Tagged: High School of Art & Design

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

THE INFLUENCE FACTOR: Part 2: Dan Didio & My Studio 54 Philosophy

Writer’s notes: All DC Comics references imply past events. They do not indicate any criticism or suggest answerability from current management.

I’ve built my career around what I call my Studio 54 philosophy. It’s that philosophy that I’ll use to explain how those dancing on Dan Didio’s grave do so at considerable risk.

If you have not read last week’s article, please do so. If you don’t, this is gonna read strangely.

There’s no way to say this without sounding a bit full of myself, so here goes… I’m the Master Of The Universe. Yep, call me Motu if you like, but I am indeed the Master, etc. etc.

To be the Master of anything requires intelligence, the ability to reason, and self-confidence. Believe it or not, reason and self-esteem are more critical than being smart. If I had to pick one overall, it would be confidence.

Another way to put it is a force of will.

Studio 54 was a fantasy, a wish, a dream to me. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be able to roll in there at will.

Well, rejection is a great motivator.

I was NEVER rejected from 54. My most painful rejection was from the most excellent high school known to mankind the universe (of which I am Master) and all of creation (that’s not me) the High School of Art & Design.

WHAT? But we’ve read dozens of articles where you tell of the love for that high school because you went there. The fans of Michael Davis (both of them) are saying.

I did go there— but was rejected my first try. I tried in the ninth grade for admittance to the tenth grade. DENIED! I’ve wanted to go to that school since I found out it existed in the fourth grade. At that age, waiting six minutes is agony— imagine waiting six years.

I could try again, but there was a catch.

The odds of getting into A&D for admittance to the 9th and 10th grade were four people admitted out of every ten that applied. The 9th and 10th were foundation years where you learn the principals of art. Anyone hoping to get into the 11th grade, the odds were 1 out of 25.

The odds were that low because you’re skipping the foundation years. You major immediately. I was told this by my guidance counselor, no doubt hoping to spare me the pain of rejection for the second time.

“An artist is wishful thinking for one in your position Michael.” Translation: “Nigger*, PLEASE. There’s always work at the Post Office.”

I got in.

That was the moment I realized what my boy Lee calls; THE POWER OF DAVIS.

It wasn’t too long after that I was getting into 54. Because I began to look at things differently.

It wasn’t a Black and White world; there are plenty of shades; this underaged Black kid was now made aware of. My friend Earl and later Lee would hop (not pay) the train from Far Rockaway to Manhattan just to stare at what we thought we would never take part in, life like white people lived.

We would stand outside of Broadway plays, hoping to see whatever TV stars we heard were appearing in the play come out. Stand outside movie theaters showing blockbuster movies. One night we noticed the usher tearing ticket stubs dropping his half. One of us would pretend to trip while walking by, grab the discarded stubs go to the back of the line, and MOVIE NIGHT was born. The highlight of our Manhattan nights was always Studio 54. The street was packed with people all trying to get in; we stood there for hours just happy to be near a place we saw on television.

No such ‘stub’ opportunity at Studio 54, but watching the news one night gave me an idea. There was a story about this woman who gifted Steve Rubell a Studio 54 sculpture. I did a drawing and went down to 54 during the day.

I knocked on the door, a lady answered, said with a smile, “No.” When I asked for Mr. Rubell. That ‘no’ caused me to refine my plan. I knew I’d get in eventually Why? One out of twenty-five is why.

There were photos of all the top doorman from the top clubs in a magazine story that for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of. I did caricatures of all of them. Then I talked to an editor of a pennysaver circular. I’d met her at my cousin’s house, she gave me her number. I was studying illustration at the world’s most fabulous high school, and she told me to come to see her when I graduated.

She ran the art.

The “magazine” came out, my intention; give the originals to the doormen.

I set about dropping the artwork off at the clubs. The first club I got into was Xenon, the only real competition 54 ever had. Funny thing the doorman, Charles, had not seen the drawing just undid the velvet rope for me and my girlfriend Renee. An hour or so later, I caught him by the bar and told him about the drawings.

Valerie Perrine dances with Disco stars The Village People at Xenon.

He sent someone to the office to look for them. Turns out Roger, the other head door guy at Xenon, was recruited by 54 and took all the art with him. Charles was so moved by the gesture he told me to come down anytime then introduced me to Brian, Roger’s replacement. From that moment on, I was VIP at the 2nd biggest nightclub in NYC.

This was the night that started to shape my Studio 54 philosophy.

My Studio 54 philosophy:

Get to the decision-maker.

One night I showed up at Xenon, and neither Brian or Charles were at the door. The guy there was someone I’d seen before from his swagger I knew he was the boss. I rolled up to the rope and dropped a “Charles always lets me in” all I got was a look and a view of his back when he turned around on me. I was heartbroken, so I started to leave when I hear—

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?” The voice belonged to a stunning Black woman who was always at the club.

She was standing next to the guy who turned his back on me. Now I was being waved in by the same guy. Turns out, I was right; the guy was the owner Howard Stein and the woman was his girlfriend Tawn Christian. I’d happen upon some guys crowding her once and told them to step off (white folk, that means “leave her alone” ). I’d forgotten all about that. She hadn’t.

Now not only was I getting into Xenon, but I was also getting in free.

It’s not easy getting to the guy on top, but once you do that makes it much more manageable. Put another way, if you know Jay-Z you now have access to his infrastructure. Work your relationship with Jay first. If you’re interested in just milking connections for whatever you can get, you will quickly be found out.

Once that happens, you’re DEAD. Jay makes a call telling people you’re a dick, you are done done done.

Safeguard your relationships.

I learned the hard way to guard your relationships like its water, and you’re in the desert. At one point, I’m riding high thinking my shit don’t stink (white folk y’all got that I assume), so I bring my boy Lee who invites his boy Lenny who invites his girl Ghetto to Studio 54. I don’t remember her name, but Ghetto fits. While working through the crowded dance floor, Ghetto steps on the foot of a Princess. A real honest to Jesus Allah Jehovah Buddha Kirby Princess.

That was bad enough, but Ghetto acted her name. I’m still surprised the Princess’ bodyguards didn’t shoot Ms. G. That’s kinda what saved me. I quickly owned up to bringing the group that almost caused an international incident. What else could I do? It’s a fair bet we were the only Black people from the hood there. Ghetto’s “YEAH, WHAT? That’s what you get for BE IN IN MY WAY!” Made it more visible.

When wrong, apologize.

If possible, bring up the wrong and take responsibility before you’re summoned to explain yourself. Trust me, seldom will that not get you points.

My apology featured:

  • A promise never to bring thugs with me again.
  • A plea to continue coming to Studio 54, the highlight of my life.
  • A plan: “If you want to bust a cap in the back of her head, I’m ok with it.”

That I said to the bodyguards a laugh from those guys and a hug from the Princess saved my Studio 54 privileges. Roger slapped me on the back, then whispered, “Michael, well done, but if it happens again, you’re gone.”

Consider who brought you in.

No one can control how someone you don’ t know will act. If the Princess wasn’t even-tempered if Roger was in a bad mood, if any of those were in play—I’m dead at 54. Roger then makes a call, I’m gone at Xenon, I’m gone everywhere.

Never again would I make the mistake of hooking someone up with people I don’t know. Roger may have been fired if the incident had turned into a critical issue why? Because of his relationship with me. He was the reason I was there, and in business, if you bring someone in, they are your responsibility at the start of their involvement.

Remember, most likely, YOUR contact has a boss.

Don’t sever a relationship when someone is fired.

This may be the most crucial part of my Studio 54 philosophy.

Roger going to 54 worked out great for me. He was truly touched when he was gifted with the original artwork.

Xenon was my favorite club; however, this was Studio 54.

I was getting into the most famous nightclub in the world and for free.

Talented People always end up somewhere else.

ALWAYS.

Charles went to a new club ‘X’ Roger went back to Xenon, and Mark from 54 ended up in LA, where he was on the door at a few clubs.

Wherever those guys went, I had carte blanche.


A lot of people are dancing a gig on Dan Didio’s grave. Dan isn’t dead. Far from it.

He’s got almost two decades of insider information from one of the two top comic book publishers on Earth. Dan possesses relationships with world-class talent, and there is no-one except idiots who won’t take his call.

Dan did great things at DC that non-competes he no doubt signed don’t mean shit in reality. All it does is buy DC time to change some internal workings. It also stops Dan from writing DC COMICS: THE UNBELIEVABLE STORY OF SUPERMAN’S METH HABIT.

That’s a joke title, everyone knows Superman does not do meth. The hardest thing he does is drink coke he tried snorting it but sneezed and blew his dealer’s head off.

Yeah, that was uncalled for. I’m going to remove it. But if I do that, you won’t see I did such a noble thing. That means its YOUR fault that silliness is here.

Wow. GROW UP, will ya?

If Dan’s non-compete is one or even two years, during that time, he’ll be working on what his next act is anyway. When my year-long non-compete with Motown expired, my next project with Simon and Schuster was announced a day after it ended. By the end of the month, the project was in the market place.

Dan will not have any problem maintaining his boss’s status because he’s a smart, talented, capable executive.

The dumbest— I mean DUMBEST— thing a creator without the influence of a significant playa could do is go online and bath in a glowing victory they had nothing to do with.

Figure out what real power is.

Roger, Charles, Brian, and Mark, actual power wasn’t because they were the doormen at elite clubs. Their power is WHY they were the doormen.

The doormen at clubs like 54 and Xenon were not just some lucky guy who filled out an application. Anyone could recognize Mick Jagger or Andy Warhol.

Doormen at 5-star clubs were put in that position to spot CEO’s, Senators, royalty, and the like.

Could you spot those people?

Many doormen from the Studio 54 era came from an Ivy League school, an influential, wealthy family, or both.

Don’t take it personally.

Dan was once a friend. I did a giant solid for him, and he never returned the gesture. How could he? His boss tried to destroy me, and Dan would have been an idiot to cross that line.

I’m gonna do exactly what I did when Disney canned him. I’m going to call and offer him a hand. If he needs anything and I can be of some help, I will.

It’s never a good thing to rejoice when someone is suffering a setback.

Once Frank Sinatra was the biggest star in the world. He fell hard from that and was back playing very small singing gigs. Also, an actor his acting career was all but dead. He had to beg to audition for a part in the movie; From Here To Eternity.

He won the Academy Award for his role.

Just like that, he was a headliner again. Within a year, he was the biggest star on the planet again.

Remember if a person screwed you once they may do it again. They may not, but why chance it?

Sinatra never forgot those who were there when he was on top but deserted him when he hit bottom.

Keep the true nature of all your relationships on the down-low.

What many young people don’t understand about influence is this; let’s say you said nothing about Dan’s dismissal. If buddies with someone who did that puts you at risk.

It works another way also.

DC Comics has relationships with many of my Bad Boy Studio Mentor program alumni. Although DC wants nothing to do with me.

Almost to a person I’ve heard this from my former students; “Michael, would you mind if I did x for DC? “Or “Say the word Mike and I’m done with them.”

The ability to remove a revenue source from a company is real power. Why haven’t I done that?

I did.

Twice I killed a project that directly affected my house. It wasn’t revenge; it was business.

When I was a kid, I read The Fountainhead. I loved that book. Then I grew up. Now the book and its writer, in my opinion, are jokes.

I will admit the characters in the book are excellent as examples. Everyone wants to be Howard Roark, the novel’s hero, a brilliant architect of absolute integrity.

Not me.

I’m Ellsworth Toohey. Like Toohey, I’ve built an influential brand command a large part of (Black) content talent and distribution.

UPS Hilton Hotels and DC learned I’m a dangerous opponent AKA the wrong nigga* too fuck with.

As is Dan Didio.


*Writer’s notes yet again: The use of ‘nigga’ in this narrative means imposing dangerous and formidable. It’s a hip-hop term used in this manner, not a racial one.

Michael Davis, uncut: The Dream Killer

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Every few years I write a real world advice article for young creators. My Bad Boy Studio mentor program has produced some exceptional graduates working in comics, television, illustration and related media.

I’ve also taught and/or lectured at The Joe Kubert School, Pratt Institute, The School Of Visual Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, the High School Of Art & Design and yadda, yadda, whatever.

Quick note; Yogi Berra said it best: “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”

So save your “Davis is bragging bullshit” comments for someone who hasn’t done what I’ve done.

You do that, and I’ll spare you how I wrote the curriculum for the Art School of the Museum of Modern Art and how my name is on a arts magnet school in East Orange New Jersey and, no, I didn’t write MOTU187 in spray-paint on the building.

Every few years I do a recurring “art of the deal” series a step by step retelling how some of my ventures were born. The title was a complete rip from a man I once had a lot of respect for, Donald Thump. I thought I’d use the title of his book to pay tribute to the man.

mein-coifI now regret that and have since I called out any black contestant for appearing on his television show The Apprentice. I’ve been on a Fuck Trump campaign way before he started running for president beginning years ago when Trump started his birther bullshit. After a few interviews where he demanded the first black president of the United States of America “show his papers,” I’d had enough.

Needless to say, I’ll no longer be calling my series on deal making the Art of the deal. It could have been worse I could have called it Mein Kampf 2, which people tell me is the title of Trump’s next book.

Believe it or not, my focus is and will always be educating young creators on the very real way business is executed in a very hard creative field.

Trying to navigate from home to an unfamiliar place is hard enough, made a lot easier with GPS. The sad fact is many young creators, particularly those of color, don’t have such a GPS. Shit, for that matter most don’t have a car. Since many parents lack the resources to allow their sons and daughters to “follow their passion” on what they consider a hobby or see as a pipe dream, learning the correct information just won’t happen.

Put another way the arts in the inner city isn’t considered a “real job.”

That’s the number one response from parents of young artists when asked what they think of a career in the creative arts.  Lacking the support and motivation to push the issue, these young people enter a private world where all by themselves without guidance try to become the next Jim Lee, Karen Berger or Denys Cowan.

That self-contained place leads many to develop an unrealistic view thinking talent is the only thing needed to break into comics and parallel careers.

Further, from reality, these kids will never be.

This fantasy world made worse when the artist, actor, writer or photographer meets someone in the field they admire. If that person shines them on, their idealistic view filled with hope is validated.  That false hope does more harm than good ten times out of 10.

My very first advice column written for The Comic’s Buyers Guide some 20 plus years ago received a loud chorus of Shut The Fuck Up from some pros. One pretty well-known artist said I was “killing dreams.” People thought telling young men and women to show up for appointments groomed and on time was somehow a bad thing.

I’m not kidding.

Because as you no doubt know, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings and every time an artist takes a shower a Davis kills a dream.

Those who voiced their opinions were quick to point out I knew nothing about the comic book industry and these kids should ignore my suggestions and just have fun. All they need is a little talent and love.

By that logic, anyone who can hit a free throw and loves basketball is a candidate for the NBA. Perhaps starring in a reality television show makes running the country something anything any lying racist can do.

If you love to watch porn, that won’t get you a porn star girlfriend. Only hairy palms and bad eyesight. Oh I’m sorry, did I kill your dream of getting a porn star to be with you? Trust me, it’s not that big a deal. Been there, done her and her friend.

You need considerably more than talent, and I’ll share what that is once again but with a twist. Instead of using an example of what I’ve done and how I’ve done it. I’ll use examples of two deals that I’m working now. One project is a graphic novel project I’m doing with a well-known personality the other is an on going or limited series.

I’ll break down the graphic novel deal on Bleeding Cool and the series on ComicMix.

Neither have media deals yet, and it’s entirely possible they won’t.

No matter how successful you are, unless you’re bankrolling the venture soup to nuts “no” is always a possibility.

You’ll know why they didn’t sell or why they did as you’ll be there from start to finish. My hope is these articles help make a dream of working in comics come true for someone.

Then I can kill that dream by telling them about deodorant.

Michael Davis: Forever Ago & Yesterday

beefsteak-charlies-ill-feed-you-like-theres-no-tomorrow-73079953

My boy Marvin Haynes and I just knew we were going to get caught, go to jail if lucky, get shot if not.

Nassau County in Long Island New York once (maybe still) had the highest paid police force in the country. Some of the homes in the Five Towns area of the county were so grand as a young child I thought they were department stores. That highly paid police force made sure nary a worry would the residents of Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett have.

There was very little crime in Nassau County and no black people. The only place you would see people of color in Five Towns were the shopping malls or the cotton fields. Cotton fields? Can’t say I ever saw them, but I was born free.

Give that a second…

MARVIN COMIXMIX6This was a community African Americans were not welcome in and the towns made no attempt to hide that. The city council must have been high when they green lit a shopping mall that featured low cost anchor stores black people loved. Most likely they were unaware that black people could read or perhaps figured we wouldn’t

But I think they were high.

Mays, Times Square Stores, (TSS.) and Korvettes were Mecca to poor black people back in the day. Throw in a Robert Hall store and poor black people living in the hood would gladly travel a great distance at least once in their lives to shop there. The funny thing is poor black people lived rather close to Nassau County but distance does not equality make.

Marvin and I lived in Far Rockaway Queens or as we called it, the Rock. He lived in Redfern, I was from Edgemere. Both were housing projects in different hoods and if you were from one you didn’t even think about going to the other.

Think, Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, Crips and Bloods, Yankees and Red Sox, Ted Cruz and a clue.

Five Towns was surprisingly close to both of us. That’s because for some reason Far Rockaway is considered Queens and not Long Island. That’s mighty curious considering you have to pass Nassau County to get to Far Rockaway coming from most places in NYC. Just the name alone, Far Rockaway, would make those unaware of its location assume Long Island.

I wonder if it has something to do with all the poor people of color living there and Long Island property values. Far fetched? Maybe, but consider the world famous Beverly Hills California street Rodeo Drive. It’s pronounced ro-DAY-o. Fun Fact: Rodeo Drive runs from Beverly Hill all the way to the hood.  However, where working people of color live it’s no longer Rodeo Drive (ro-DAY-o Drive), it’s now simply rodeo and its pronounced rodeo, as in bucking broncos and the like. That must be because of all those black cowboys who live there.

Whatever.

Marvin and I met at Five Towns that cold September Saturday night to have our first meal as future Masters of the Universe. There were no suitable eateries for such a moment where we lived, so it was off to Long Island.

That night became the most important night of my life up to that point. That evening we changed from boys to men and did so in the belly of the all-white beast. That night we faced down the beast that had wrought our lives in the past by limiting our future.

That was the night the future became our future. That September we became who we are today. So much happened that night but I remember it all without much help from my journals. I can’t believe how crisp in memory that night is to me still, It seems that night was both forever ago and yesterday.

Oh, and we robbed a white boy.

Yeah, we robbed a white boy, that’s why we were running. We crossed Rockaway Blvd at breakneck speed. It’s a miracle we didn’t actually break our necks. My cousin, Ronnie, had both legs broken when he tried that stunt a few years earlier. That was forefront in my mind. So why risk being crippled or perhaps death?

Let’s see, arrested in Five Towns or death?

No contest.

Our destination was Mays and its connected mall. That’s if by some divine miracle we made it, we figured we could lose ourselves amongst all the other black people there. But two black kids alone and outside in Five Towns we had no chance and we knew that.

I’m sure there were and are people in Long Island that welcome African Americans as they would any other American with respect and kindness. I know because I met one a long time ago… on that very night.

Rockaway Blvd. is a massive street, 4 lanes of traffic heavy with cars, the preferred route to JFK airport and the two massive shopping centers positioned on opposite sides of the Blvd. We were now across (thank you, Jesus!) the Blvd. and the bright red neon lights of Mays lit the way to our escape route, its connected mall.

We stopped running and resisting the urge to skip in happiness as we approached the welcoming doors of Mays. About 20 feet from the entrance the door opened and an officer appeared walkie-talkie in hand. He held the door and motioned us in… shit.

Part 2. Take The A Train                          

Two Years Earlier…             

It was my first day at the High School of Art & Design. I didn’t know anyone, nor did I care. This was the first day of a true to life dream come true. From that moment in 6th grade when I was told there was a high school where you could study art I was determined to be admitted there.

I have never wanted anything so bad before or after. It was at Art & Design I started to develop a keen sense of my own life and what would be important to me. Somehow, I knew those scant years I spent at A&D would be the best years of my life, and they have been.

I was filled with joy but I was also a kid from Edgemere so when I met this Marvin from Redfern I was on guard. Edgemere and Redfern were always at war and I had to represent the best I could.

We unofficially met on the walk from the Lexington Ave 59 St. Subway Station. But I noticed him when I made the switch from the A Train at Broadway Nassau to the 5 Train. You tend to notice people from other Hoods more when you are away from yours.

Before long it was obvious we were going to the same place, but neither of us said anything to the other. This was our ritual for about two weeks. He would get on at the beginning of the line, Far Rockaway Mott Ave. Four stops later I would get on at Beach 60th Street.

Our official meeting came on a cold winter’s day when I had taken train back to Mott Ave. There was a little chance of me getting a seat at 60th street and in the cold of a Far Rockaway winter I wasn’t the only person backtracking to Mott Ave. There were so many people doing it the odds of Mott Ave. riders getting a seat was greatly reduced as well.

At Mott there were a ton of people waiting to get into the car. Marvin was one of the first into the car, on impulse moved my backpack off the seat next to me to allow him to sit down. “Thanks” and “Sure” were our first words exchanged.

Before long we had worked out a system. Depending on the time of year it was pretty easy to figure out when the seating situation would warrant action. To that end I’d save Marvin a seat if I backtracked and he’d save me a seat if I didn’t.

We soon became good, no, great friends.

The day Marvin told me he was a Fashion major, I was amazed at how much I’d grown since entering A&D. My first Redfern friend and he was gay on top of that!

To my surprise I had no problem with it. Up to that moment I’d spent my entire life thinking gay meant faggot and that meant sissy, punk, homo, pussy and assorted other names I’d knock a motherfucker out today for calling any of my gay friends such.

Back then I was a product of my environment. The atmosphere today in the black inner city is not much better and the black church isn’t helping much. But that’s another story someone can bitch about having no superheroes in.

It wasn’t until I saw Marvin leaving the 5th floor bathroom heading towards the up staircase to return to his 7th floor class, I learned he wasn’t a homosexual. “Why didn’t you just use the 7th floor bathroom?” Marvin stopped, looked at me then he started laughing. “Good one, Mike.”

At Art & Design, the 7th floor restrooms were unofficially reserved for homosexuals.

This was part of the magic of the High School of Art & Design. Two black kids from warring hoods could become the best of friends, a tradition of stupid prejudices wiped away in a few weeks and life long friendships you would know were going to be just that, life long friends.

One of the happiest and saddest days of my life was the same day. My graduation day was so bittersweet, even now thinking about it I’m moved from a huge smile to tears. It was that day Marvin and I decided we would not drift away as friends. So, a few months later there we were in Five Towns enjoying what, to both of us, was our first ‘adult’ meal at a real restaurant. Beefsteak Charlie’s was an upscale eatery as any Marvin and I had ever encountered.

Our waiter was Jim, a white boy not much older than we were. Jim explained the menu items, but patrons who were getting up, placing some money on the table and leaving without so much as a goodbye to the woman at the cash register. Their waiter or the guy who leads you to your seats captivated both of us.

This was a culture shock like no other. There was no way we would even think about rolling out like that in the places we eat at in the hood. After the novelty had worn off and Marvin and I settled down for our first mature feast and it was what we thought it would be. All the talking on the phone about our new lives as college men and our bright future seemed to truly be within our grasp.

Then Stevie Wonder ruined everything.

Part 3. Songs In The Key Of Life               

Long before Twitter, Facebook, Google, or even the Internet, word of mouth was the social network. Without a doubt the biggest buzz in every hood (it seemed) all over the world was the release of Songs In The Key Of Life that very day.

As if the world knew it would be, it became Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece.

Once Marv and I got on that subject we talked of little else. “Man, if we didn’t have dinner we could have brought the album…”

And that, boys and girls, is how Marvin and I ended up running across Rockaway Blvd after ripping off Jim at Beefsteak Charlie’s. To this day whose idea it was to fold a single five dollar bill so it appeared to be a few five dollar bills, making a false run to the bathroom, which was inches away from the entrance, then calmly walking out only to brake into a crazy run as soon as we were out the door, has been the subject of the longest debate of my life.

Marvin swore it was mine and I swore the idea was his.

I could tell you precisely who came up with what part of our master plan from memory and Marvin could also. This was part of our routine. We would embellish the story each time we talked. After a while all it took was one word from the story such as Mays or Jim to crack us up. Man, that story never got old and never ceased to get a laugh from each other or whomever we told it to.

Laughing was the last thing on our minds when the officer holding the door open at Mays said, “The store’s about to close, you guys better hurry up.” Hurry up? Hurry up and get arrested? When we got to the door the cop turned out to be a security guard who was locking the doors because Mays was closing.

He wasn’t looking for us. It seemed no one was looking for us.

“I saw you guys jet across the freeway, whatever you want must be important. “ Marvin and I could not believe our luck. That luck continued when Songs In The Key Of Life was on sale.

Around 11 pm Marvin called my house to see if I had gotten home, I had. The bus we took from Five Towns let his lucky ass off right in front of Redfern. I still had a decent click to go. He had already started playing the album and I soon joined him while still on the phone. This was the back in day, Google Hangout.

We talked about the evenings adventure and our laughter would always peak when we talked about Jim. Jim the white waiter, Jim, whom two black kids from the hood ripped off. No idea at what time of the morning Jim stopped being funny or when Marvin and I realized we were better than that “from the hood” shit.

The High School of Art & Design made us much better than that so the next day we went back with Jim’s money. Jim was off but the lady at the cash register remembered us and knew exactly why we had come back. She put the money in an envelope, wrote Jim’s name on it and placed it in the register. She did this with a huge smile on her face the entire time.

She’s the reason I know there are people in Long Island who see black people as equals. Her boss on the other hand came at us like a mad man. He refused to listen to his cashier and demanded we wait for the police. Art & Design aside, we were still two kids from Edgemere and Redfern. In mid-rant he realized his situation when Marv and I stepped in his direction he stopped screaming.

“Tell Jim we’re sorry.” Marvin and I said to both the manager and cashier then we were out. We walked to the bus stop but then decided to just walk the rest of the way to Redfern. I’d get the bus from there. Best walk I ever had. I began the walk as a boy by the time I reached my house I knew I was a man.

Marv and I were true to our word and stayed in touch. There were pockets of time when we fell out of contact for a bit but never for long. He was the first of my A&D family to come to L.A. to see me. Years later he asked me to look after his daughter Ashli when she got to L.A. She’s an awesome actress and as Marv is like a family to me, she is also.

Ashli called me a few months ago and ripped me apart on a matter. Although, I didn’t agree with her reasoning, the last thing I should have done was debate her, but I did.

Bad, bad move.

She caught me pissed and feeling sorry for myself so I did what I do when that happens, I react like I don’t give a fuck and usually I don’t but she’s family and I should have been better. Yes, I’m dealing with severe depression but that isn’t any excuse. My illness is no excuse for anything except damage done to me. I know that shit. I wondered if I should have run the conversation by Marvin but I decided against it. I figured I’d call him after offering Ashli my apologies. I’m smart enough to wait until I’m better suited to handle disputes with people I care about so I haven’t yet.

Once it works itself out, I’ll call Marv and we’ll have a good laugh.

I haven’t been laughing much lately. I could do with the always-hilarious trip back to Five Towns via Memory Lane.

I’ll see Marv on Memory Lane many times in the future but we won’t make any more trips there together. My friend, my brother, my boy, Marvin Aaron Haynes, passed from this earth Oct. 1st 2015.

That was over two weeks ago. Since then I’ve done little but write this and write my shrink a check.

So much for my weekly return to Bleeding Cool, ComicMix and life as I knew it.

Earlier I joshed about someone bitching about no superheroes or for that matter comic’s related fodder in what is now the longest single article I’ve ever written.

Fair enough.

I went to A&D to become a cartoonist ended up never taking cartooning. I went another way. Those types of things are to me infinitely more interesting and informative than another, you can see Spiderwoman’s ass cheeks article. Yes, these are personal insights and not for everyone but there are plenty of people who write for everyone.

I write for those who want to see beyond the narrative of an article. An artist’s work is his life and my art, regardless of the medium, is fueled by events from my life. This particular event was to be the backstory for the Static Shock / Rocket, Milestone graphic novel, ‘the roof, the roof is on fire’ I wrote more than 20 years ago for the original Milestone.

It was to be Vigil’s coming of age story taking place in the future. When I was part of M2.0 I was going to revisit and update it. Now I’d consider doing that with M2.0 but I’m done waiting for answers.

Lastly I write for those out there who want to do what I’ve been lucky enough to. To achieve any level of success those who mentor, advise and teach you must share more than what any book or website can teach you. They must share real life facts about any profession in all its gritty reality. That goes especially for those who mentor black kids. Tell them the truth warts and all. I’m sharing this for everyone who has a person in his or her lives there the moment you became you and regardless of who you become they accept that person.

Hopefully that person not only shares that moment but also joins you in it. Like Marv and me. The following is just for Marvin but you’re welcome to read it.

Marvin,

Only love could get me back to Rockaway, and I loved you but damn Negro, could you have waited a click? You knew long before my bout with depression how much i dread flying. Once I was diagnosed, flying was something even my shrink said was a bad idea. Dude, because it was you, I brought a plane ticket and reserved a hotel room for the trip back to Rockaway for your New York memorial. You know I’ve much respect for those who live and work in the Rock, I’m from Edgemere and proud of it. That said the Rock took half of my family, so I’d just as well stay the fuck away.

Sunday night I arrive at LAX and all is well. Checking in, finding my gate and boarding could not be easier and as luck would have it, I’m in an exit row. You looking out for me, Aaron? Yeah, it took a while but you knew I’d call you the ‘A’ name before I saw you again.

Now about seeing you again…a funny thing happened on the plane. I started to have a panic attack the moment my ass touched the seat. I left the plane, left my luggage, laptop and meds, exited the terminal, and went to my car and for the next hour cried like a little girl.

I thought you’d like that. Yeah, I cried, Negro, you would have also, that was a brand new Mac.

I’ll miss you, you sexy BITCH.

Your Boy.

A&D always, Friends for life, Family forever.