Saturday, November 21, 2009

3 Emails of Interest.

Email number one

Hi Larry--
Congratulations on the imminent birth of volume III. I can't wait to see the seasonal big-big clock tick one closer to the apocalyptic "boogie woogie beantown" you teased us once back in one of the old letter columns -- the one where everybody was zipping around the city on float-powered skateboards.
I'm writing because I just got myself appointed volunteer webmaster over at the Marcel Duchamp journal. I know you've often mentioned his influence on your work but have yet to see anything really substantive on the family resemblance. Do you know of anyone who's researched this who might like to submit an article for us? You of course are always more than welcome to contribute, but I know your time is tightly allocated.
Thanks for all the years of beanishness,

Robert Scott Martin

Well this is rather exciting news, Robert!
In the presentation I give from time to time, I talk extensively and specifically about the influence Duchamp had on me and how it shows up odd ways in Beanworld. But that talk has never been published and although it has been taped, as far as I know, it's never shown up on YouTube or anything like that. Next year is the 25th anniversary of the publication of Beanworld #1 and I'm sure I'll be giving the talk again at various times and places.

For now, the above is part of an " interview" I did in 1992. I can't remember where it was published but the entire piece can be seen here.

I have a feeling when time allows, I'll contribute something to

And quite possibly someone from the Beanworld community might feel inspired to do so sooner than me.

My biggest priority for next year is going to be...oh wait....I'll put that news in my New Years post.
So that will ave to wait for now.

For now....let's move on to email number two

You and I have "met" though we've never actually met.

That is to say, there are two different anecdotes that, once I relate them, MAY make you think to yourself, "Oh yeah... I remember that guy." "

Meeting" One - Fall '92 - My then finace, Kimberly, calls Beanworld Press from our apartment in Seattle and she is pleasantly surprised to find "Mrs. Larry Marder" on the other end of the line. She explains that her fiance (aka me) is a huge Beanworld fan and that she'd like to purchase a hardcover edition of Volume One (Eclipse ed.) as a gift for me. Cory is such a warm presence on the phone that they get to talking and Kimberly mentions that we're expecting.

Now, we were very poor at the time and my birthday is a scant 7 days before Christmas, so I was only going to get one combined birthday/Christmas present. I was ecstatic when I tore open the paper to expose a beautiful hardcover edition of my favorite comic with not only a signed/numbered sketchplate, but an additional drawing of a baby bean labled "Geoffrey, Good luck with your own Lil' Cutie! Larry". My daughter, Aubriana, is now 16 and for as long as she can remember she has known that there is a special drawing of Aubri-as-a-bean in the Beanworld book that she and her daddy read together.

"Meeting" Two - Summer-ish 1997 - I'm working as a Flash programmer at a PR firm in Washington, DC. The fact that we take on clients like Philip Morris is making me a little more nauseous every day. I am bored at work and surfing the net. I either stumble upon or re-stumble upon BeanWeb. I happen to make a connection between one of its sections, "Science = Magic?", and a phone conversation I'd recently had with my brother about Arthur C. Clarke, and was inspired enough to drop Mark Irons a note. He replied, requesting my permission to publish a portion of my e-mail on the site. Flattered, I agree and since that day, whenever I Google myself, my name comes up in conjunction with a site that is a resounding tribute to my favorite comic book of all time.

Either of those ring a bell? If not... Hi Larry! I'm Geoffrey Hawley and I've loved your leguminous creation(s) since issue 10 of Tales of the Beanworld hit the stands at Zanadu Comics (Seattle). I began voraciously hunting down the nine I had missed. Around this time, I had another goal: filling in the gaps in my Flaming Carrot collection. These quests, combined, had me visiting every comics shop in the metro-Seattle area. The majority were little hole-in-the-wall "We've got BOTH kinds of comics! X-Men with Cover 1 AND X-Men with Cover 2" kinds of comic shops. As you can probably imagine, the person behind the counter looked at the 20-yr-old asking for "Beanworld" and "Flaming Carrot" and saw an escapee from the psych ward... who happened to be a vegetarian.

Larry, your creation exploded into my head like few others have. You are in the same league as Moebius, Jack Kirby, Bob Burden, Winsor McCay, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, Jason, Chester Brown, Mike Mignola, Paul Chadwick, and Mike Allred in my estimation. I am currently attending college to be an elementary school teacher and recently learned the term "mentor book(s)". These are the books that writers find that they return to again and again - a well from which it would be impossible to dip too many times. For me those mentor books (and two films) are:

-McCloud's "Understanding Comics"
-Burton/Selick's"Nightmare Before Christmas"

-Luigi Serafini's "Codex Seraphinianus"

-Don Hertzfeldt's "The Meaning of Life"

and -Larry Marder's "Tales of the Beanworld".

Beanworld and "Understanding Comics," in particular, shaped not only my tastes as a comic book enthusiast, but every piece I've concocted since my exposure. They had a lasting impact on not only my artistic vocabulary (the shapes and lines I use to compose my pictures), but on my perception of art in general. Issue 4, "Beanish Breaks Out", is such a compact representation of my career aspirations. I long to produce art and have the community as a whole say "Yeah! We dig your artistic creations! Come and absorb vitamins & nutrients thru' your head. Soak trace minerals thru' your feet." Artists as a whole share a lifelong empathy with Beanish as we nervously ponder, "Are they rejecting my break out? ...gosh... Am I gonna have to return to a life of chow sol'jering?" Your elegant depiction of complex, important topics (like anthropology, the benefits and pitfalls of scientific R&D, and ecology's tenuous balance) with simple drawings and whimsical language are an inspiration to me on several levels both artistic and in matters of social conscience.

But let me give you a little more of my history with your beans: During my early 20s in Seattle, one of my dearest friends was Rich Goodwin. I introduced him to Beanworld and he was hooked. Rich had a huge impact on my sense of humor and often undertook Andy Kaufman-esque public pranks by enticing his friends to say and do bizarre things as we walked the hills of the various areas of early 90s Seattle. An exercise that Rich and I would do often was to ride on a public bus within which he would quiz me on all things Beanworld - "What is gunk'l'dunk?", "What are the four realities?", "Where did Mr. Spook get his trusty fork?" - and each time I would answer correctly. Both of us used voices loud enough that we were certain we could be overheard by those in our immediate vicinity. It gave us hours of amusement to have drawn-out conversations using as many Beanworld-specific words and phrases as possible knowing that those around us had no idea what we were talking about but that this bizarre topic had an undeniable inner-consistency.

Does that make any sense? It did to us, and it was a great source of amusement for us. In my mid-20s, I lived in Colorado Springs and got involved with an esoteric theater troupe. Those were vibrant, heady times with all-night conversations about cosmology, the Persian Gulf War (conducted by Bush the senior), Tom Waits, and Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Several of these friends of mine were open-minded enough about art that I could convince them to try some of my less-mainstream comics. Beanworld was a stand out. Everyone loved it. We talked about it whenever we gathered. Later many of us decided to rent a house together. We wanted this to be like a commune with all of us pitching in on everything and sharing everything. Without even a formal discussion, it just came to be known as "Beanworld." To this day whenever I'm in Colorado Springs, I'll usually run into someone from back then and they'll say, "Remember that time up at Beanworld when you and Raven drew on that huge piece of paper together for like twelve straight hours?" or the conga sessions or the hikes by moonlight on mountain trails. My attic room at "Beanworld" was festooned with huge copier blow-ups of panels from various B&W comics.

Some of yours that I distinctly remember were:

"Infesticate? Ya? Ya!" and "One eyeblink later" from pages 13 and 22 of issue 2

"So Mr. Spook explained." from page 9 of issue 3 "Looks good! Feels good! Sounds good!" and "I don't feel like doing anything." from pages 12 and 17 of issue 4

"It's true! My fork has an alien origin!" from page 15 of issue 5

"Hoka-Hoka-Hey!" from page 5 of issue 10 and the last panel on page 17 of issue 12.

If you can picture those reproduced at about 18" x 18" interspersed with other enlarged panels from Burden, Charles Burns, Steve Purcell, and others, you'll get some idea of how whimsical the walls of my room looked.

After my daughter, Aubri, was born in 1993, I lived a much quieter, family-centric life and taught myself the various tools needed to develop interactive multimedia. I've been a multimedia developer for the majority of the last 13 years. As anyone who spends any time with computers knows, one has to perpetually come up with usernames and passwords. Whenever its my choice and it satisfies the username parameters, I always choose "beanish".

Leading up to SPX 2002, it was announced that they'd be accepting submissions for that year's anthology from anyone, as long as it honored the biographic theme. I decided to finally write and draw a comic. 14 agonized-over pages later, I submitted my story on Jorge Luis Borges and literally nearly fainted when my first-time-submitting-anything-to-anybody story was selected and published.

Two years later at the maiden voyage of MoCCA, I premiered my first (and only, to date) self-published comic with a dedication to you on the inside cover. It has received many glowing reviews. Last year, I Googled your name and "beanworld". It was just something I'd do frome time to time. It had been over a decade since you had set aside Tales of the Beanworld to go work your magic at Image and I never really expected that the search engine would return any results that I hadn't seen a hundred times before, but hope lingered on. Next thing you know I'm calling my two dearest comic-loving friends and stammering on and on about how Larry Marder's making new Beanworld!

Larry Marder's making new Beanworld!! And so it came to pass. And when did "Larry Marder's Beanworld Holiday Special" arrive in stores? On December 17th, 2008. ...which also happened to be my 40th birthday.

Ain't life cool?

So anyway, thank you for all your hard work on your utterly charming creation and for returning to this story that has meant so much to me, my daughter, my friends, and my life. Words can not describe how excited I am to receive a WHOMPing huge new chapter of the saga of the beans when "Remember Here When You Are There!" arrives later this year. I've wanted to write you for so long but feared that I might gush too much and seem.. I dunno.. creepy? Hopefully that's not the case and I can get your mailing address and mail you my comic.

Thanks again,

Geoffrey Hawley

Oh is oh so cool!
Meeting #1.
Yes, absolutely, I quite remember Cory insisting that I stop whatever it was that I was doing and sit down and inscribe your book because the clock was ticking and she had to get it into the mail in order for it to arrive on time. That is how Cory was, and is to this day, about getting me to do important things like that. Quite frankly, left on my own, I'll space out and sometimes, even though I have the best of intentions, I'll plain forget.

Meeting #2.
Deeper Issues.
Yes, I remember this page too.

The term "mentor book" is new to me.
But I get it.

And it is a lot better a term than the one I used to use which was "gateway book." which was to me a book that was a little like the Kansas farm door that Dorothy opens in Wizard of Oz to reveal a new world exploding with potential.

But I think the idea of a book that's "a well from which it would be impossible to dip too many times" is far more appropriate.

That's quite accurately describes the relationship I have with the work of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, George Herimann, and Basil Wolverton.

I don't know if I've ever seen your 2002 SPX Borges piece or not.
I like Borges but I admit I haven't read a whole lot of his stuff.
I read the Labyrynths anthology in my late 20s, and even though I can't say I remember all the details of the stories, the haunting tone of the tales has stuck with me all these years.
Particularly the one about the library.

I sent a copy of your letter along to my editor, Diana Schutz and her reaction was pretty on the money: Too bad we don't have lettercols anymore.
Which is true.
For now, this blog will have to suffice.
Which brings me to email number three, also from Diana:

Larry, just got word: as expected, Beanworld book 3 took less time on the water than we allotted. It's due to ship from Diamond 11/25 for an in-store on-sale of 12/2. Perfect timing for Christmas shopping.


I'll say!
So there's some news after all.
The on-the-shelf arrival of Remember Here When You Are There is now seemingly only days away!
The fifteen year wait is now less than 15 days from being over!


bob said...

Very cool letters.

The illustrated interview was from AMAZING HEROES #200, a great little issue which also had a preview of the first chapter of UNDERSTANDING COMICS, and "comics on comics" by guys like Fred Hembeck, Ty Templeton and Matt Feazell.

Larry Marder said...

Thanks, Bob.
Amazing Heroes, huh?
The things that slip out of mind as the years roll onward.
I always liked that mag.
According to Wikipedia AH only made it to ish 203.
#200 woulds like it was a fun issue indeed.

Moondog said...

Great letters. Thanks for sharing, Larry. Can't wait for RHWYAT. What a great Christmas it will be!

Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read the post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read more soon.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
samuel rules said...

The above comment is me, logged in as Comics4Serious!!

I don't know what I'm going to do when Beanworld comes out. Oh, I know, not go to work and the cycle in it's complete form.

Rodneylives said...

Have the new book preordered. Oh, I cannot wait!

Brian Jacoby from Secret Headquarters in Tallahassee Florida said...

My copies of Vol. 3 are on my invoice for this week.

I know what I'll be doing on Thanksgiving...

Ellie said...

Adding to my Christmas list... hedging my bets on whether naughty/nice behaviour will produce a more favorable outcome.

Brian Jacoby from Secret Headquarters in Tallahassee Florida said...

It's here!