Originally published as an update to TWFK Kickstarter on April 8, 2018.
Desiree' Pittman is my wife, best friend, studio mate, and accomplice in the ultimate crime that is human existence. These are not the reasons my wife is in this gallery though.
Dez and I started dating over the phone really. I was on a break from NYC, staying at my Mom's place in WI after school, having needed to get away as my anxiety was at an all time high. I was alone in the city, and walking down the street could cause panic attacks, and I could end up crying for no reason. I had recently lost my Aunt Barbara, and life was unfortunately too hard to be by myself.
Dez and I had a class together in SVA, but we ironically had NEVER spoken to one another in class. One random day while I was in WI, I get a message from Dez out of the blue on good old MySpace. At first we just messaged each other everyday sending each other cartoons from explodingdog.com. Eventually we started to talk on the phone bonding, and watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force every night together.
It was also during this time, that I got to see what Dez was capable as an artist. Dez's ability to capture a person in a portrait was on a whole different level than I had seen before. The figurative draftsmanship is something I always to this day admired. She also has this knack for capturing sadness, and dark in the world with her art.
Dez's favorite character in The War for Kaleb is Addey. And it should be. Addey is my wife, and my wife is Addey. They love their respected partner's with every fiber of their being, unconditionally, without any thought of reward for their affection. It exists, pure and simple with no motive other than it being an extension of their character.
I think Dez's piece captures this perfectly. Addey's worrisome hand on Kaleb's shoulder, with their shared melancholy. The mysterious darkness is there lurking beneath, but Addey has no idea where to dig. It is based off of a consistent response I get from Dez "I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better."
This is the true reason Dez's artwork is in this book. This story belongs to her just as much as it does belong to me.
One of the reasons I wrote this book was to find a way to be a better person to my wife, and also give Dez the understanding of seeing the world through my eyes, the best I could.
Today is also Dez's birthday, and this is part of my gift to her, but everyday I live with her is a gift to me.
Every Tuesday night at the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning, Clinton House dorms, me and the rest of my housemates, would crowd into our buddy’s tiny room. It was the only room in the house that had cable. There we would, like clockwork infringe on our friend’s boundaries, and personal space to watch the newest episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No matter how much it annoyed him, he let us come in and watch because he is a good friend. This is Adam Walmsley.
Like the good friend that he is, one day, after Adam had read the first two issues of The War for Kaleb, he, out of the blue, posts a drawing of The War for Kaleb that he did, on Facebook. This is the very first time that I had ever seen my characters drawn by someone else. The best part is, that I never asked. The book spoke enough to Adam that he took it upon himself to do the amazing piece. I get too sentimental, but it brought me to tears.
I’ve said it before, but art is the closest thing we will get to seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. The way he saw my characters were different than the way I do. But the integrity that makes the characters, are still intact. What is amazing about Adam’s piece is that he gave all the different characters a slightly different look. Like a spectrum of anxious evolution. Starting when Kaleb is a bright-eyed boy, to a worrisome young man, to his light superhero representation with a slightly larger build, and then the overarching, menacing dark hero to loom over Kaleb’s every desire and ambition. It is subtle, but it is there.
One of the things that I have always noticed about Adam’s work is how exceptionally clean his style is. Every line matters, and nothing is wasted. It is confident and demands to be looked at.
Even when we would argue about stupid “nerd” stuff like whether or not the Star Wars Prequels were good (they are good, sorry Adam), or whether or not he should let 6 other people in his room to watch a stupid TV show, Adam has always been a great friend, and I’m proud to have his work as an addition to this book.
I was a Star Wars kid, born in 1978, grew up in the 80s', fell in love with comics in the early 90s' and discovered Punk Rock around the same time. Jim Kettner is cut from almost the exact same damn cloth as me, age and everything.
When I read Ink in Water written by Lacy J. Davis, and drawn by Kettner, I fell in love with his art. The book follows the journey of the author, Lacy, living with an eating disorder. It is an extremely powerful book of self defeat, self abuse, self care, and self discovery all the same. A lot of the themes captured there very much echoed some of the themes of The War for Kaleb.
The thing that really drove the themes home in Ink in Water was the amazing art of Jim Kettner. It was the first time I really saw the darkness, and all consuming power of mental illness visually represented the way he does. He also gives us a glimpse of what it was like for someone like him to grow up reading comics, and coming of age in a punk rock scene. It was only appropriate that I ask Kett to draw Kaleb for me.
Given that I have just finished my third tribute cover, Kett asked if it was okay to do one of his own, based off one of his heroes, the legendary Thor artist, Walter Simonson:
My wife, having had taken a class with Walter Simonson, back in our SVA days, decided to shoot Walt the awesome image. He retweeted it, and it made everyone's days, but probably not quite as much as Jim. It was like a seeing a kid wake up for Christmas.