For an awfully long time I have been filling blank pages with junk and goofy stuff and saving it in book form. I think it began when I was a Junior in high school. At least, that is the oldest of the homemade books I could find. I fill these handmade and factory-made blank books with stories, drawings, poems, clipped pictures, nonsense, secrets, shamelessly plagiarized gunk, and anything and everything. At 58 and one half years of age, I have been doing this insane thing for a very long time and have quite a pile of it. The above is my Tales of Fantastica, a cartoon journey into my own dreams and personal life.
I believe, based on physical evidence that the first collected writing I have done is in my Journal, Rage. It is called that because I named it after a Dylan Thomas poem in which he “raged against the dying of the light” because he was venting on the subject of his father’s death and the dread of living a life without being allowed to really be alive… to really live. I wanted to write down everything I noticed about being alive… my hopes, my fears, my dreams as fully as I could remember them… and it became, over time, quite ripe and fertile, as stored garbage usually will. I was able to use it as a source for other stuff. I have at least nine volumes of this journal composed over a period of twenty-some years… before I started depositing my daily dose of words and interior monologues in other places.
My old drawing notebook goes all the way back to 5th grade. I saved almost every drawing and doodle I did as a grade-school-and-middle-school doodler. It has some of my very first cartoons and bird drawings and monsters that I filled my quiet hours in childhood with instead of doing the homework I was supposed to be doing.
In college, specifically Cow College… Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, I first began putting stories into novel form. These I kept in binders and neatbooks that I had to illustrate the covers of with my own story-specific logos.
Here is the first manuscript of Superchicken, the first manuscript that I actually finished and followed all the way through with.
This book-maker-mania followed me even into the classroom. I collected classroom drawings from students, either as gifts from them or confiscated from them and put them into the binder I call my Gallery. This will make an interesting post of its own in the near future.
And I am still not cured of making my own covers, even though I am now trying to make them into traditionally publlished books. Here is the cover for Superchicken.
I suppose I will never really be cured of this mental aberration for as long as I still live. I don’t know what my heirs will do with them when they are finally rid of me once and for all. But it is all something I don’t regret doing. And besides, I couldn’t help it.