When I was a little kid all I wanted for my birthday was a tape recorder. This was not a slick micro tape recorder or a Walkman with a record function. There were no Walkmans when I was this age. What I wanted was this black and silver brick of a machine with one big speaker, a spring loaded door where you loaded audio cassettes, and a microphone for recording. There was an addition port on the side where an external microphone could be attached but I never had one of those.
My parents bought it for me for my sixth birthday.
It was everything I could have imagined. I recorded everything. People, television, radio shows, and myself. I am sad those tapes have been lost but I am also relieved, I remember some of the things I said on those tapes and shiver at how it would sound to other people.
What kind of stuff did I record myself saying?
I sang songs, both ones I’d heard on the radio and ones I made up. What I learned from that was that I am not a lyricist. I made grand speeches that usually ended up with me blaming Magnum PI and his buddies Rick, TC, and Higgins for everything bad in the world.
Hey, I loved that fucking show.
But more important than anything else I told stories. I made up some weird shit when I was 6, stranger and more far out things than what I write these days. I think six year old Josh was channeling Lovecraft directly and I am a little jealous, imagination is wasted o the young.
That tape recorder stayed with me for a long time. I’m not sure what happened to it but I know I had it when we were living with my Pseudo Step Father but by the time a year later when we moved in with my grandparents in Dayton it was gone.
I see recorders like my old one on sale from time to time and I think maybe I should get one. But the truth is that was a tool of my past and my future is more important … still I do wonder what happened to all of those old tapes.
Telling stories into a tape recorder was fun and for me it went hand in hand with my first childlike handwritten stories. But eventually writing with a pen or pencil was too like staring at the ladies in the Sears catalog lingerie section. Eventually it got old and boring, what I wanted was porn.
And for a new writer in 1989 porn was a word processor.
I made my first effort to write a real tale in Eighth grade. I’ve told this story before so I will only hit the highlights. In my English class we were told to write a short story. I used my Grandparents Tandy Computer, how many of you know that name? This ancient machine was top of the line at that time and used a program called “Desk Top” which was a knock off of Windows. Compared to these days the computer and its word processing program, Enable, was a sad affair but back then it was like living in the future. There was only one tiny problem.
I had no idea how to type.
I spent two weeks hunched over a keyboard, which weighed more than my laptop does these days, pecking out a story. The story I produced was 20 pages double spaced and derivative of Star Trek and The Abyss. I was proud of it and when I turned it in I was sure I would be singled out as the star writer in the class. I was envisioning accolades, calls home from the principal, certificates of accomplishment, publication in the newspaper, and just maybe my first post puberty blow job.
Yeah none of that happened.
What did happen was I was accused of plagiarizing the work of others, the first several times that would happen, and made to feel like a fraud. It would be two years before I wrote any fiction on a computer again.
But damn the rush of feeling those keys clack under my finger tips is still a rush. When I am in the zone and my fingers, index and thumbs I am still a hunt and peck typist although I can do 50 words a minute so suck it typing teacher whose name I do not remember, are flying its like sex.
Yeah I know everything is a sex metaphor, grow up.
During the time I was experiencing the rush of typing my stories I also discovered something else. I discovered brushes and paints, I discovered chalk and paper, and I realized that some paper a pencil and a stapler was all needed to make my own comics. I discovered the graphic arts.
Let me say this before I go on. I love drawing and painting but I really suck at it. This isn’t me being self deprecating or trying, as the Brits say, to take the piss out of it. I am a descent writer and I think I get better with each piece I write, but no matter how much I drew, painted, and created in the visual medium I never got any better.
Now with that said on to the gushing.
I created a metric fuck ton of art between the ages of 11 and 13. Some where there are stacks and stacks of my work moldering, while there are a few I’d like to see again the vast majority are better left for the survivors of the apocalypse to find and revere as the work of a mad child god because some of that stuff was dark!
The comic books are another story.
The first friend I made after we moved to Dayton was a guy named Casey. Eventually he ended up turning on me after his other friends decided I was a piece of shit and made him choose. But I don’t blame them they were following their asshole nature. I blame him for being a pussy about it.
Anyway Casey told me how he made comics. He would take regular typing paper, fold several sheets in half, draw on them, add the dialogue, staple them at the spine, and then add the cover art.
I was blown away, as a lifelong comic book fanatic and wanna be writer I’d never considered this. I plunged head long into the project and created my own publishing universe for me and the few people I trusted to look at my work, mostly my grandfather John. The art was horrible but the stories … well some of them were bad but some were actually kinda competent. I aped the Marvel and DC style of using a one universe umbrella and having my books take place within it. I had multiple titles, miniseries, crossovers, and one shot specials.
Yeah I’m a geek.
Eventually I stopped doing this, I believe it was after my former step brother, the one I finally stood up to at Easter when I was 17, started giving me shit. He was actually a really talented artist when he wasn’t being a junkie asshole and he decided my art offended him. He spent the entire summer between 7th and 8th grades badgering me until I decided to never draw comics again.
More than anything else I created as a child I wish I had those little comics. I have no idea what happened to them and neither does my grandparents.
Great now I’m sad.
Alright I’ve rambled enough go do something productive. Write a story, take a photo, or make some love. I don’t care what you do as long as it’s not something harmful or destructive.