From the Editor’s Desk: Jonathan Vankin
When you’re a big-time comic book editor, such as myself, you get to know more about the writers and artists you work with than you ever thought you would. A lot more.
That’s because this job is kind of a cross between high school basketball coach and psychotherapist. The creative existence isn’t easy, especially when you’re relying on it to pay your rent. It attracts a lot of insecure, needy people. (Trust me -- I am one.) The people who get into it without being insecure and needy, become so in short order.
That means, when you’re trying to get people to give you their best work (and give it to you on time) your job requires an endless quantity of listening, understanding, sympathizing and cajoling.
Funny thing was, I never had to do any of that with Jonathan Ames. Already a thrice-published novelist, widely-read essayist and all-around literary celebrity before ever entering our magical world of the graphic novel, I found Mr. Ames to behave as the consummate professional. Never missed a deadline, took every editorial suggestion in the most constructive possible spirit. Even his spelling and punctuation were impeccable.
Yet, I learned more intimate, embarrassing details about Jonathan Ames than I ever cared to know.
I learned about his insecurity and neediness. And more. I learned about his baldness-anxiety, his spastic colon, his bouts with premature ejaculation, and of course, since the book he was writing for me was called THE ALCOHOLIC, his struggles with booze and dope.
I never asked him any of this stuff, believe me. Look, I was raised an uptight New Englander. I’d rather lick the side of a steel dumpster in February than question a guy about his sexual dysfunctions. But I didn’t have to. It was all in his damn script!
Oh, but wait a minute. The “Jonathan A.” in THE ALCOHOLIC wasn’t the REAL Jonathan Ames. It was an incredible simulation. Or something. At least that’s what Jonathan told me after he turned the script in and I felt the need to inquire whether the other characters in the book would object to their depiction.
Anyway, the point is, Ames keeps his distance from the “Jonathan A” who appears in THE ALCOHOLIC. I assume the same is true for the character of “Jonathan Ames” in the spankin’ new HBO series “Bored to Death,” which Ames created and which premieres right around the time the ALCOHOLIC paperback hits stores this month.
For all of his serial confessing and the fame and riches that he’s earned by it, Jonathan Ames still wants to be sure that when you’re reading his books (or watching his TV shows - whatever), you’re learning more about yourself than you are about the semi-fictional “Jonathan” who exists in his self-created purgatory between life and literary invention. That’s Ames’ real secret. “Jonathan” is all of us.
Pick up THE ALCOHOLIC, now in softcover for these difficult economic times, and you’ll learn more than you thought you’d ever know -- about yourself.
Now, here’s a peek behind the scenes, some never-before-seen sketches from artist Dean Haspiel, including Dean’s original cover sketch, actually drawn on a shred of paper towel.