That's what Laurenn McCubbin calls San Francisco. And here I am, having a
double espresso and a cigarette outside Boudin's on O'Farrell, watching the
world go by. An endless parade of pretty girls and crazy guys crocodiles
past. Somewhere down on Market stalks Frank Chu, still proclaiming that
those alien bastards Bill and Hillary Clinton fucked over him and twenty-six
other galaxies. He's selling advertising on the back of his placard now.
The kid sitting next to me has just loudly proclaimed himself to be "the Lex
Luthor of sex". I don't see how that's an entirely good thing.
The Cartoon Art Museum's not far from here. I want to find the time to get
there. Shaenon Garrity's been talking to me about it for what seems like
forever. But time goes strange for me here. Everything slows down, and yet
the day is over too quickly. I lost all of yesterday to shooting photographs
for a new book project I've half-conceived. Prowling around abandoned Navy
yards and art studios in junkyards. A girl with orange hair and a cigarette
determinedly clamped between her teeth, welding in the sunshine. Train
tracks to nowhere. A TV set exposing its guts from within a forest of beer
bottles. For the first time in what seems like months, I am totally relaxed.
A little girl riding shotgun on her baby brother's pram smiles at me as she
rolls past. I can hear someone singing somewhere close. Perfect sky.
Meeting Larry Young for lunch today. Larry and his wife and wrangler Mimi
Rosenheim are the publisher AiT/PlanetLar. Worst publisher name in history,
yes. Also possibly the most energetic publisher in the black-and-white
graphic novel business. They began with a brand; sf adventure of various
strengths, established with Larry's own ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE sequence and
the republication of Brian Wood's CHANNEL ZERO, the boundaries staked out by
the likes of the comedy book SKY APE and the horror and spy-fiction tinges of
NOBODY. They broke ranks by publishing the collected edition of my 52-part
industry column COME IN ALONE, and then decided to become a full-range
They've a children's book, ELECTRIC GIRL. An alternate history of America
for young adults, COLONIA. The Steinbeckian angst of ABEL. The superb
Kennedy-conspiracy book BADLANDS. They've gone from thinking "what fits us?"
to simply considering "what do we like?" This is an important step for any
publisher, and illustrates the way the graphic novel business is edging
towards a mainstream maturity. I mean, who the hell sits there and says, "I
think I'll buy a HarperCollins book today"? Any publisher who wants to
still be here next year needs to produce a variety of books for a variety of
people. I personally don't care for very many books that HarperCollins
releases. Some of AiT's books don't do it for me. This is as it should be.
This is the sign of a publisher with their eye on the big game.
Plus, he's buying me lunch.