While digging through an old back-up disc today, I found a long-forgotten project that never quite happened. The basic gist of it is, back in 2001, Christine Norrie was posting sketches to her website. If I recall, it was on a daily basis. Somewhere along the way, one of us had the notion that I would answer these sketches with sketches of my own. The process was simple: I would look at her drawings and write whatever came to mind. Short, to the point, just whatever they inspired.
We were supposed to collect them into a minicomic and call in Romantica. One even made it into a Spookoo teaser book that Christine did (the first entry below), but the project was basically abandoned when she realized that the web scans wouldn't print well and she had no idea where the original sketches were.
Below are a couple of the better ones. I have ten in all. None of them are great, by any means, but I do like the simplicity of them. Not a lot of fuss, a certain clarity to the writing. Some have things I would reuse later, at least one has a line that actually predated the exercise and was part of a short story I had written ten years prior.
Hopefully Christine won't kill me for digging these out. Thankfully, she's easy to distract. Hey, Christine, look! Over there!
Phew. Okay, quickly now, before she comes back...
This is what he wanted, wasn’t it? He wanted her in his arms, her lips so close he could almost feel them, the smell of chocolate on her breath.
“Wait,” he said. “We can’t do this.”
“Why?” she asked, still holding him, but seconds from letting go.
“You’re still…you’re still with him. And it has to be over…it has to be over before anything new can start.”
She stepped back. She sighed. “You’re right. You are.”
“It’s not your fault. If only I’d met you before, things would be different.”
He put his hands in his pockets and couldn’t help but chuckle a little. “No, they wouldn’t. You’d only be my friend and tell me how there was this guy you liked and you wished he liked you back, and I’d still be left thinking it would never be me.”
Last night had been Roxanne’s best date in a long while. Pizza ordered in, ice cream from the carton, and old Chinese cold from the fridge. She got to drink as much as she wanted to drink and eat as much as she wanted to eat, smoke as much as she wanted to smoke and watch whatever film she wanted to watch. She walked around the house with nothing on, and there was no one else around to care. She’d sent her lover away because she didn’t love him anymore. He had become tedious. Now, she was free--free to wake up and enjoy another smoke and possibly have a cheeseburger--the proven, hands-down best cure for morning breath--for breakfast. What would it matter? The only kiss Roxanne would have to make was to herself in the mirror, a big thanks for having the wherewithal to cut the bum loose, and the mirror, unlike the newly departed, was never one to complain.
Her hair smelled like citrus.
His shirt was soft on her arms.
Her toes crackled like livewires and sent electric signals all up her body.
His cheek was cold from the night air.
Her thoughts turned to fuzz.
His breath became slow. Air felt less necessary.
They didn’t want to move in fear it would all go away.
It came in a plain manila envelope with a card. The tape had a sticker on it that said, “Play Me.” The lyrics to Bjork’s “Headphones” were the only words on the card, meant to serve as a sort of instruction. Robbie had left six weeks before, had gone to a different school. It was the first time he and Rachel had been apart in two years. He knew she missed the Friday nights they’d spend in his bedroom laying on the floor, shuffling CDs in and out of the player and listening to their favorite songs. They’d turn out the lights. Robbie had plastic stars that glowed in the dark stuck to his ceiling. They’d stare at them and listen to Belle & Sebastian, Pet Shop Boys, Roxy Music. No one else was ever at home and they could turn it up as loud as they wanted. They’d fall asleep to something soft, like the Tindersticks or Cowboy Junkies, and when they woke up the sun would be out and the stars had disappeared into the whiteness of his ceiling.
Rachel put on her headphones, put the tape in the stereo, pressed play. She heard everything she needed to hear from Robbie, and he didn’t even have to say a word.
Sadly, I didn't have a separate file for the art on that last one the way I did for the other drawings, it was embedded in a word file, so it's super small. That was one of my all-time favorite little Xtine drawings, though. I think it was my desktop pattern for a while.
Most of these now read almost like what you would write if you were doing a parody of my style. Especially "Mix Tape." Keep in mind, though, 2001--only Cut My Hair had been released, I hadn't touched I Was Someone Dead in about eight years, and The Everlasting was about sixty-typed pages long. None of my other stuff existed.
To finish this post, for shits and giggles, cartoons Christine drew of me, and to close, an example of what some artists do when they are in trouble and are hoping to butter an editor up. (It usually works best if you send the original, hint hint.)
Current Soundtrack: Marina Céleste, Cinéma Enchanté; Mike and Herb with the Silver Strings, "Let 'Em Come/I've Been A Fool"
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All text (c) 2008 Jamie S. Rich