Inner Sanctum Records, 1980, by Ben DeSoto
David Lewis, owner of Columbus's Elizabeth's Records is actually an Ohio transplant. He spent many years in Austin and even pulled a stint as manager for the legendary Inner Sanctum Records.
"1986, Austin TX. Inner Sanctum Records was in the throes of a long, difficult death by the time I took over as manager after agreeing to work for minimum wage until the store could afford to pay me more! It was five years past any kind of heyday, in its second set of owners.
Still people knew the legendary name, bands wanted to do in-stores, Dez Cadena and the DC3 came by one day for one, 10,000 Maniacs did one weeks later, but it was obvious to everyone the store was dying.
I let the part-timers go, discovering later that the strange odor of decay was quite literally that: one of the guys I let go had left his take-out from the burger joint next door under the ticket counter and it was growing new life-forms. Still legends from previous era's would stop by, and when word got around that we were trying to put together a benefit show Roky Erickson stopped by and introduced himself, offered his services and wrote on a napkin: "I, Roky, promise to play the benefit for the record store".
I stapled it to the wall, gleefully unaware that all these years later I would wish I'd just kept it for myself.
We were in the midst of lining up bands to play when rumours started getting back to us about certain people not wanting to give the store money because it would all go up somebody's nose. We knew that a great deal of the stores dwindling funds went to grass because the wooden desk in the office upstairs was still an inch deep with it, but nose-candy?
Then it started coming together one night when one of the owners called and told the other employee to take the 60 dollars we had made (somehow) that day and take it out front to give to his friend. I had met this friend a few weeks earlier and he kept looking at me like he was saying "yeah, that's right, it's me!" as though I should recognize him. When he left I learned that he was the bassist for a band called Bubble Puppy...and so it turned out that this person was the boss' connection...my friend and I both quit a month or so later when the only other source of revenue in the store, the Coke (beverage) machine didn't have enough quarters to pay our wages..."
-- David Lewis
"Mark Rudolph's haunting CLOSING DOORS is a lament for much more than the record store. It's also a eulogy for the locally owned book store, the corner drug store, the comic book shop, the corner grocers, and every other small shop that once dotted the streets of our cities and small towns. These were the businesses that made the places we lived distinct, and our own.
Rudolph fills his engaging tale with loving detail and the familiar
characters that those of us, who spent more time in such places than we should have, knew all too well. This is no mere nostalgia trip. CLOSING DOORS is about the American Dream, when someone with an idea and a work ethic could scrape together a little cash, open a store and make a life. CLOSING DOORS shows the death of that dream, as the bigboxes and the all-consuming internet sweep over the nation like barcoded Four Horsemen.
Do we even understand what we've lost? Rudolph does."
This is a picture born out of desperation. It’s a manifestation of my anxiety over the possibility that I won’t reach the $2000 goal I set for Mark Rudolph’s Closing Doors graphic novel crowd-funder. I posted it on facebook and around twitter with the hope that people will see that I'm desperate but haven't lost my sense of humor. Well... and maybe to gross out the squares.
Funny thing is, I’ve had a few folks tell me that I shouldn’t post this graphic, but not because its vaguely disturbing to see me slurping mysterious white gruel off a spoon while rolling my eyes. It seems that a few folks thought the message was off. That I shouldn't state that the project will go on if the campaign fails. That I shouldn’t present the possibility of my not reaching goal in this current Indie Go Go campaign as anything but a dire situation. Like it was an all or nothing drama. Maybe as if the future of Nix Comics itself hangs in the balance of a desperate gambit.
With all due respect to well meant advice from smart people, I can’t in good faith imply dreadful consequences.
The fact is if that this campaign comes up short I’ll make sure that Closing Doors is printed. I promised Mark Rudolph it would happen and I wouldn’t have gone into this if I wasn’t able to follow through regardless of success on Indie Go Go. I’m dedicated... I love the story and think it a shame that its out of print. I think Mark is one of the great rock music storytellers in comics and that he deserves to have someone go to bat for his work. .
So why am I having anxiety over reaching the goal? What are the consequences of coming up short?
1) Indie Go Go takes a bigger dig out of the total if I don’t reach the goal.
If the campaign ended today, IGG would take 9% of the total as opposed to the 4% they’d take if the campaign reaches goal. That’s a little north of $60 bucks that could be spent on Nix Comics instead of going into the IGG pot.
2) I’ll probably release fewer books in 2014
The $2000 goal wasn’t chosen randomly. After fees it almost exactly pays for the printing costs and a $1/book printed royalty to Mark. I’ve already paid Mark for the print run, so I’m pretty much locked in for 500 copies. I’ve set aside money for all of the other books I plan on releasing in 2013. Anything short of the goal comes out of my own pocket, meaning less money for books not yet budgeted for.
3) My ego will be bruised
Hey... I want to feel like a success. Closing Doors is a great book. That’s a given. So reaching goal is a reflection on my ability to fund great books. Down the road I want to publish lots of great books and I want to be able to brag to potential artists and writers that I can seal the deal.
When the clock ran out on Rudy Goose Comics, I don't think anyone was really surprised. I made a real impression on about 15 goofy skinny punk rock kids, but that wasn't enough to keep things afloat. Skinny punk kids are perpetually broke. I took most of my business on-line and picked up a day job. The biggest question on most folks mind was “why was that store called Rudy Goose anyways?” Here’s the seldom told and frankly embarrassing tale of Rudy Goose.
Rudy was an actual goose. Well, a concrete statue of one. I did a lot of stupid things when I was a young drinking man, including lawn shopping. (i.e. getting wasted and driving around through suburbia stealing shit off of people’s lawns. Like I said… young. stupid.) My only defense is that my usual accomplice was friend and roommate Rob who is a full two years older than me and should’ve been the voice of reason.
One night my lawn shopping scores included one of those “fashion” geese that people put on their lawns in seasonally specific get ups. (A little snow hat and scarf in winter. A pilgrim’s hat in fall. A bathing suit and snorkel when summer hits. Y’know… A fashion goose.) It had been a pretty dry trip up until I spotted a tiny concrete head peeking through some bushes. I screamed “DUCK!” because I myself didn’t know what a fashion goose was at the time. Rob hit the brakes and, following what he thought was my warning, ducked his head beneath the steering wheel. I ran out and grabbed the little statue that would soon be named Rudy.
One of the things I continually strive for in Nix Comics is the inclusion of art talent that is not typical to the comic community. To date that has primarily been artists from the music community who are experienced in creating poster art… Like Ryan Brinkerhoff whose work was included in Nix Comics Quarterly #1, #2 and #4. I think it’s important to include these “comic outsiders” not only because it helps lend Nix a distinct vibe, but it also brings new creators and new audiences to a community that desperately needs new blood. So I was thrilled when my friend Kent Groswiler, a local painter, musician and general cool guy, told me that he’d like to contribute a cover to Nix Comics Quarterly.
I quickly hashed out the cover idea I had brewing and shipped it off to Kent. The process of getting the work done to both of our satisfaction became quite a journey!
Without going too much into detail about the story itself, one of the features in the Next issue of NCQ is inspired by a documentary on Lou Rawls I happened upon on a late night cable TV cruise. Rawls apparently wrestled with some real horrible personal demons that were in direct opposition to his public image. A real Jekyll and Hyde sorta deal in a lot of ways. (OK… That‘s actually most of the story. Um… Oops. Spoiler alert?)
At the same time I was writing the story, I began reading “On the Road with the Ramones” written primnarily by ramones tour Manager Monte Melnick. The book has this great, spooky picture of a wearied Dee Dee Ramone looking into a mirror. Dee Dee was also a notorious bi-polar type and the pic also brought me to mind of Jekyll and Hyde. Basically I wanted a cover that brought Lou Rawls, Dee Dee Ramone, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde together in some sort of creepy fashion.
Oof. Not what I was expecting. My bad!
Fast forward a couple weeks and Kent sends me an email with “I think I’m done” in the subject line. I was pretty excited as I loved where he was going with the Rawls reflection… But I had a little bit of a shock with I opened the image.
The monster now in the painting was not at all how I had envisioned him. It was a case of what looks good in a painting not necessarily making good comic art. The creature was done in a different style than the face in the mirror. There was no foreshortening. Also the horns and pointed ears (admittedly a suggestion I made) lost the whole Jekyll/Hyde feel.
Bummer. I had failed as a writer and editor to properly arm Kent with the language of comics. I pretty much set the guy up to fail.
Luckily, I don't freak out easy and Kent is as easy going as he is adaptable.
(You'll notice the actual cover is fairly different from the photos. In part I knew this would be the case and was prepared to fiddle with it in Photoshop to get it "just so." I also ran into an issue because the painting is too big too scan. My friend Katie Valeska (Creator of the Next year's Girl Comic and part of Two headed Monster comics here in Columbus) used a really nice camera to take the pics I'm using. the really nice camera picked up a lot of the textural elements of the paint on the canvas!)