Jan 10 is not marked on my calendar. I would have blown past the date, oblivious, had not the filmmaker Maria Carbardo shouted on twitter, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEFF!
It was the birthday of Jeffrey Catherine Jones, my favorite artist, called by Frazetta “the greatest living painter,” gone nearly two years now. Regular visitors to this site will nod at the frequency of Jones paintings, images, and links I’ve posted in the 4 years (next month) that I’ve been online; Jeffrey’s paintings haunt me. The fragile beauty of his/her brushstrokes ache with a yearning that is never answered, a transformation never attained. And for the past few months I’ve been haunted by one painting in particular, Birch.
We need to rewind a little. It was mid-November 2012, and I could already smell the foul stench of chestnuts roasting on an open hellfire as the hated month of December lumbered toward me slow and unstoppable with its freight of deaths and births and sour aniversaries and fucking Christmas and ho ho ho and oh my Christ, I have never been a fan of December but in recent years a new painful wrinkle had been added to the joyous Deathmonth: the memory and anniversary, the deathtime of a story I had created and cared about, a failure of a tale that was not only told badly but left without a proper ending. Yeah, December, December; every year we remember. And I was sick of remembering this particular shithole of an anniversary. I realized I didn’t want to spend every December of every year for the rest of my life twisting my guts over a botched unfinished mess. This was the December, I decided, that I would give the story not only an ending but its proper due, tell the tale still inside me, a tale I still wanted to tell, this was the year and the December that I would finish fucking Exit Vector.
Telling friends and allies that I intended to return full-bore to Exit Vector for the month of December felt like a mouthful of rocks in my mouth, it was akin to sidling up to them at a party and whispering “Hey buddy I just shit my pants, would you hand me that big roll of paper towels, please…”
It made me feel gross, dumb, stupid, ugly, idiotic, enfeebled but most of all guilty to tell my friends I would finish Exit Vector.
My friends couldn’t have cared less.
“Okay.” They smiled, said, “Whatever, Drax. Do it.” They said this not out of indifference but with the casual unblinking encouragement my friends always offer me, familiar and loving and without judgements, and yet I am always surprised to receive it, surprised and grateful.
(Or maybe my friends have all learned the grievous error of questioning the current draxian master plan—whatever the plan might be for that given month/season/phase of the moon, I don’t know.)
Anyway, confessing to my friends made me feel a little better. Less poppy-pants. Slightly less gross. Now I had one last spell to cast: the cover.
I live with a madmen in the cave of my skull; you know him from these pages as The Creep in the Art Department. The Creep never stopped assembling pictures of sad young women that—for continuously superficial reasons—struck him as “capturing the essential essence” of Mori Kim Marr, EV‘s heroine. Here’re a few of them.
Problems in your head by Zakhar Krylov
But obviously a beautiful cover may only evoke, tantalize; it is up to the tale itself to deliver the goods, the completion of the spell and the dream. So here I am again, opening the door to a rite of exorcism and release, allowing the very troubled ghost inside me the freedom at last to die, and perhaps to live forever.
I may very well switch off the screens and shut down the site (again) in order to complete this terrible little tale. December’s already a memory, and time has no mercy. We will see.
It was Hell to set down this little post. It will be a worst Hell to finish this tale once and for. But it is a Hell of my making, and for better or for worse, a Hell that I now embrace. So here’s to exorcism, and conclusion.