Rusty's World


November 14, 2011
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Based on the title and the nature of this blog you might assume that this post is going to be about one of the Conan comics.

It isn’t.

It is really about the way different aspects of my life line-up and how things don’t really compartmentalize, as much as I  try sometimes.

This post is about books and comics and art and marriage and career missteps and poetry.

Somehow it always comes back to poetry.

So, last night I was in bed reading. My current read is a Conan collection by RobertE.  Howard. As I was reading I looked up at the wall to a framed print hanging there and the chain of events that brought me here.

I first read Conan, in comics form, when I was working at Mac’s in 1987. I worked the night shift and as much as you try to stay busy, there was down time. Soemtimes that was filled by watching old wrestling videos on the VHS rental kiosk. Sometimes in meant skimming through Rolling Stone or Spin magazines. Sometimes it meant reading Savage Sword of Conan and Conan Saga.

It was Conan Saga that stood it. It was reprints of the Conan comic in magazine form. Inside were classic Conans drawn by (as he was then known) Barry Smith.

I was a fan of Barry Windsor-Smith, through some other comics. Not rabid or anything… but a fan.

Jump forward to 1993. I had been working for a comic distributor called Styx. I worked there for four years and decided it was time for a change. I put word out and had three job offers (or tentative ones at least) in comics retail in the Calgary area (where I was living at the time). Before I made a decision I found myself visiting my hometown Victoria for a family reunion. While I was there I approached the owner of Island Fantasy, who also offered me a job.

While I was visiting I renewed my friendship with someone I had knwon well in high school. Before the week was up, I knew I wanted to marry her.

Short version: I took the job offer at Island Fantasy, moved back to Victoria and got married.

While I was at Island Fantasy we got a Barry Windsor-Smith Portfolio in that someone had taken apart and framed each piece. We took these beautifulpieces of art and made a window display out of them. I made no secret that I LOVED one of the pictures. It was an illustration of Paolo & Francesca. I really liked it.

Then, when Ruthanne and I were married, the owner of Island Fantasy gave us that framed print as a wedding gift. It hangs on our bedroom wall to this day.

(Things didn’t work out at Island Fantasy. It is the only job I have ever been fired from. Was it partly my fault? Sure. Was there also blame to be handed to a store that was being driven into the ground? Sure.)

Now flash forward to 2007. I was in my first full year as a spoken word poet and I was writing what turned out to be my breakthrough, signature poem: Why Art?

While I was writing it I found inspiration in a familiar place… Dante’s Inferno, specifically two characters, Paolo & Francesca, as brought to mind by a certain print on my bedroom wall…


So, was this about comics? Not really, but still…