On The Making of a Tribute Issue
Sitting here in my cluttered office, going thru junk and tossing away old stuff--yes, tossing away old stuff. Scraps of unfinished scribbles not worth keeping from a bad time in my life to a half-organized pile of old gems of unpublished and unfinished stories. The stories that sucked have been thrown away. The stories that didn't suck will still have to be rewritten. Bittersweet memories of old letters from Doug Smith, at his Army station in Maryland in 1982:
Hi there my babby sis. I finally got over that problem with ****, at least I think I did. But if I didn't what the HELL right. Princess, ya gotta do a favor for me ok!
We'd been Captain Space and Princess all through high school. We'd created a lot of stories in our heads, drawn down ideas, neither one of us quite knew what to do to make the series a reality. I'd tried continuing our comic adventures with the sci fi series after he went to Basic, but it wasn't really the same. I recall I was working on this very page when I got that letter from him. He was telling me about his girl troubles again, and it would not be long before I introduced him to my cousin Donita, and that would be that.
I would later send a submission of my work in 1983 to DC Comics, and got the dream deferred with this polite and helpful letter from Sal Amendola, then the Talent Co-ordinator at DC. He gave me a stack of drawing guides, with human dimensions, proportions, camera angles, lighting, shading, which, even though tattered and brown around the edges, I have to this day.
Many of you have asked, especially during the days when I was doing House of the Muses, since I was such a good artist, why do my comics in 3D? Why didn't I keep plugging away at DC and get myself a career there? Why did I wait nearly 30 years before I got my own comics in the spotlight? Our comic--and my life--never did take off in the fashion that I had wanted it to. In 1984 I married a very abusive man who'd seemed to be ok at first with the shy, insecure kid that I was, but the minute he got the ring on my finger, all bets were off.
Looking over this stack of old junk, it becomes tragically apparent that my illustration skills from 1984-1991--the duration of the time I spent married to The Beast--grew progressively worse...and worse...and worse. I was never able to finish anything. What remains, I would be ashamed to show anybody. My most exquisite pieces of art--like the page I'd recreated in my own pencils from George Perez' Wonder Woman #1, which was rebooted in 1987: ripped in half. Destroyed in a fit of anger, right before I was kicked and punched across the room. I cannot find the pieces of the original, all I have is a faint photocopy of it. Comic legend Dick Giordano had been to our comic shop in Bowling Green for a talent search and had seen it earlier that day, you see, and he had heartily encouraged me to submit more work to DC. With the prize pages gone, so went my hope, and Dick Giordano would never receive my submission.
I got my feet under me a few years later, and in 2007 House of the Muses was born. Not long after that, I talked over my dusty ideas with another old classmate, Steve Stanley, and A Deviant Mind breathed into life at last. Upon the third issue, when I took the scraps and scribbles and brought Tayge and Lucky to life in 3D, the story clicked at long last. And you know the rest.
But I can't honestly say, looking over this remaining pile of junk, that my life has not gone the way that it should have. I met the girl of my dreams, too. Our son Alex is the best thing that came out of that marriage; he is a constant source of pride and joy to us, and inspiration to me. And the kid can write!!! Had I taken a different turn on my path, Alex would not have been there to write the awesome A Deviant Mind #12: Gothika! for us. And he's currently writing a new issue, too. There are only a handful of people who will get this cover, but just in case the main one sees it, it's not a malicious dig. It's a hope for moving on, and better and bigger things to come.
Another odd thing I just noticed in this pile, an old letter of reference from a friend of mine from the mid 90s, once we'd gotten to know one another awhile they wrote it for me--and I gaped in horror at the letter, thinking at first, 'You can't put that in a letter of reference!'--as I read down, I saw the sentence, "I admire Pam's durability."
And so there we are. I miss Doug and Donita a lot sometimes. Sometimes it hits me again that they are gone, and the tears come. I roll my eyes, tilt my head back and sigh, and try to make it stop. But the love for them is still there. The knowledge that the two of them loved us so much is still there. And because of the love, and because of all our love for a good story, A Deviant Mind is still here.
"Ya gotta do this for me, Princess!"
Consider it done, Captain. Let the adventures continue.