Friday, 9 November 2012

Taboo: "Steve Can't Be Here."

Taboo #8 & 9 (Kitchen Sink Press, 1995)
Cover art by Charles J. Lang & Alan M. Clarke
(from the introduction to Taboo #9, 1995)
"Steve.. can't be here." Dave Sim looked introspective after making the assertion. Suddenly mindful of the anxiousness of the reader at the flatness of  his voice (what's going on?) he seemed to come to himself, turned to face the reader directly for a brief moment - and then drifted back beneath a tide of reflection.

"He really can't. If you've read the introduction in the last volume," he paused, weighing the likelihood of his conjecture. The question grew larger for him, carrying him away from the reader. He drew a deep breath. And then he began speaking in a normal tone (a normal rapid tone - the look on his face recalled someone attempting to focus on their oration and ignore the distant echo of their voice rebounding back to them a second or two later).

It's just crazy, I know. I'm thinking about Aardvark One International, my second and final attempt to publish other people's work and what a mistake it was - how it broke my final connection with the notion of publishing. Not my notion. What am I trying to say? Self-publishing was it. Publishing doesn't work. I mean, if you read the introduction to the previous volume, you know that's all that Steve has to say. This is like something that should be a clean break like...

Like driving someone to the airport that you like well enough but can only take in small doses and you've definitely had enough to last you a good long while. So you get to the airport and their flight is delayed and you stay and keep them company. And the flight is delayed again and they keep saying that you should go, they'll be fine. But you can tell by looking at them that it wouldn't be fine, so you stay on. And you start moving toward the state where you're sort of vaguely annoyed and impatient and you can feel that it is really draining your energy and you start to wonder if you're going mad. And you have to keep telling yourself that it's just a little while longer, that this is what being an adult is all about, life is filled with little sacrifices. All those kind of thoughts. And then the flight is delayed again and the someone suggests that they just come back and spend the night at your place and try again the next morning.


That's why Steve can't be here.

It's like that story. To try to write another introduction after the piece he wrote in the last volume, well - there comes a point where you wonder if you're going to just... lose it. Know what I mean? Like, the Big Lose It.

So here I am. Me, I'm not in the same story as Steve. No, my story is more like... like...

He pinches his index and middle fingers on his cigarette, attempts to pull it out of the corner of his mouth. He misses his grip and the two fingers slide to the end, pinching on either side of the glowing tip.

"SHIT!" He brushes furiously at the front of his shirt adorned with blazing bits of tobacco. He misses one which drops into the folds of his dress shirt just above his belt. "FUCK!" He dislodges it with his two burned fingers, further scorching them.

Dave Sim slumps into a chair, lighting another cigarette.
He exhales heavily.
A dozen expressions cross his face in the next moments.
Finally he grins broadly and laughs.
"Ocean Group," he says and then laughs again.
He seems to notice the reader for the first time.
He regards the individual with a dispassionate eye.
"See," he says. "Steve and I are out of here."
He gets up and leaves.

The End

After self-publishing Taboo #1-4 through SpiderBaby Grafix, Steve Bissette edited Taboo #5-7 and Taboo Especial which were co-published with Kevin Eastman's Tundra Publishing. In 1993 Tundra Publishing was involved in a controversial merger with Dennis Kitchen's Kitchen Sink Press, which published the final two volumes of Taboo, #8-9, in 1995 edited by Philip Amara. In 1994 Kitchen Sink Press had been purchased by Ocean Capital Corp. Kitchen Sink Press was finally dissolved in 1999.

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