One of the functions of youth, I suppose, is that it gives you something to look back on with a mixture of horror and nostalgia, depending. I was just rummaging through/organizing stuff in my mini-storage locker, the goal being winnowing its contents down and moving the rest out, hence relieving Michele and I of what is now a non-essential monthly expense.
Buried amidst the treasures and dross are many examples of my older work, which I just perused with no small horror. I’ve never slacked. I always worked very hard at what I was doing. But, Jesus, so much of it is wretched and ugly. Ugly in style, execution, content. Rigid and overworked. I also read some of my old columns (from 1990) for Screw, in which I was tasked with reviewing “adult” comics. So much vitriol. I guess it was my job, but yeesh. I actually feel a bit ashamed. That’s not to say that most of what I’d reviewed didn’t deserve scorn, but there was such callow self-righteousness, smugness and malice in my words. Some of it is kind of funny, but still. I always tried to find some praise-worthy offering to balance the column, but I dunno. They’re predominantly nasty pieces of work. Much of it is attributable to being at the time 25, recently divorced, resentful and angry. But that doesn’t excuse everything. The first issue of From the Ashes was recently reviewed by some youngster online who seems to take the same relish in trashing stuff as I did at his age. Hopefully he’ll learn. If not, he’ll have plenty to look back on twenty years hence and feel embarrassed about.
And my own offerings in comics. (Deep sigh.) It’s a hazard publicly learning as you go, and I am glad that things go out of print. This summer, at a hippie-ish store upstate, Michele saw a copy of an adult comic I did in ’91. I asked her not to tell the owner it was my handiwork, but she did anyway. He, of course, then wanted me to sign it (to presumably—ha!—make it more salable). I inscribed it “With regrets, Bob Fingerman.” To paraphrase Sinatra, “Regrets, I’ve had a few / And when I do, I have to sign ‘em.”
In the recent years my work is finally getting somewhere close to being almost what I want it to be. But the past. Oh, golly, the miserable past…