Come On, Let's Go.

I’m Your Biggest Fan, Pt. 2 of 3

I originally stumbled across Tim Kreider’s work (possibly NSFW) by accident, years before a formal introduction. The circumstances were so boring I can barely remember them. I was playing around with the freshly debuted Google Image Search and thought “‘Onan the Barbarian’, that’ll bring up some hilarity.” And it did (definitely NSFW.) Months (years?) later I was formally introduced to his art by way of this MetaFilter post. I instantly fell in love with his style. Obsessively attentive to detail and firing vitriol on all cylinders, he is the Angry Young Man who actually went ahead and did something about it.

One night, I was entertaining a pair of friends visiting from the West Coast. We were drinking coffee and trying to come up with plans for the next while; I’ve never been particularly good at showing people around and didn’t actually come up with anything to do beforehand. By chance and fortune, I remembered that Kreider was doing a signing at a nearby comic shop that night, and, luckily, both Amy and Robert were fond of his work. After quickly pulling up the address on Robert’s iPhone -- this was the first time I had ever had the chance to toy with one, and just about all of my too-hip-to-dig-Apple reluctance faded away when I realized I wouldn't have to call 411 and scribble cross streets down on a café napkin –- we headed off to Jim Hanley’s Universe.

The shop was, well, standard: ancient promo posters, homogenous chunks of manga trades, current issues on metal racks, nothing special. The signing hadn’t drawn a large crowd. There were three individuals, counting the man I was there to see, and I didn’t really recognize the other two. I made some small talk with one of them while Kreider spoke to a fan and cut the conversation short just as he freed up. I don’t remember whether I had already bought a copy of his book, or if he had them stacked up, but there I was, in front of him, trying to get some words out. Fortunately, he wasn’t remotely intimidating. Dressed in his trademark Really Nice Suit, he looked up with a kind-eyed smile from the cartoon on which he was working in the spare moments between fans.

For those of you familiar with his work, or if you glanced through it before reading this post, you are aware of the Tim Kreider he presents to us in his comics: drunk, involuntarily chaste, annoyed to the point of (fantasized) violent fury, and generally finding himself in situations that would arouse the reader’s pity if only they weren’t his own damn fault. Reading the artist’s statements which accompany his comics illustrate a man so furious at the goddamn bullshit around him, you’d think he was writing off melted keyboards as a business expense for his revolutionary front. The Real Tim Kreider was practically a polar opposite. He was genial, and even slightly shy in response to my stuttered “I, uh, er, uh, you’re fucking awesome, man.” While I’m used to gratitude from artists whom I compliment in person, the one issued from him was surreally genuine. I asked if my friend Igor, a burgeoning journalist, had already been there, and found out he had beaten me to it. Igor would go on to interview him for an article which now only only exists in the print copy of the magazine he was working for. Kreider and I discussed, among other things, his distaste for the Tom Tomorrow’s laziness, and my signed copy of his paperback collection now reads “Fuck Tom Tomorrow” as part of the heartfelt dedication. I asked for a "picture," leaving him stunned for a second, probably thinking I wanted him to whip up a cartoon on the spot (we're not talking about XKCD here, boys and girls.) Amy cleared the matter up by whipping out her camera, and we got a fantastic shot of what could easily be assumed is my encounter with John Edwards in a midtown comic book store.

NB: In addition to his comics (which are on quasi-hiatus,) Tim Kreider also blogs for the New York Times.

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  1. He seems like a nice person.

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