Let me tell you a story about a man, a man named Alec Longstreth...
In the fall of 2008, I was in Jeremy Tinder's Indie Publishing class at SAIC. Throughout the course of the semester we would read books by cartoonists and then they would skype in and we would have the opportunity to ask them questions about their books. One of our guests was the current fellow at The Center for Cartoon Studies, a guy named Alec Longstreth who had just published through lulu a book called Transition. As I read this, I realized how much he and I had in common. This mysterious man who draws comics and loves Weezer (like LOVES Weezer) and explodes with enthusiasm, we were basically built to be friends. So when our class was getting ready to interview him, Jeremy told us about this challenge he was starting. On August 1st, 2008 he decided in order to refocus his efforts on his five chapter book, he shaved his head and face and vowed to not cut his hair until he was completed. It was a great interview and he was penciling book 3 at that time.
Jump forward a year, and I'm accepted to CCS. One of the first people I meet at an outing to go swimming is a very tall, bearded man... who could be non-other than the barely scruffy gentleman who I met digitally before. Nervous as can be, I introduced myself and told him how much I loved his work (and Weezer) and that I was in Jeremy's class the year before. He was very polite and had no idea how much I respected and admired him.
As the years progressed I got to know him as a teacher, but more importantly as a person. Someone who cares so much about his work that it literally could bring him to tears, someone who was full of knowledge about all parts of cartooning, someone who gave fantastic feedback and really wanted each person to be able to do their best in comics. Someone who jumped around and carried a pointer stick and cheered and introduced us to so many cartoonists... He was someone who could help talk you through your rough times, or high five you at your best times. The man who gave us pinball, the man who married comics, and the man who taught us that our comics WILL love us back.
One of the most amazing times I ever had with Alec was two summers ago. Weezer happened to be playing in Essex Junction, Vermont and there was NO WAY we were gonna miss it... Alec bought tickets for me, Jon Chad and himself and we took my car up there. The whole ride there we listened to their albums in reverse order and sang at the top of our lungs, talked about Weezer lore, and laughed until our faces hurt. Once we got there, Alec found out he got on the backstage pass list! His excitement was out of this world and Jon and I watched the most amazing show from the house and could SEE ALEC SITTING ON THE STAGE watching them. Afterwords Alec was all a flutter told us everything and I'm pretty sure the car just hovered the entire way back to White River because we were so high on the best night ever.
After I graduated, I got the high honor of being quick enough to get a piece of the studio that Alec, Jon, Joe Lambert, Keny Widjaja, Alex Kim, Katherine Roy and Jason Lutes shared. It was incredible, feeling like one of the 'big kids' in that room working on comics and listening to audiobooks, music or whatever. When I left Alec was almost done penciling the entire last chapter... he knew the end was in sight. Alec, who was so supportive and helpful to me and my comics, was about to complete his epic... cut his hair! There was no way I was gonna miss that.
A bunch of things happened at once within the last three weeks. Southwest had an airline prices sale, my classes were gonna be on CRIT week break, and he finished his book... That was it, I was going. So Tuesday until this morning I spent in White River. And I told Alec when I was coming that if he needed any help ANYTHING AT ALL, I was his girl. Yesterday morning I got a text at 9:30... "It's printed... Let's do this shit!" I braided my hair and popped my knuckles and ran down to the lab. There was Alec in his bearded glory, stapling and folding the first few books...
We quickly created a good system. He stapled, and folded, I pressed them in stacks of 10, then face trimmed each one on the guillotine, lined them up in a row for Alec to sign and number. Then they went in the box. We talked about everything, the past, the present, the future. Pumped some Elvis and Johnny Cash and sang our throats off. We finished the very last book at 1:30pm.
At 7pm the hair cutting began.
But not before this AWESOME video by Claire Sanders!
You can watch the live stream recording here. And there are more images on my Flickr Album but here's the highlights...
The new Alec toasting at the bar:
The same old Alec with a fresh face :)
Congrats, Alec, my dear friend. I'm so glad I was able to be there. :)