about them. of course Mom has to deal with all this. She sounds OK, and she says she's surprised she has no tears. I think she's out of them. She says she doesn't cry about dad anymore, and that's good. They had prepared for his death since January. Louis has planned for his for about ten years, but it happened because he rejected the rehab. The oldest and youngest of the Clardy children are the only ones left out of five. It's Mom and Uncle Don.

I drive down this afternoon and come back Wednesday night. My suit still has the dry-cleaning tags following Dad's funeral. Your Sister and Parents will stay in North Carolina. The latter only met Louis at the funeral. Your Sister met him last year, and he was awfully sweet on her. Louis was a man with a broken heart and a sad knowledge of himself. He needed a woman like her to clean up his act but knew he couldn't keep her around.

The best thing I can possibly do for mom is to keep breathing.

Picture of the Day
Diving in.

Monday, June 23

Well, That Was A Weekend

We left Asheville early on Friday and arrived at Susan's around, um, 7ish? I can't remember. That sounds right. We thought we'd arrive much later, but I got away from work around 3. Susan's house is brilliant. I want one just like it -- the screened-in porch, the stairs, the shower and bath, the fireplace. Our house is a humble abode compared to hers and Your Brothers. But for the two of us, it's the right size. We'd waste more space if we had it.

Because we arrived in the evening, we could take Susan out to dinner, and she chose a seafood joint near Duke called Charlie's Garage. They offered three specials, and we ordered one of each and swapped dishes throughout the meal. We slept upstairs under open windows.

We woke up around 7:30 to get to Chapel Hill for the "Adventurs in Ideas" seminar on American Satire. The symposium wasn't at the campus at all but at some Leadership Campus a short way up 501 from the main UNC cluster. We got free food throughout the day and each lecturer spoke for about an hour:

Mark Twain -- a review of the pre-seminar assigned readings, unfortunately. We didn't learn much more about Twain than what we were give to read.

H.L. Mencken -- the Baltimore curmodgeon. This was a better presentation and a full biography.

Lunch happened her, and the two of use stumbled into a conversation on sitcoms and politics with a UNC professor emeritus of history, Peter Finele. Then he spoke on sitcom TV and cultural commentary.

The Daily Show -- an examination of political journalism and satire. This had lots of clips from the shows. A panel followed that wandered away from humor and into political discourse. But the whole event was a nice classroom experience with Your Sis. We haven't been in a class together before.

We drove throw a torrential torrent of torrenty rain before eatina Italian. Susan opted to stay home.

Sunday morning, mom called to say that she had found my uncle Louis dead. This was her brother who walked out of rehab after knee surgery. Susan said almost immediately that a clot could have killed him, and Mom confirmed it later that night when I talked to her at legnth. Four weeks to teh day that Dad dies, we lose Louis. But Louis, as examplified by his rehab behavior, did not take care of himself. I'm unabashedly angry at him. Instead of taking steps to really clean himself up, he handed ownership of all his materials to Mom within the last three years. He drove away prospective wives and crashed through his last years and the various debilitations.

As a result, he practically designed it so Mom would have to break into his house to find his body. And that's what happened. She wasn't alone, thankfully, but she knew before she got to his house that this was the likley conclusion. Louis was yher closest brother; they were the babies of the family. Louis was the class closn, the life of the party, the bigot joke-teller, and the messy bachelor. Mom was shocked by the pills and alchohol she found in his house, and she was a frequent vistor. They had supper together just a few weeks back. They talked on the pohone regularly. His latest girl pal was hysteriacl; she had no idea he would treat himself this way. He might have overdosed. he might have mixed the wrong elements. But the coroner was satisifed with Louis's medical history (long, storied) and recent operation to label him a death by stroke.

Mom is meeting with teh funeral home today (the same we went to for Dad's funeral) , and I'll hear the plans sometime before tonight. She said I don't need to drive down yet, but I'll got for the likely Wednesday and Thursday combo of services. This is going to be a seeming repeat of what we went through for Dad. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. i can't imagine what Mom is feeling. And that makes me mad at Louis again for doing this to her.

We had planend to attend the Charlotte comic show Sunday before we heard the news, and we went. If I'm facing another week attending to Mom, I wanted to get one day of escapism. So here's what happened:

This was by far my best con experience. The stereotype of the typical con attendee is officially deflated; not only did I see families of all age ranges stroll around, but I saw packs of roaming college gals. HeroesCon is the Guitar Hero of conventions. Everyone comes to play.

She had not been to this before, and she appreciated the relative tranquility of the event compared to DragonCon. We strolled through the vendor tables first, where we picked up the Ringo "What If" book at the Heroes Initiative table [10]. Mike Weiringo, nice guy and good artists, died last year of a heart attack, and a scholarship has been established his his name at the Savannah College of Art and Design. This book is part of a fund-raiser for the scholarship.

She was stunned by the bootleg DVDs on sale and wondered how anyone keeps from getting arrested. We found a booth selling GI Joe figures, and she was temporarily mesmerized by them. We also decided she could easily be Lady Jaye at DragonCon (green jumpsuit, basbeball cap, boots). I found a classic Destro figure and the new Torpedo figure [4]. They also had the Star Wars figures based on Ralph McQuarrie's original designs, and she almost bought a few.

We found a booth selling stuffed microbe toys, and she bought one [5].

We ate paninis before hitting the artists tables. We used a chart created by an online acquaintance to find other online buddies. First up, we met Jeremy, from whom we bought a sketchbook that he was nice enough to sign [7]. In retrospect, I should have bought a GI Joe page (he did the issues packaged in two-figure packs).

We swung around to to the other side of the con floor and found Visible Light Comics selling their Beowulf title, and shw bought one [3]. She would have bought the t-shirt based on a comic panel to wear in her classroom, but it had the word "hell" on it, and that wouldn't fly at her school.

Next we found Kody Chamberlain, and I went gag-ga over his collage comic, Punks. I bought two issues, and he handed us a sketchbook [12] while showing us his original art pages and discussing his technique. We then found the Mike Oeming/Taki Soma table, and I finally got to meet Taki. They handed us a teaser image of an upcoming project [11].

I bought four minicomics ([8] 50 cents each!) from Roger Landridge (originally from New Zealand, now living in England). I almost walked right by Jim Rugg's table, but I specifically wanted the Afrodesiac mini (Medusa: Why aren't you turning to stone? Afro: Because I'm already rock hard, baby!), and I believe I bought the last one. I also got an impressive newsprint broadsheet comic he made and a copy of The Plan Janes [6], a comic geared toward teen girl readers.

Nice guy, but he was catching shit from Evan Dorkin (one of my heroes) about drinking at the show. And kicking his baby. And spitting on the floor. He then threatened to beat him in a Texas Death Match and rub his broken NWA title belt into Rugg's face. He wouldn't let up, and Rugg was too flummoxed to respond. So, my wife -- Your Sister, my delicate flower, my schoolmarm -- gave Dorkin shit, claiming a con rumor said he was charging for signatures and signing with invisible ink. Dorkin was stunned before she confessed she was joking. Then we chatted about Jack Kirby comics and gas prices. I got a signed copy of Biff-Bam-Pow [14], a comic created with his wife and fellow artist Sara Dyer.

We then found the Oni Comics table, and I bought the third and fourth volumes of fantastic comic Scott Pilgrim [2], and the artist was nice enough to sign my books, complete with a stellar sketch.

I offered to pay for it, and he would have none of it.

After meeting up with my ECU buddy Mark, we went back to the Oni table, met another online guy, and Mark sold me on Black Metal [9]. The Oni guy then asked Your Sister and I to get to it signed by the writer and give him shit about the upcoming volume two.

As we strolled the very back of the artists alley, we found the creators of Perry Bible Fellowship and Wondermark, the Victorian clip-art strip. I bought the new Wonder Mark collection [13], and the creator asked us to put up a review at Amazon after reading it.

As the con wound down, we hit the vendors for some deals, and I got the Promethea figure set for $5 [1]. It's the toy based on a comic of a literature-based Wonder Woman. And then we went home.

We saw costumes through the day, and here's the best of the lot.

This is a guy from my hometown comic store.

Spidey will save the day when he feels like it.

I should also mention Your Sister's revulsion for animal mascots. Streaky the Super Cat? Beppo the Super Monkey? Krypto? Ace the Bat-hound? She saw the various toys and was tempted to destroy them with her Swinging Backpack of Intellectual Superiority.

I found an original comic page of Spider-Man against sewer-dwelling monkeys wearing gangsta bling, and she almost vomited on it.

She kept asking "why?" and I kept saying "why NOT?"

When we got home, I called Mom for details, and she sounded OK. I'll see her in a few days, and we'll get her through this.

And then I found out George Carlin died, and that just drops me down another rung on the ladder of dazed exhaustion.

EDIT: I forgot to mention, I talked to the publisher of my minicomic and some anthologies my work appeared in. I was bummed about being left out of this year's theme-book (cavepeople), but he said the book was a mess to organize, and he'd be sure to contact me about the next book. That was a big relief. I thought I had lost favor somehow.