steep in me, o muse.

champion chai

this seductively condensating iced chai latte was prepared for me by all-star barista ryan, back in the summer of aught-nine, just when i needed it most. at the time, my attempts at comprehensive comic creation were being filibustered, as always, by my crippling self-doubt. given my extensive library of unfinished projects, the populace was understandably losing confidence.

but i found that cloture could be successfully invoked in champion coffee‘s cozy back garden, an urban oasis away from the distractions of my meticulously cluttered apartment. at the ends of afternoons, i’d retreat from a day of false starts and frustrations with just my sketchbook and pencil, eliminating the temptation to defer the infinite uncertainty of ambitions with the dependable tedium of paid work.

desperate to avoid discovering my artistic ineptitude, i’d push my pages aside and sketch the food i had bought. day after day, i sat in the fading late-august sunlight, squandering what was left of my marketable youth, drawing to procrastinate from drawing. and oddly enough, this worked; with the unexpected confidence gained from a successful scribble, i was able to hammer out an hour or two of work while the day lasted. (and yes, this is why my comics are so short.)

uncle eph says some people are weeds and others are orchids. some of us will thrive and produce under any circumstance, while some of us need the conditions of our environment to be just so. he, of course, is of the former variety; the world has not yet conceived of the sustained drought or sudden frost that can keep him from painting, masterfully, breathlessly. and yet he is a dedicated apologist for the latter camp, attempting to comfort me with the observation that the most delicate flowers are often the loveliest to look upon. still, i can’t help thinking the line between “orchid” and “degenerate slacker” is almost imperceptibly fine.

the champion sketches accompanied our rather exhaustive discussion of the cafe’s deceptive splendors a few months back. one of them grew up to become the fine, upstanding illustration you see above. the others are all degenerate slackers.

[ this illustration was drawn for the zinester’s guide to n.y.c., edited by ayun halliday and forthcoming from microcosm, wherein it will hopefully appear. as always, you can re-size the image to your screen by clicking on it. ]