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The Flaming Artist Speaks to the World

The Amsterdam Trip—January, 2005

6:56 a.m. Thursday, February 3, 2005

Our shuttle left for the airport at 5:00 a.m. Our flight for Los Angeles (Burbank, actually) leaves at 11:00 a.m.

In the morning, I asked the hotel desk clerk, a pretty young German woman, for help locating the various comic book stores I had Websearched last week. They all turned to be in the same area of the Latin Quarter, within walking distance of the Miyazaki/Moebius exhibition. Or it would have been if I weren’t gimpy.

The first store was SAS Paul Boulinier du Quartier Latin. Boulinier was a big store—3 stories, with narrow circular staircases rising to the 3rd floor attic, where the graphic novels were displayed. I was looking for the European version of my “Catwoman” book, but all they had was the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel, “Selina’s Big Score.” I couldn’t muster enough courage to ask the man barricaded behind the small desk if he wanted to buy some TAF’s—I’d brought 6 copies each of issues #1 and #2. I didn’t see any sign of overtly hardcore erotic work. Plus, I was sweating, felt slightly dizzy & my feet hurt. I felt awkward, heavy, overladen with my camera and my KCRW bag around my neck. I was paranoid of the impending 3 hour walking tour of the Louvre.

I bought a small paperback by Gus Bofa, who had several books for sale. He was a remarkable comic draftsman who died in the ’80s. The book I bought was “Synthèsis littéraires et extra-littéraires,” a book of visual pun drawings on various French cultural & historical figures. I don’t get most of the references, but I can tell they’d probably be funny.

From there I went to Album SAS, a couple of blocks away. This was not quite as large—Boulinier also sold vinyl, DVDs, CDs, books. Album was just comix & related items. I went to check out the basement, saw a man behind a counter with a small erotic section. Emboldened, I asked him if he was interested in buying. He directed me to the sister store, diagonal across the intersection. “It specializes in comics.”

There I was introduced to Olivier Jalabert, manager. I told him I was a comicbook artist from America. He said, “We forgive you.” I said, “Don’t be too quick.” He ended up buying 3 copies each of TAF #1 and #2 for €40, took my business cards “in case we sell out.” He was aware of my stint on Catwoman. “You took over from Darwyn Cooke.” He asked if I had any Catwoman original artwork left for sale. What a great ego boost that was.

I made it back to our room in time to put my feet up for a half hour. John lent me one of his Percosets, so, by the time we started walking the Louvre, I was feeling pretty happy. Once again, our tour group was tiny—just one other retired heterosexual couple from Texas. They soon split off from us to do our own thing, leaving us alone with the guide, a slightly prissy man in early middle age. John typed him as a sister. We stayed mostly in the “Denon” wing. John was tripping out, once again, on seeing so many things described in “…Code.”

After a couple of hours, my feet were starting to hurt again. John and I were shooting each other glances. I was getting ready to tell the guide that it had been grand, just grand, but it was time for “Adieu.” He beat me to the punch, though. He checked his watch, said, “Our time is at an end,” and gave a brief Vanna White at our map of all the other cool stuff available for our cultured perusal.

I felt sort of sorry for him, and the guide who did the bus tour. They must not be making any money on these off-season gigs. I suppose they have to keep their hand in, but it must be hard to keep one’s enthusiasm up. I’m reminded of when John and I saw Morgana King perform in a Hollywood dinner theater about 15 years ago. There was only one other occupied table in the restaurant. Morgana did her best, but her heart wasn’t quite in it.

We found a café in a far corner of the Louvre, and I bought him a slice of birthday cake & water (I got a chocolate mousse). The service was so amazingly slow that our snack took an hour. Afterwards, we visited the museum bookstore. I bought an expensive (€45) hardbound coffeetable art book of the museum’s collection, as much as for John as myself. He really was intent on viewing “Mona Lisa,” as he had just finished listening to the books on tape version of The Da Vinci Code I’d given him for his b.day. I listened to tape #1 lastnight before bed. Very engrossing in a comic book/pulp kind of way. It’s about the Catholic Church repressing the feminine side of God. John has talked about it with several people who’ve read it, including the Irish lady & her daughters, the French/Finnish tour guide and some others. They’re all into it. I wonder if Doreen Keys has read it. I imagine her reaction would be similar to John Bangle’s when I told him about reading The Celestine Prophecy: “Metaphysics 101,” he snorted condescendingly. I presume Doreen’s will be similar.

© 2005 Flaming Artist

 
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