Saturday, February 22, 2014


In the early 1980s, because there was no alternative besides going “home”, I took a room in a transient hotel off 14th Street and 8th Avenue for three months. (I was waiting for the first, perpetually delayed publication of HUGO to bring in additional cash; it didn’t.) It was on the waterfront, on the corner of Jane Street and West Street, and was cleverly monickered the Jane West Hotel!

The place was promoted in the classifieds as having “Old World Charm”. The rooms themselves were tiny cells with bars on the window, usually facing a brick wall. No refrigerator; I had to eat “out” with the pittance I had. I had few change of clothes, and must have stank, because the shower was three widely spaced strands of water.

I searched the papers for a better hotel while I was there; one I inspected was a room of flophouse cells with only bent wire fences separating them. It was dankly depressing, and made my cement block look good.

This was during the winter. There was a time I was walking home in the snow, and my Payless shoes were literally falling apart with the moisture. On the pavement, I found a pair of cumbersome, unlovely shoes that I wore for the next few months. I was proud of them, and called them “Noah’s Shoes” because they turned up like God’s will, were ancient, and was the title of Max Fleischer’s novel. (My mother, horrified by them, insisted on buying me a new pair a few months later.)

Almost brainlessly, I drew cartoons for publications on a wooden board propped on my lap while sitting on the bed. It was the skanky, characters-fucking-in-squalor SCREW cartoons that were truest to my heart, although veterans told me it wouldn’t do anything good for my “future”. I know I was deliriously hungry and psychologically freaked. Yet women seemed to find me especially attractive at the time. Go figure.

Like many of the theatrical bolts from the blue that have changed my life, an artists’ agent who was dealing with one of my porno magazines decided I would be a “hot happening” and promoted me to my "garden" (read: unstoppable weeds) apartment in Brooklyn. It wasn’t great, and the partnership did not last, but I SURVIVED THE JANE WEST HOTEL!!

A song from THE GREAT GABBO (1929) that expresses my feelings about those days well:

I don't see the Hugo days as a good time.
If I ever do write an autobio, it will be in text instead of comics form. I find plain text can convey inner feelings more naturally than multiple panels in a comic.

Auspiciously Yours, MK


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