Monday, May 4, 2009

How ABC Murdered My Favorite Ghost:

If you want to hear some music, while you read, scroll down to the illegally hotlinked Myspace music module I've put at the bottom of this post. It will start playing on its own.

Have you seen the man in the above picture? I haven't. Not ever. I used to talk to him pretty frequently, though. He's a spectacular line artist and a swell guy. He wrote and artistically rendered about two and a half years worth of material for New England Comic's famous, yet strangely not-that-successful series, The Tick. That isn't what made me like the guy, though. I actually didn't realize how much I appreciated his work, until I saw his non-Tick-related stuff.
Because of him, I sent in a submission package to New England Comics and, subsequently, never called them back when they showed interest, because I was "too punk" to draw what somebody else had written. Because of him, I found out about cool bands, like Cop Shoot Cop. Because of him, my parents found out I used to huff gasoline and other household ethers.
I never met Eli "5" Stone, but I miss him. If he knocked on my door, today, my couch would be his for the sleeping. I'd even consider taking the couch and letting him have my bed.

I haven't spoken with Eli in about seven or eight years. Our communications began to disintegrate, after he moved from Boston, MA to Venice, CA. He got married and, eventually, his e-mail address stopped working. He ran a flash site full of pre-production type stuff that he had laid out for a bunch of independent comic book projects. I kept checking on it, to see if he'd post anything new. He never did, though, and his domain eventually expired, as did the domain for (a horror and sci-fi site for which he did a lot of design work). I found out that he may have done some layout work for Cartoon Network's "The Venture Brothers", in 2003, but where would that get me?
I thought I'd struck pay dirt, when I found his old friend and webmaster, from his old HTML site, Lee. I asked if he'd heard from his friend, at all. Not in years. This was discouraging, because Lee actually knew him in a four dimensional realm. Lee had seen him move through time and space just like the rest of us. Lee had heard his voice in non WAV file form. Lee may have even touched him, yet he did not know where Eli was. It was as if Eli had, altogether, disappeared.
Am I eulogizing him, right now?

Eli was a charming guy. He seemed to swim in a cocktail of problems, wielding a red, plastic sword and laughing about it. He was so public and open about how fucked up he was or may have been that the sickest bits weren't only acceptable; they were endearing. You never felt bad for him, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want you to. He'd invite you to share his problems. Encourage you to start smoking, drinking and doing drugs, but he never treated you like a snob when you turned down his terrible, terrible advice. He was a true bastard gentleman. I've met other human beings who have seemed as genuinely casual as Eli, but they've all turned out to be pathological sociopaths. Maybe Eli was, too, but I care about him more than all of the other pathological sociopaths.

I met Eli through what I have to say was the strongest influence on my storytelling style, at the time. He helmed The Tick for two-or-so years. When he stopped, I had randomly found his archive, online. It was chock full of old sketches he'd done, when he worked at a copy shop. Weird stuff. Stuff that was, frankly, a lot better than anything he'd done for New England Comics. I told him how much I liked his non-Tick-stuff and he sent me a signed copy of the first comic he ever did (a comic that he spent a rent check to print-up, just for the hell of it). He tucked a little sketch of the tick, on the inside. I still have them. I actually framed the sketch in a little, 3x5" frame.
He was 26 years old, when he started working on The Tick. He was at least two years older than that, when I started talking to him.
I was 16. I'm 26, now.

Every couple of months, or so, there's something that reminds me to look for him. I probably still think about him a few times a week but, every once in a while, there's something that will pop up and remind me of conversations I've had with him. The most recent one; the one that inspired this blog post was a picture of one of my friend's tattoos. It was based on a Derek Hess sketch. Eli was friends with Derek Hess. In fact, the conversation we had about Derek Hess is what got him started on telling me about Cop Shoot Cop. Derek had done art for the band & he was jealous of Derek, because he really liked that band. He also stressed to inform me that, even though Derek had drawn a picture of cops pointing guns at each other, the name of the band was not about cops at all but, rather, about the cyclical repetition of heroin addiction (copping dope, going somewhere to shoot up, and going back to the park, or wherever, to cop some more). I still have a lot of those e-mails printed out and filed-away, somewhere (including the e-mail where I talked to him about my former romps in the world of household inhalants that my parents had found)

For a while, it wasn't too hard to find Eli, online. I could never find a way to actually contact him, after his e-mail disappeared, but one could always find whispers of snippets of whatever he might be working on next, should one run a web search on him. There would be the occasional annoyance of some shitty band that shared his name. For the most part, however, there was always that glimmer of hope; that new piece of Eli data, that fresh breadcrumb, that link that might bring me one step closer to being able to say "hello" to my lost pal.

That all changed, last year, with the premier of ABC's "Eli Stone".
Really? A show about a character, named Eli Stone, called Eli Stone? What the fuck are the goddamn chances? At least it doesn't take place in Boston, I guess.
All I'm saying, though, is that it's really hard to find a reason not to hate the Disney Corporation when they even fuck with my own personal life. I was on my way to finding this bastard again, until this goddamn show ate a hole the size of Coca-Cola out of Google and any other search engine on the web. Now, I'm reduced to searching for Eli Stone on Facebook and sending personal messages to any one that might be him. "Is it you? No? Sorry."

Fuck you, ABC.
I mean it.
Like, really. From the bottom of my balls, FUCK YOU!

In the meantime, I implore anybody who might stumble on this blog to contact me, if they see a bald man who looks like he could be Grant Morrisson or the real life Spider Jerusalem drawing pictures on the bellies of young women.

You're my only hope.
Unless you work for ABC, then you're probably just fucking with me.

"You can't see me now, but I'm watching over you.
All the clocks are broken."

-Cop Shoot Cop

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lomond said...

I had the humble fortune of meeting Eli in venice one saturday, about 5 years ago. We talked a few times, and then he was gone.
I too have tried to find his bald head. I see that his is back up. But I dont see an easy way to contact him. I have hope that the prodigal son will return.

Eric Blair said...

Man, that sounds like my exact story! He was such a humble and generous guy, and one of those geniuses who has things so figured out he just kind of exists outside of society. He's like a dark cloud of sunshine. A brooding, cynical ray of sunshine. A walkin', talkin', inspirational paradox. I'm glad he's had this effect of somebody other than me!
I've found that, when searching for him, if you look for "Eli 5 Stone," it narrows it down a bit. He has some posts on Twitter from February, presumably of this year, but who knows? Regardless, I've followed him and shot him an email. Good luck on your search, man. My own Eli-hunt on Google brought me here.

James S. Hayward said...

I can't find him either. Been looking for years. Once sent him what in retrospect was a sopping wet fan letter. He responded kindly, in depth and in closing politely turned down the offer of gay sex I hadn't written him. We exchanged emails for about a year and I would poor through his entire archive from time to time. Gentleman bastard. Twisted messiah. Pain-soaked hero. I miss his art every day.

James S. Hayward said...

Ha, and then a few days later I tracked him down. We're practically neighbors.

Miss Pooka said...

Story sounds familiar. In fact I am the girl in that picture. I am hoping to have just tracked him down if I am lucky.