We first met comic book artist Michael Kaluta through the amazingly talented Lee Moyer and his wife, horse and mermaid photographerAnnaliese. Lee had also done the cover of Michael Swanwick's "best of Michael Swanwick" book and they were friends with shadowcaptain who had once played a viking on stage at a Dresden Dolls concert -- so I suppose it was inevitable that we'd all eventually gather together in a corner. In fact, here's Michael, Trillian and Lee being fabulous last year and Annaliese in an outtake from Who Killed Amanda Palmer that I was sad didn't make it into the book.
Last Saturday a whole confluence of events conspired to bring trillian_stars to New York. One was that our friend Kelley was visiting Mike Kaluta, two was that I had a Top Secret and Very Cool thing to give to Peter Freaking Straub and thirdly was that a rock band who shall go nameless wanted an album cover photo.
We left at 5:30 in the morning and made it to Michael's in time for breakfast. I was loaded down like a moving van with light stands, cameras, lenses, and assorted gear which made progress slow, but the four of us (don't forget Kelley) went in search of a breakfast place but nothing was open. Which was fine, as we ended up going out to the grocery store and cooking at home.
I suspect most people know Mike from the Starstruck comics, they ran in Heavy Metal but it was about four years before I started reading the magazine. I mentioned that I'd always liked The Abyss and he said "Do you want to see the originals? I've got them in a drawer around here somewhere."
How can you possibly say no?
The illustrations were wrapped in glassine after having been mailed back from somewhere and it was a bit like cracking open the tomb of a Pharaoh (okay, I've never cracked open the tomb of a Pharaoh, but I've been on the giza plateau while tombs were cracked open)
Plunging into the Abyss.
Me and Ed Harris
I read the whole comic there again, all the cooler without the coloring. trillian_stars and Kelley went out to the Frick and I went over to Peter's and found him in the midst of cleaning out his basement. There were far fewer corpses than I'd expected. But each new box was a new treasure -- Japanese translations of Mystery or rare vanished hardbacks of Open Air (which I see is going for $166 on amazon).
I called the rock band who chickened out because it was forty degrees below zero out. ???! I carried all this gear all the way to New York in the freezing cold, you can get your butts on a subway car. But no. So now with an afternoon free, Peter and my bags of camera gear went off to lunch, which really was a win for the day. I really should say that if you ever get a chance to see Peter Straub at a reading, you really should go. He's so genuinely warm and funny and modest. I'm sure he knows how talented he is but he's very quiet about it. His new book, A Dark Matter comes out Feb 9th, but you can pre-order it on amazon (if you're not boycotting them over the Macmillan kerfuffle), it features a lovely author photo taken by me. He also has a really beautiful new book out called American Fantastic Tales:Terror and the Uncanny from Poe to the Pulps which is a collection of, well, just what you might think -- horror stories by American authors. The book is really beautifully designed. It includes scary tales by Hawthorne, Poe, Gilman, Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Henry S. Whitehead, David H. Keller, Seabury Quinn, Francis Stevens, H.L. Lovecraft, Willa Cather, Gertrude Atherton, Kate Chopin, Madeline Yale Wynne, Alice Brown and more.
Anyway, Peter had a new hat, which I think makes him look like a mystery writer. It belongs on the back of a book about horses. "The Mystery of the Stable Hand" or "The Mystery of the Four Jockey's" or something.
Moments spent with Peter Straub -- and everybody agrees, I'm not making this up, you can ask Ellen Datlow -- are moments where gold flakes from life and falls on you -- you leave dusted by fantastic with your soul shimmering.
Peter's New Hat
So, after lunch, my shimmering soul and I tromped off to the Frick to meet trillian_stars and Kelley. The Frick is a truly lovely place, I love everything in there. It was the coldest day I can remember for years and someone in New York had the presence of mind to realize that if it was that cold, it might as well snow. Along 72nd they'd lined snow making machines which were piling up mountains of fluffy white. Maybe it was for a movie.
Here's the land of the possible. I'm really lucky and grateful to have been a part of it.
In New York just because it's not snowing doesn't mean it can't snow.
Go do something fabulous today. I have come down with a horrible cold, but I don't care.
Go do something fabulous.
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