I have been told that my work here at The Cheers has been well received. Readership for the magazine and especially my articles is up and that MUST be a good thing.
Ive received nice e-mails from total strangers, invites to write for other magazines, and respect from other writers. Yes, it is clear to me that my writing career, if I can really call it that, is taking off and developing quite nicely. However, I must make one tiny little comment about it all.
FUCK ALL THAT CRAP! I WANT MY OPUS SKETCH!
In Disguise, Avoiding MeNow dont get me wrong, I am LOVING this writing gig and Ive already got a great handle on what will make my forthcoming book a page-turner. But Id trade it all for the ultra-hip cach that comes along with being a hit among other pop culture icons. Specifically, I have been courting the attention of one Berkeley Breathed.
Berkeley is the creator of clever, insightful, and often thought-provoking cartoon strips such as Bloom County, Outland and most recently, Opus. He has also authored several successful and wildly entertaining childrens books and has become something of a cult celebrity. He has been the target of my self-absorbed quest for acceptance since my arrival at The Cheers.
For those too lazy to search the archives or those who are new to my weekly nonsense here, let me explain a little idea I got into my head some months back.
A columnist, presumably one that appeals to hip nonconformists and pop culture devotees (like yourselves), should never really consider himself a success until he has attracted the attention of another, more famous nonconformist in the business. I have always felt that simple things like being parodied on Saturday Night Live or Mad Magazine, finding your own memorabilia on eBay, or getting free stuff from hipper & cooler people really help a guy determine if he has made it. Apparently, I have not made it, for I have not heard a word from Mr. Berkeley Breathed. No personalized note, no e-mail, no Opus sketch or original comic stripNOTHING!
I know, I know, I am VERY new to the writing game and it is mere impatience on my part that makes me feel inferior for not gathering any interest from this lower-level celebrity. And lets be honest, I am only about the millionth freak with his own column in some anonymous internet magazine. It is very likely that I am the only one reading my work and I am the one sending me nice e-mails and writing comments about my articles. I am not all that mentally secure or self-confident and I imagine that I could have created alter egos and split personalities that act as my own personal sycophants and fans. Stranger things have happened.
Still and all, I am FAIRLY sure that I am actually writing for a magazine with growing readership and an increasing audience for my work. So it should follow that SOMEBODY out there has taken such a liking to my stories they felt compelled to write Berkeley and tell him about The Cheers. After all, I wont be calling him myself. That is just not how these things are done. Sure, Ill reference him in some articles from time to time and Ill BLATENTLY plead for his acceptance every few months, but those are all show business tricks. A simple fan letter iswell, lame.
Of course, rereading my articles as well as taking another glance at some of my Breathed books at home has provided me with a little insight as to how these things work.
Opus. Also in DisguisePerhaps I have been shooting too high. My ultimate goal has been to receive a signed sketch of Opus the Penguin or an original copy of one of my favorite strips. I have completely forgotten about something.
I dont want him to JUST send me the stuff, I want him to read my articles, see that were cut from the same cloth, become an Andy fan, and THEN send me a little token like the afore mentioned artwork. That would be fine if I were talking about any other type of celebrity, but this is a cartoonist of undetermined fame and undeniable cult appeal.
Asking Breathed to send out a sketch to a person who is not nearly as high on the pseudo-celebrity food chain as himself is like asking a girl for anal sex on the first date. It is just too much to ask for so early in the relationship! More importantly, if he thinks I am as hip as he is, then the sketch would be mere wall decoration for me. It would be nice, but not nearly as special to either of us. Thats just not his style. So, Berkeley, I have changed my request.
What WOULD be an appropriate right back at ya kind of note from you?
I want to be IN your comic strip!
Thats right, I want to be in Opus. Now Im not asking to become a full-time character or anything like that, as awesome as that would be. I simply want a little background artwork dedicated to myself or The Cheers. It would draw some much needed attention to our little magazine and it would be a good faith gesture that you are indeed watching and approving of the work done here. This is much less of an imposition on you, as I know you have to submit a new strip every week anyway.
Bill the Cat. Bad DisguiseI have been a loyal reader. I KNOW that you toss little inside jokes into the strip. Before Bill the Cat made his triumphant return to the Sunday papers you had sketches of him thrown into the background. A Bill tattoo on a guy here, a Bill hood ornament there. You think we dont notice, but secretly you know we do. Ive seen little jibes at other comic strips, photos of Presidents, all sorts of minor mentions of other people and business acquaintances throughout the years. I can only hope to see myself immortalized within your work one day soon.
Here are a few suggestions to make this happen. I know you dont need my help, but just in case youre having a little writers block or something, Im prepared to help you out.
First, and this is probably the most obvious, have The Cheers or TheCheers.Org written somewhere in an upcoming Opus strip. Ideally I would like to see it as an actual magazine or newspaper providing some sort of blanket for a sleeping homeless guy on the street. Better yet, why not have one of your characters actually reading it while sitting on the toilet? OOH! Here we go, have TheCheers.Org be on the ass end of the diaper often worn by Bill the Cat. Now THATS some freakin credibility!
Next, if youre looking for something less direct, I think that you could easily travel to my website and get some ideas for sketches of me to use in caricature form. A juggling Andy tattoo on a big biker guy or a street performer spinning plates in the background would be cool. Perhaps a signed photo of me on Opuss bedroom wall would be very classy. If you want, Ill send you a signed photo to work with. Anyway, some sort of Andy-specific drawing hidden within the details of your work would be nice.
Finally, and this just might be the best way of going about it, some graffiti on a wall mentioning me, The Cheers, or whatever you choose would be a real sign that youre digging what I do. I dont want to put words into your mouth, but I think something nice to see scrawled in the background would be
Hey Andy Martello of www.TheCheers.Org, you are arguably the best and brightest new humorist on the planet! I, along with my entire family cant get enough of your work! I cant WAIT for your first book to be published. I think all of Gods creation should thoroughly read your work at The Cheers and then head right on over to your personal website. What was that web address again? Oh yes, it is www.AndyMartello.com. I LOVE that PLATE SPINNING GAME you have on your site. Man, you are one talented writer! I can only assume you are also blessed with an enormous penis that pleases your supermodel wife time and time again. I hate to bother you, but if youre reading thisOH MY GOD, is it possible Andy would actually be reading this? Anyway, if you are reading this, could you please send me an autographed Andy Martello Collectors Card? Or maybe you could deliver it personally, since you have a standing invitation to our house. Im free on the 25th if youre not doing anything. Call me!
Of course, Id settle for TheCheers.Org ROCKS! or Plate Spinners Do it With Pointy Sticks! or something like that. Im not picky.
Since My last plea to Mr. Breathed, he has taken the "Talk With Berkeley" contact page OFF the main menu of his website. The page itself still exists and the link within this article still works. I can ONLY assume that your CONSTANT e-mailing has caused this little removal of the menu option. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! Get his ass over to our magazine! Oh yeah... THANKS for all the support!