Words by Locke Van Kemp

We asked Locke to give us a glimpse into the not-so-normal side of the comic book world and he asked if he could write about some of the more insane comics he had been asked to write. After we were assured that no crimes had been committed we said hell yes!

1. Animals With Severe Depression

I’m sitting behind my guest table on the convention floor in a town that I no longer remember the name of when a woman who looks like she’s had a rough go of life approaches me with purpose.

“You write funny books, right?” she coos. I tell her I do. “Well, then mister writer-man, do I have an idea for you.”

Let me preface this by saying that it’s rare I meet someone who doesn’t have an idea for a comic book. I usually say, “I’m not allowed to talk about ideas without a contact, thanks to my agent,” which is both true and also very fortuitous. But something about this train wreck of a human compels me to listen. I tell her I only take paid gigs, just to test the waters. She smiles a snaggle-toothed grin, “Oh, honey, money is no object.” Your dental work begs to differ, me thinks, but I bend my ear towards the creature anyway.

“Okay, it goes like this,” she begins. “There’s this big-ass fuckin’ sad maniac tiger…” I’m sorry? “A maniac tiger! Like he’s super crazy and depressed. He’s suicidal, man, he’s got a gun to his head.”

A metaphorical gun, I muse, trying to make light.

“No, a real damn gun.” She seems upset. “The funny book starts with this maniac tiger, and he’s got a pistol to his head and he just blows his fucking tiger brains out!”

I’m stunned. It takes a lot, but I’m officially speechless. I wait for more.

“That’s it.” She frowns. “You can just make the rest up.” Still speechless. “I have a tattoo of the tiger on my ass if you want to see…” she finishes.

I don’t.

2. “Hey man, cool shades!”

Dark Jody contacts me via email. Dark Jody is a “dark poet” (his words) and he’s got some amazingly haunting poetry that is simply begging to be turned into a comic book. Again, I normally ignore this type of thing, but my cohort Rip Branagan is enamored with the idea of this tortured writer and prods me to ask for details.

Dark Jody is more than willing to dish.

He has 15,000 words he has written about a famous adult actress that he’d like to turn into a 12 issue maxi-series based on her name. I ask if he’s contacted the performer. He says they spoke briefly at a trade show and that while there, she complimented him on his sunglasses.

“If that doesn’t mean she’s onboard, I don’t know what does,” he writes.

I end the correspondence there, but not before receiving one last email:

“If we make this happen I can’t guarantee it, but I will try to get you a pair of the sunglasses.

3. Sneaky Skeleton Fingers

It’s nearing the end of the convention day when this abnormally pink-faced fat man that slightly resembles Sam Kinison saunters up to our table.

Rip immediately dubs him, “Ham Kinison.”

Ham has ideas, and Ham wants to hire us to see these ideas come to fruition. “You can draw a skeleton hand, right?” We assure him we can. “This skeleton hand, it’s possessed.” He leans in close, nearly whispering, “And the fingers? Them fingers is sneaky.”

Oh. Sneaky Skeleton Fingers. I think we’ve found our title.

“You might be asleep, and you hear this old ticker-tapping sound…”

We are enthralled. He continues:

“And then pop! One of dem boney digits is digging around your mouthhole. Oh, you’ll be a-gagging.”

Jesus.

“Well, what do you think?” he turns up an eyebrow. “I gotta hurry,” he chuckles. “They’re coming to haul me back to the loony bin!” We laugh with Ham for a minute and then, and I swear this is true, a man in a white jacket appears at the table and says, “All right, come on now, the bus is ready.”

AND THEY HAUL HAM KINISON BACK TO THE LOONY BIN.

So, we never got to actually give him a yes or no on the project. But you know what? Rip Branagan drew a little mock-up cover just for shits and giggles. So the next time you see us at a con be sure to ask, because I’ll happily show you the work-in-progress for Ham Kinison’s Sneaky Skeleton Fingers.

Until then, I’m Locke Van Kemp and I miss you already.

“Locke” is the writer of several nationally syndicated & critically acclaimed comic books, countless published short stories and the occasional questionable low budget movie. We at Woodrocket don't condone Locke's insanity, but we sure as hell enjoy reading it.