SKIP A BEAT AND MOVE WITH MY BODY
I spent the last weekend in Savannah, GA, as a guest of the Sequential Art program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. They were having an editors weekend, and I was one of four invited. It was a pretty good time. I am not used to being pampered in my position as a comic book editor, but they housed me and fed me and lavished me with praise. The portfolio reviews on Friday were much more pleasant than most portfolio reviews at conventions—where people show up thinking they’ll get hired and told they’re a genius. These were genuine reviews, where feedback was the true goal, and we could talk one on one without all the static of throngs of fans behind us. Plus, they were timed, so it was rare that they went on too long or meandered. Each review had to be productive.
On the plane ride out, I started reading a new book. Truman Capote, an oral biography by the late George Plimpton. It’s a format I really like: a narrative strung together with quotes from various interviewees. I first encountered the style in Select magazine several years ago when they went through Blur’s career song by song. One of the best examples I've encountered is Tom Shales’ Live From New York, a look at the history of Saturday Night Live. I read the bulk of that book on my trip to China. In fact, seeing as how I started Truman Capote on a plane, it’s certainly a form that lends itself to travel.
Capote is undoubtedly a larger-than-life figure. You’d almost think that to him, his characters might have seemed terribly mundane in comparison. You could almost imagine him bored with them. His life arguably contained more fiction than he ever put on paper. If there is one thing anyone can agree on, it's that he invented much of his own history, changing it as he traveled from person to person. While most authors would have been the narrator in Breakfast At Tiffany's, Truman Capote was really Holly Golightly. This makes it all the more fitting that we would get visions of him through multiple eyes, since he presented himself as a different person to each one.
While in Savannah, I went to see a performance of Private Lives, a play by Noel Coward. It sort of fit. Two witty and urbane gay writers—and me in the South. Okay, it didn’t fit all that much. But in a passage in Truman Capote I read later that evening, they mark a date by the premiere of the play in New York with Tallulah Bankhead starring. That’s something, right?
Unfortunately, the performance was terribly mediocre. Of the four actors, only the female lead seemed to have enough verve to really pull it off. The rest of the performances felt like they were mimicking old movies. Plus, they were all wearing personal microphones. Now, I am a bit of a theatre purist, and I appreciate actors who can project to the back row. But even barring that, if you’re going to use microphones, then know how. The sound was echoey, it went in and out depending on how they positioned their heads, and whenever they embraced, it was like they stepped into a cave. The dialogue was funny, but sometimes it felt like I was fiddling with a radio tuner just to hear it.
I have to admit I find it kind of cool that I am in the 2004 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market. Granted, I’d have liked to have been featured as a successful writer, but being featured as a comic book editor in a round table interview isn’t all that shabby. (Plus, I get the book for free now! Woo!) I also like that my last four or five answers end in me either disagreeing or saying “I don’t know.” Me so smart.