I never used to care about comic books. I still mostly don’t. I remember when he brought with him on his first visit to me this book called The Studio, which celebrates the work of Berni Wrightson, Jeffery Jones, Michael Kaluta, and Barry Windsor-Smith. The book was from the 70’s, all big hair and poses in front of messy desks fraught with paper and wads of tissues, ink bottles and nibs. I would say this stuff reminds me of Creepshow and he would say why yes, that is the same artist. He looked almost impressed that I could note the style, and it made me feel good.

The only other time I have heard the word “ink” used as a verb is with tattoo art, so I guess the concept is still the same. Many times, late at night, after the quills are rinsed and the hamster water bowl that he uses as a reservoir is put away, there will often be smudges of black on the inside callous of the forefinger, pressed into the hard skin on his thumb.

watching you, ink
the page becomes skin
all you can see
is a part of the screen

In the dining room he sets up his art table, his tackle box of razor blades, pencil, protractors, and ink. In our old apartment, he moved the art table from the kitchen to the living room, so that he could watch movies while he worked. When we moved, he vowed to ink in the dining room, and only draw and sketch in the living room, so that if I wanted to, I could be in the living room without having to watch the movie Friday again and again. Since we’ve been living in the new place (about a month and a half) he has only gone into the room where his drawing table is to get supplies, then sit on the floor with a bottle of ink on the coffee table and ink for hours. In the last place, half a bottle of ink got spilled on the living room floor. We covered it with a faux Navajo blanket until the weekend we moved. While I complained at first, I don’t mind it so much now. The computers are in the dining room (which, by what’s on the walls, his bookshelf and drawing tables, is more his room than anything) and I have some quiet, if I so choose. Besides, we are such movie junkies (we don’t have cable), that I have no desire to watch a movie if he’s not with me, so the argument to get him out of that room is pretty much null.

you are in your own world
one of the right in front of you
the right now

Aside from not really getting to hang out with him while he’s drawing or inking, however, this is the only annoyance that comes with living with a comic book artist. Before, I would stare at the back of some guy’s head at the computer, uninvited to that world, and consequently, not desiring an invitation. Here, I am looking over his shoulder, and I watch everything. He gets his face so close that it’s almost strafing his nose against the paper. His back hunched over, he makes himself smaller, more compact, tilting his head from side to side as he turns the paper around. As the ink is drying, he will usually keep the paper on a flat surface, turn it, so he can work on another frame of the same page without smudging the ink.

I get asked. What do you think? What does this remind you of? One time, he asked for my hand while I was on the phone. He grabbed it in a handshake manner, so I started to shake it, out of habit. He said, “No, don’t shake it, just hold still,” and I realized he needed the image to draw it on the page. He has books on how to draw dynamic hands where, we both agreed, the fingertips of all the examples look like candle wax drippings, or worse, little penises.

ink lined over pencil
like fingers and muscle
you make erotic
a simple gesture

And I tell. If this character is looking at a bright light, he would hold his hand palm out, not the way you have it. This guy is older, right? Shouldn’t he have some graying hair? Did you notice that in every story you do, there’s a guy with the same haircut and hands as you?

He draws. Once, again while I was on the phone (in this instance, talking to someone I didn’t really want to) Jake laid out on the bed with me, grabbed the pen and pad I was doing math problems on and drew a bad caricature of me on the phone with the words “yeah, mmm hmm, uh huh” in a word balloon coming out of my mouth.

He tells. He tells me everything. When he was working on a biography node for Steve Bissette, he found a website for the artist and an email. Since then, they have been emailing back and forth and Bissette has sent Jake signed copies of Tyrant and compliments on some of Jake’s work that can be viewed online. There is nothing more rewarding than to see someone who truly appreciates an established artist’s work that gets to make human contact and find out that, hey, this guy is a very cool person on top of it all. He tells me every time Plastic Farm (the comic he works on, principally) gets rejected for distribution, and I share in his frustration. He tells me when a distributor does finally pick them up and I celebrate with him. Even when there’s no news, there’s always something changing or growing or moving with comics, or so I’m told.

Sex gets his creative juices flowing. We’ll be lying there, post coital, and I can tell each time he has just come up with a solution to a panel problem, or an idea for the next page. Sometimes, he will ask if it’s ok that he get up and write this down. This sometimes annoys me, but no more than most women are annoyed that most men pass out right after sex. It’s kind of neat to be someone’s muse, to spark some separate flare of creation without knowing what’s been done.

you cannot hear me
yet you invite me inside

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