Web Search nikon coolpix digital cameras The Miserable Annals of the Earth: On Meth

Monday, November 27, 2006

On Meth

So, after Elayne Riggs pointed out that Clifford Meth was actually someone besides a friend of the Cockrum family, in my last entry (it's odd how Elayne only de-lurks long enough to point out yet another way she has perceived that I've put my foot in something rank and odorous, either here or over on my poli-blog, but still, I say good business is where you find it, and thanks, Elayne, for taking on the arduous task of being my personal Egon), I did a bit of research on Mr. Meth.

I'm not going to pass judgment on some guy I've never met, whose work I've never read anything of, based on a couple of columns, a Wikipedia entry, and several interviews of him I've read. Or, at least, I'm not going to state my judgment in print.

However, if I were going to, well, I'd probably based whatever opinions I stated pretty heavily on a couple of quotes I've pulled from said interviews:

Here we have one of the stated interview with Mr. Meth, and in it, we find the following exchange:

McCaw: With all these excellent comic book artists illustrating your stories, why aren't you writing, comic book stories rather than illustrated fiction? Or is that a euphemism?

Meth: I love comics -- the industry, fandom -- and I collect artist friends like others collect comics, but I've always considered myself a real writer, if you'll excuse the expression. I don't write specifically for a visual medium. I write stories you can read without visual aids.

McCaw: You consider yourself a real writer, yet are eager for film optioning. Does that conflict in any way? Or do you plan on adapting yourself to the screen?

Meth: I don't see a conflict. I learned to write short stories by reading the great science fiction masters. They'd be the first to tell you that options give you the money -- and thus the time -- to pursue serious projects. Of course, I'd rather do the screenplays myself, and suspect I might get the opportunity. I've spent the last 18 months working on film projects and just finished a stint working with Peter David on Gene Roddenberry's "Starpoint Academy" for IDT Entertainment. I've also adapted Dave Cockrum's Futurians for the screen, also for IDT.

Um... yeah. Knows all these wonderful comics artists, but doesn't write comics because he considers himself a 'real' writer, who writes stories that 'don't need visual aids'. But writing for the movies is okay, because, you know, it pays well.

And then there's this, from yet another interview:

NRAMA: There is something a little different about this book too, it’s got an unconditional money back guarantee. Who came up with this idea?

Meth: Jim Reeber, who owns Aardwolf Publishing. From day one, he’s been in my corner and has had more faith in my career than I’ve had. He suggested the money-back guarantee as a vote of confidence on my last book, God’s 15 Minutes. As far as I know, not a single book was returned.

NRAMA: For the publisher this is really a losing proposition, since the distributor and retailer each get a percentage. Aardwolf is really going to give back more money then they receive for the book?

Meth: The guarantee is for books bought directly through Aardwolf. I don’t believe that arrangement was made with Diamond, although I do know that smaller distributors like Bud Plant Comic Art have special arrangements with Jim. Shocklines also lists the book as a guaranteed good read.

Now, one of the things I came across as I researched Mr. Meth was this notion that all his published books (which mostly seem to be published through his own publishing company, but what the hell) come with a money back guarantee. I thought this was a pretty cool idea. But, wellllll... apparently that money back guarantee only actually applies in certain very limited, very specific circumstances.

Not passing judgment. Probably a helluva swell fella, our Cliff Meth. And he doubtless has had more experience with Dave Cockrum than I have, and as far as that goes, Dave could well have changed enormously in the twenty something years that have passed since I interacted with him briefly back in the 1980s.

But... yes, as always, Elayne is most correct. Mr. Meth seems to be a well and widely known person in the comic book medium, and I doubtless should have known this. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

In the end, though, Mr. Dave Cockrum is still dead, and whether Mr. Meth's description of him is more correct than my own experiences with him lead me to believe, it matters not. Mr. Cockrum was a fabulous artist and a wonderfully talented creator and the realm of comics is lessened without him, and I am personally saddened that he is gone.


At 2:36 PM , Blogger Elayne said...

Oh come on Darren, I'm not a lurker. I read your blog regularly via Bloglines, and comment when I see something on which I want to comment. If a discussion starts I have no way of knowing about it because I usually don't go back to blogs to follow discussions. I can't, I don't have the time. I think your definition of "lurker" may be significantly different than mine. And I swear I don't come on here with the deliberate purpose of criticizing you! My intention here was solely to give you a heads-up about Cliff, as he's - as I said - fairly well-known in comics.

Cliff's prone to name-dropping (and yes, he can be a bit of a finagler) but overall he's a real mensch. He's the only other person I know who goes back as far as I do with the late great Bill-Dale Marcinko, my best friend from college whom I think you would have liked a lot, and when Billy died I think Cliff and I had about a dozen weepy phone conversations about it. He's also been the catalyst for lots of good-cause books in which my husband has been privileged to be among the participants (most of the folks contributing to those books are far bigger names than Robin!).

Cliff and lots of others, including me, are still reeling over Dave's death. He looked really wan when I visited him at the VA hospital three years ago, but I was under the impression he'd been getting better under Paty's care once they moved down South. I think a number of other people also had that impression, since the industry shock is quite palpable.

At 3:17 PM , Blogger Highlander said...

Elayne --

More or less in order, or not, as I can manage when I'm overly caffeinated, still tired regardless, and doing this between calls --

I'm happy you read my blog regularly. Honestly. As to whether you 'delurk' or not when you post your very occasional comments, well, I guess that's subjective, and I type the text around here, so I guess we'll have to put up with my subjectivism. Or something. I meant no offense, but I'm wearily aware at this point in my life that that hardly means I won't give any. Caveat emptor, and the only emptor is the emptor of ice cream. Something like that.

In all seriousness, I do appreciate your occasional comments, even if you do generally seem to be addressing me much the same way Andy Sipowicz once typefied as 'talking to me like I'm Timmy the laundry boy'.

As to Mr. Meth, he is who he is. You prompted me to find out a little more about him, I thought what I found out was interesting, I posted it. I'm sincerely happy you have such a good friend. He strikes me as someone who may often be misinterpreted, and to that extent, he and I have something in common, but, still, I'm not sure it's wise to talk to an audience of comics fanboys and say something like "I don't write for comics because I consider myself to be a real writer". But perhaps that's just me. Being just me, I can say that if I had a rolodex full of brilliant comics artists who were inclined to like me, I certainly wouldn't waste the opportunity, and if I did, I wouldn't give myself airs about it, and if I were inclined to do both things, I then certainly wouldn't turn around and say "But, on the other hand, I'll happily write screenplays because, you know, the money is so good".

It's not that this last, especially, is unreasonable, and part of me applauds his brutal honesty. But the first part strikes me as massively disrespectful to the art form that apparently supports him in large part, and if I were going to venture a further opinion on that, I suspect it would be something along the lines of, well, Mr. Meth can strap on a jetpack, rocket into the stratsophere, and there indulge in a high altitude, peak velocity attempt at FUCKING himself. But I'm trying to be slightly more civil in my dotage, so I'll refrain from doing any such thing.

On Mr. Cockrum -- I did not have a overwhelmingly pleasant personal experience with him when I met him, and the impression I gained of his character and behavior in no way matched Mr. Meth's description of same. Maybe Mr. Cockrum changed in the last 20 years. Maybe Mr. Cockrum was having a crappy day when I met him. Maybe I'm an asshole -- well, no, I certainly am an asshole, just as we all are, at some time and in some way from some point of view.

I suppose it's also possible that Mr. Meth may have a subjective POV of someone he considered to be a friend, and he could even have been doing that thing we are all supposed to do, and speaking well of the dead. I tend not to do that; I think truth and honesty are virtues regardless of their subject's relative body temperature... but I realize that's a controversial opinion; God knows I got plenty of shit when I described my actual experiences with Carol Kalish, post mortem.

Regardless of all this, I deeply admired Mr. Cockrum's work and having actually met him once in person, I feel his loss even more keenly than I otherwise would.

I hope that's okay. And I deeply appreciate what must be the longest comment to date you've chosen to leave on my blog. And I sincerely hope that, the next time you update your links list, you may see fit to grant a line to yours truly. Although, if not, I'll certainly understand.


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