Saturday, November 10, 2007

Baker Mansion, Peter $$, Hellholes and Last Mail(er)
Random pics, linx, musings:

I had a dream this morning that I was back in Kubert School at the Baker Mansion.

I can't remember more than that, really, just shards of semi-events and splinters of motion -- the Baker Mansion (photos here by fellow XQB Tom Foxmarnick, thanks, Tom!) was the grand heart of my Kubert School experience from September 1976 to our graduation in the spring of '78, and a bit beyond. I've no doubt my dream was inspired by recent events at The Center for Cartoon Studies; it's been a remarkable month or two this semester, and this time of year -- as fall grows colder, and winter's temperatures ease in, and it's ideal to stay in and draw -- is irrevocably linked for me with The Kubert School experience.

Today, the school is located in the old Dover NJ school building, down Blackwell Street, which I understand has been completely renovated this year, and the Baker Mansion is now a dorm. It must be sagging a bit under that duty. In our day, it was a glorious building.

Our classrooms were in the Mansion; first year, we were on the main floor, and with the arrival of the new class in the fall of 1977 (including John Totleben, Marc Vargas, Tom Marnick aka Tom Foxmarnick since his marriage, Tom Mandrake, Jan Duursema, and many more), we were bumped up to the second floor. There was an apartment above that: first year, that's where vet cartoonist and beloved instructor Lee Elias would stay during his one overnight a week; after our second year and graduation, classmate Ben Ruiz and his family lived there, changing the complexion of the Mansion further.

Rick Veitch saw a benevolent 'ghost' on that second floor the first week we were in the building, when he and a few others waiting for their half of the carriage house (which were our dorm rooms that first year) to be ready for them to move in.

It was a blessing, it seemed, and everything that followed was indeed a blessing. My life, our lives, were forever altered, and for me it was for the better.

I just hope CCS means something like that to its students. This all seems to be working, though when it's happening the rush of hours/days/weeks/months seems breathlessly rapid. This week was a breath of gresh air, a meditative pause. That's what my dream felt tied to, stretching back to my JKS experience and memories, I think. With Lynda Barry's workshop this week, and more visiting artists to follow, it feels like we're having our visiting spirits giving their blessings, sharing their gifts, opening new possibilities and new paths. It's all good.

That's how my dream, unremembered save in fragments, left me feeling, lying in bed next to Marge and our cats Tuco (laying by my shoulder, purring as I stirred) and Lizzie. It's all good.

  • More about Peter Money, poet, CCS sponsor and fellow instructor, kindred spirit; he's just posted an interview of sorts here, check it out.
  • Peter talks about his life, work, headspace and there's a bit about CCS, too, with links, so check it out.

    The new downtown White River Junction presence of poets and writers like Peter and our fellow CCS instructor (and novelist) Sarah Stewart Taylor (with whom I teach Senior Thesis Workshop this semester) is another seed in the sorely-in-need-of-seed WRJ community, and Peter's one of the folks at the heart of that, too.

    This brings to mind the similarities, too, between the late '70s-early'80s depressed downtown Dover NJ experience that was integral to my JKS years and the almost identical nature of downtown WRJ VT scene. The differences are many and striking, but emotionally they're very similar landscapes: the weight of the past is heavy, the light of new growth and future potential at times blinding, in short bursts. Let's see where it goes, and what I can do there as part of it. Kudos to Peter and Sarah and James (Sturm) and Michelle (Ollie) and Matt (Bucy) and everyone behind this change, this new presence in WRJ -- but most of all, the CCS students. It's their harvest, not ours.

    My paleo crony Michael Ryan just fired off these two links to me to share with y'all:
  • The Video Vulture,
  • which Michael tells me "has been running for over ten years now in Calgary [Alberta, Canada]'s free weekly FFWD (Fast Forward) newspaper. Written by John Tebbutt and illustrated by ace-cartoonist Tom Bagley (aka Tomb) it covers all the video/film items of interest that anyone who knows the name Mario Brava would appreciate."

    Ahem, you mean "Mario Bava," I presume, Michael! A slip of the key, and you blow the evocation, like Ash in Army of Darkness. Bravo!

    Michael adds,
  • "Tom -- as 'Jackson Phibes' -- also fronts the Halloween inspired band Forbidden Dimension, who have just released their new LP, Cool Sound Outta Hell." Here's that link, folks, enjoy!

  • Thanks, Michael, for brightening our collective Saturday.

    BTW, Norman Mailer just passed away at age 84.
  • The news hit 11 minutes ago (as I'm posting)...

  • I think I'll go reread Armies of the Night...

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My memories of the Kubie School
    are many and varied, Steve. Some
    are about the carriage house, where
    the outatown first year students
    lived; the night the furnace went
    out and we woke up freezing the
    next morning; the mouse that fell
    in the tall metal wastebasket in
    the living room, keeping the downstairs residents awake most of
    the found the little rodent and tenderly released him outside(!)...Ken Feduniewicz and I wanted to murder the bum!
    Lee Elias only was there for the first semester, not the whole year.
    Henry Boltinoff was gone before that. But Hy Eisman filled in ably
    and amazingly, still teaches! (Last I heard...)
    Lee and I became friends and talked
    weekly for years until his stroke.
    I clipped Hy's strips for the local
    paper for years and sent them to him for his files and we still trade Christmas cards.
    So, the Kubert School memories, and
    connections, continue even to this

    Blogger SRBissette said...

    Thanks, Sam, for the shared memories. Ah, the carriage house... many memories there!

    Hy Eisman was the best of all our instructors. He was the most honest, candid and pragmatic of all, and he taught us much more than lettering and cartooning. He taught us life lessons -- as did Lee, and Joe, and Ric Estrada, and others (including our late, beloved classmate, Ben Ruiz).

    Blogger James Robert Smith said...

    I've known several Kubie grads. All but one of them seem to be happy individuals employed in some way in the field of graphic arts. The one guy I know who never seemed to make it became a fundamentalist christian wacko. Maybe he found happiness in ignorance, intolerance, and hatred.

    Blogger DrRobinAston said...

    My father grew up in this glorious mansion. I can remember being there as a child. You are so lucky to have lived there.

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My memories of that mansion also good. I recall my first week there I went to have lunch at the swimming pool. It was AWING that I was just a few months before graduating high school at 17; (turned 18 in Aug.'76) High School with 500 graduates; now I was one of 13 in the first school for cartooning. (originally there was 21 but by a few months into it...there
    were 13 of us)

    I didn't have much to say (being only 18) but still waters run deep and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE of all classes and field trips. I wasn't into the horror comics that some were about; I liked Hy Eisman's style or Henry Boltinoff, or Irwin Hasen or Stan Kay (Casper the Friendly Ghost)

    While not the best illustrator at the time; I managed to sell comic strip to a club paper of a major diet group, provided a comic to another specialty publication, did editorial cartoons as part of my job as paste up person (all with little competition) I painted 'the world's largest comic strip on the heating duct of a print shop that employed me 6.5 years and had story published in Inklings, I was a freelance proofreader for a bouttique ad agency, set up retail
    supermarket circulars; it may not have been SUPERMAN but SUPERMARKET circulars also use comic color (and no commute to NYC...just 10 min. down the road from my home. After the print shop, another local paper and more editorial cartoons, finally a job in Human Resources where
    as clerical assistant I created forms, fliers using desktop publishing software. Most recently; I have been a blooger for a dental firm where cartoons appeared on his Facebook page. (and I will soon be going on the web with a freelance business)


    in this field; it is important to have a 'niche' that will earn one a living for 'the future' niche was office support in print production. Every job gave me opportunity to provide a cartoon. (YES; I did many a cartoon for print shop customers) oh yes; randomly I sold some cartoons to the Nebraska Famer; early 80's.

    Thanks Joe and Muriel; for accepting me to your school.
    A ''bare talent' 19 year ole. There's alace for everyone in this competitive field...EVEN ME.

    Not sure who 'didn't make'it' / ANYONE who puts forth the effort....will always find 'the way'

    HI Steve, Sam!! remember me?


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