Retrospecticus: STAPLEGENIUS #6 (June 2001)

Staplegenius #6--cover by myself, Nels, and Mike Toft. And yes, copies of STAPLEGENIUS did actually manage to make their way into an actual work-house, and were extremely popular among the cons

    Like I said in the Retrospecticus for issue #5, two big but despairing events were occurring at the time of creation and publication: 1) Nels, the last hold-out STAPLEGENIUS collaborator, was focusing on his band END TRANSMISSION and effectively leaving STAPLEGENIUS as Pat and Matt had before him, and 2) I was creating a universe in which to play and tell longer, connected stories of a regular cast of characters.  With the exception of STAPLEGENIUS #9 and #11 (which still seem more like flukes than anything), issue #6 would mark the last ‘old school’ style STAPLEGENIUS–meaning lots of gags with a couple shorter stories made by multiple creators. 


   MIKE TOFT was a godsend.  Just as the STAPLEGENIUS team was breaking apart, Mike contacted me out of the blue (via actual Snail Mail) by sending me copies of his mini-comic BRAIN FOOD and a nice letter about how much he like STAPLEGENIUS.  He asked if I’d like to meet and discuss making mini-comics.  He, like I, knew there were other creators in town, he just didn’t know how to contact any of them.  I agreed, and shortly after we met at SPYHOUSE coffee shop.  Both meeting Mike and this specific location would become very significant to me (and the Minneapolis/St Paul cartooning scene in general) about a year, but that was still off in the future.  In the present of early summer 2001 what this meant was that Mike contributed to STAPLEGENIUS #6 a few shorts that were to be a part of his upcoming BRAIN FOOD #7.  I have to give Mike a lot of credit in helping keep the STAPLEGENIUS dream alive.  I was pretty bummed about the STAPLEGENIUS family falling apart, so it was wonderful having someone new in my corner cheering me on to keep doing more.


    Even though NELS was busy with his band and touring and all that, he still did find some time to do some doodlin’:

 Oh Nels and those damn cats….Then, like now, I really wished Nels would do a page-a-day calendar of this stuff:

   And while Nels may have never delivered on the continued “ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF MONSTER PIG-FACE BOY”, he did make this gem:

   As for myself, I was still on the Mullet Clown and company jag.  What started as a one panel gag months earlier now transformed into the longest comic I’d made in about 10 years at that point (I was 25), and it clocks in at only a whopping eight pages:

   As you can see by how that ended, what started off being a lame excuse for an auto-bio comic was quickly becoming something weirder with storyline larger in scope than “Why don’t girl like me”.  I had lots if ideas I wanted to get out there.  My only problem as I see it (and as you can probably see by the above tale), is that I had no sense of “pacing” or “storytelling”.  I wasn’t scripting then drawing.  I was just doing–making scripts with pictures.  In my mind I was consciously choosing “telling” over “showing” (kind of the opposite of what comics are supposed to be doing…right?), but looking back it was laziness.  For example:

  So yeah…I’m not the proudest poppa in the world when it comes to this issues content, but I see now how it was all a learning process, and this issue was just another step in my still-evolving and highly questionable talents. 

  Next time:  I try a full-length story, and drag Nels kicking and screaming along with to do so.

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