Monday, January 29, 2007
It's a MAD, MAD World.
It was bound to happen.
I am now officially an ancillary member of MAD Magazine's staff.
"You are now one of us," writes famed Willie Elder, creator of the now famous, MELVIN MOLE, A MAN OUT OF CONTROL.
But, warns Willie, Don't forget what Groucho Marx said, "I wouldn't want to be part of any club that would have me as a member :-)
Myself a man out of control for some time, I strongly identified with that truly underground comic book hero of the Ffties (file-toothed, rat-faced, bepimpled) whose sole (perhaps only) tallent consisted of tunneling his way with incredibly cunning underneath all obstacles, accompanying himself with obsessional mutterings: DIG! DIG! DIG! HUH! DIG! DIG! DIG!.
The scene, as I recall, opened with Melvin having dug himself into the Last National Bank.
But the omniscient police had placed waiting guards there. Melvin is dungeoned.
"You slippery little rat," his keeper grates, while having a KFC.
But the guard has discarded a toothpick, which Melvin seizes,and he is soon tunneling:
DIG! DIG! DIG! HUH! DIG! DIG! DIG!
But Melvin can't see and he surfaces in the middle of a Policeman's Ball.
There's more, much more to the story of Melvin Mole, but I certainly identify, certainly when it comes to my quest for hardcover book publishing.
DIG! DIG! DIG! HUH! DIG DIG DIG
I seem to be surfacing not at some literary party on Madison Avenue, but the policeman's ball.
But there might be a spoon they would discard there and I would use that spoon.
DIG! DIG! DIG! (HUH!) DIG! DIG! DIG!
My underground hero does eventually emerge just alongside and electric chair, atop of which a coffee is boiling merrily. "You've dug your last hole, Mole."
I am getting to the age where I should be thinking of my epitaph.
I am composing it.
"FINALLY STOPPED PAYING DUES."
I have had for twenty years a publisher himself recently fallen upon hard times.
People on the street would say, "There goes Ivan."
"Who is that man just behind him, so ragged and depressed?"
"That's his publisher."
My publisher, now homeless and staying with me, has brought in some of my remainders reviews, press clippings.
I am like an aging Hollywood starlet, poring over the clippings and photographs.
How grand the reviews.
But I stupidly used the fame to run for office.
What maginficent failure at politics! Politics is always a mistake for an artist, certainly me the comic artist.
Ah, but how grand it all was, the klieg lights, the spotlights, the tuxedo, the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd. Got nothing else to do? Feel insignifacant? Run through the streets, functionlally naked as a person. Run for office. You'll get your fifteen minutes!
Ten thousand dollars out, virtually dungeoned in my basement office, I started looking for a plastic spoon to dig myself out with.
The spoon came in the middle of the night. I still had some property-- no, not literary property, forget that!--I still had a nest egg.
Spending the nest egg. Taking $40,000 to make myself famous.
On television all the time, pontificating, bullshitting. I was reselling my books.
Thank god for cable TV!
But it doesn't take long to spend forty Large.
Ah dungeoned again.
I could just se my alter-ego, Melvin Mole. "You've dug you last hole, Mole! You're under control!"
Lately, I have taken to mischief journalism.
The brickbats are now flying.
I can just see the future. "You slippery little rat," my keeper may keen, with some admiration. "You've dug your last hole!"
"Now we're going to make you chairman."
Thus might perish the last of the hardcore hardcover book aspirants.
But tragedy sometimes ends with a laugh.
"In the end, he was MAD."