Friday, December 21, 2012


     I wasn't worried about the supposed apocalypse happening December 21st this year, based on the "end" of the Mayan calendar.
     BUT... check this out:
     That's the My Little Pony calendar I have behind my desk at work. The kids love it, of course, even the boys (bronies), and a girl named Maya had asked me if she could HAVE the calendar when the year was over. I said sure, and jotted a note on the calendar, on the last day of work before we leave for winter break, so I'd remember to take it down and give it to her.
     Look at that. Our last day of school before break happens to be the 21st! The day of the Mayan Apocalypse!! And the girl's name is MAYA!!! Is it just a coincidence? I thought nothing of it until recently, when there's been more and more talk about December 21st and the Mayan calendar. I suddenly looked at that date square and was like, "Oh, HELL no..."
     What if "Maya" is really an earthly avatar of the Mayan Apocalypse? What if she's merely masquerading as a student who frequents the library, and I'm the only one who even SEES her?! What if on the 21st she comes into the library like usual, and then sheds her earthly form and turns into a Mayan Goddess of Destruction? Like Kali, only with turquoise and, like, leopards or something?
     Oh, lordy lordy.....

Thursday, December 20, 2012


     The first weekend of November (yeah, over a month ago and I'm just now getting around to posting this) we drove to Vegas for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, which is part of the annual Vegas Valley Book Festival. The Comic Book Festival was a one-day event on Saturday, November 3rd at the Clark County Library and its environs.

     The Clark County Library had invited me to be a special guest, along with Aaron Alexovich and Drew Rausch, at our publisher SLG's booth. Drew and Aaron have a dark and Lovecraftian new hardback graphic novel called Eldritch.
     It's like, really cool, and they drew a pretty picture in my copy just for me. Here it is:
Drew drew, and Aaron... aaroned.

     I was promoting The Royal Historian of Oz, Skelebunnies, Stitch, and my newest lil' cutie, The Weirdling Woods. (see THIS post)
     The festival organizers had also asked me to present 2 one-hour-long writer's workshops, and even though I feel like I barely know what I'm doing, I said sure. Confidence, bitches!
      The plan was to limit each writer's workshop to 12 participants, who had to sign up beforehand at the festival registration booth. About 15 minutes before the first workshop, Anthony and I swung by the registration booth to check out the sign-up sheets. I was fully expecting either NOBODY, or just a few people interested. To my surprise it was actually over-filled, and I ended up with about 18 participants for the first session.
     Ever the pessimist, I thought, "Well, I'm sure it's just because people really want writer's workshops, not because any of these people have ever heard of ME before." Which is totally fine, of course! Really. But then during the first session when I had people introduce themselves and say what they're interested in writing, a woman with two teens said, "Actually, we're just here because they're both big fans of your work, and we just wanted the chance to get to meet you!"
     So that was a really nice surprise.
     For the second session, the festival organizers tried to keep to the 12-person limit, and we only ended up with one or two more than that. They said they had to turn a bunch of people away, because there was so much interest in writer's workshops!
     In case you're wondering what I did for a whole hour, I used a PowerPoint to introduce myself and show my various works. I had everyone introduce themselves by name, what they want to write, and one thing they hoped to learn in the workshop. (Don't worry, I allowed shy people to "pass.")
     After sharing my own experiences regarding the creative process, and how I personally ended up getting published, I then talked about the importance of dialogue, particularly in comics. I described how a lot of my ideas begin as characters that form in my head and start talking. Dialogue is usually the first thing I start writing for a new project. I love that stage in the creative process when these different personalities are forming and having conversations, and it's like you don't even have to "try," you just let them speak and try to catch it all on paper.
     I reminded them that when we're kids, we ALL do this, EVERY DAY. It's what our childhoods are made up of, mostly. Inventing personalities and dialogue and adventures for our Star Wars figures, our Transformers, our Barbies, Smurfs, Monchichis, whatever. And it's EASY when you're a kid. Do you remember ever sitting down with a pile of action figures and sparkly accoutrements and saying, "Uh... I don't know what to say... I don't know what kind of story to tell..."
     As we get older, we tend to start losing that ability to freely play and create. Writers need to retain that, or to recapture it.
     So then I bossily guided them in a dialogue-writing exercise in which I passed around a big canvas bag full of all sorts of toy figures, and had each person select two. I gave everyone a sheet of lined paper and a pencil, and told them they had 5 minutes to write a dialogue between the two characters. They weren't going to have to show it to anyone, either, it was just for THEM. For FUN. I suggested they look at the characters and try to figure out what their individual personalities might be like, and how they might relate to each other. Maybe they didn't even like each other.
     I loved seeing the participants pair the Creature From the Black Lagoon with a pirate, or a dinosaur with a Bratz Baby. And almost all of them wrote like crazy, not wanting to stop until I called time, and even then hurrying to finish a thought. It looked like fun.
     I think I even said, "Language is a writer's toybox." Later I thought, Wow, that's such a hippy-dippy douchey kind of thing to say! But I did mean it, and I wasn't even smoking weed.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Dame Darcy and Tommy Kovac at The Comic Bug, 2006
     I was going through some old files, and found this picture of Dame Darcy looming balefully at my side from a November 2006 signing at The Comic Bug, in Manhattan Beach. It was a group comic book signing featuring Dame Darcy, Crab Scrambly (not pictured, he's shy), and Tommy Kovac, which is me. I was promoting Wonderland and Autumn, as you can see from the table display.
     Darcy wore a giant gold ribbon in her hair, played guitar and banjo, and chattered about raw food recipes. When she found out my husband is diabetic, she insisted that she'd have to have us up to her house in L.A. and make a raw foods dinner for us because we would love it. Of course that never happened. But it was exciting to talk about anyway, in that way you do when everyone involved knows it won't really happen because you're all too busy and self-involved but if you WEREN'T that way, you'd maybe be actual friends. Maybe.
     A week or two after the signing, there was a terrible fire at The Comic Bug, which you can see an after shot of HERE. As far as I know, I had nothing to do with that.
     So, yeah, this happened 6 years ago.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

IN THE DREAMHOUSE : Teacups with George and Rene

Not quite what it looked like in my dream, but actually cooler. This is the Teacup ride at Disneyland Paris, and doesn't it look awesome?!

     I had a dream that I was riding the Teacups with George C. Scott and Rene Auberjonois, and some girl from Ohio.
     It was kind of an anxiety dream, because at the time I was riding the teacups I really should have been packing back at a hotel Anthony and I were staying in. I've stayed at that hotel before in my dreams, it seems to be a consistent part of my mind's dream geography.
     We were there for some sort of comic book convention. It was the last day, and we were going to just get up and drive home, but I slept through my alarm and woke up at 3pm, totally missing checkout time, which was at noon. For some reason, we were staying in separate rooms, and of course MY room was a shocking mess of trash and clutter. Food wrappers, coffee filters with loose grounds lying all over the floor, photographs, bags of comic books and toys I'd been buying at the convention all over, bags upended and contents strewn. Clothes lying all over the room in heaps and tangles. I stared at my mess in despair, then began frantically trying to get it all cleaned up and packed.
     When I first woke up and realized the situation, I couldn't remember Anthony's cell number, and was panicking because I needed to call him and wake him up, too. I had a new cell phone and couldn't figure out how to use the contacts/address book, I just kept pushing buttons and trying to find Anthony's info in the stupid phone. Don't know why it didn't occur to me that I could just walk down the hall and bang on his door. Then I realized that the key to my room also fit his door, and it was in my pocket the whole time.
     In the way dreams work, despite the panic and anxiety about getting packed and leaving, and getting Anthony up and moving, I ended up wandering off to the Teacups, which were not affiliated with Disneyland, and were instead part of a themepark/carnival connected to the hotel.
     A friend of ours from Ohio was getting onto the ride with George C. Scott and Rene Auberjonois, and I just had to say goodbye to her, since Anthony and I were having to rush off.
     I jumped into their teacup, excusing myself for the interruption, but explaining how we'd woken up late, missed checkout, and needed to get the hell out of Dodge and on our way home. George and Rene were very nice about it.
     The girl from Ohio was excited because she was planning to move out to California where all the cool stuff is, and then we'd get to hang out more. I acted excited about that prospect, but was thinking that she would probably be annoying in longer doses.
     Before I could finish saying my goodbyes to the girl from Ohio, the ride started. George and Rene didn't seem to want to spin the wheel and make us go faster. I offered to do the spinning, but they hemmed and hawed. They're pretty old, you know.
     I woke up before the ride was over.

Friday, December 14, 2012


     (I wrote this silly little story for a friend who was bemoaning the overabundance of Christmas stuff, and the lack of Chanukah festoonery at work. I didn't feel like making the giant menorah with blinking battery-operated lights as she suggested, so I just wrote this instead.)
Erzsebet and the Dizzy Dreidel

by Tommy Kovac

Erzsebet was a good little Jewish girl, but she had dreidel problems. Her dreidel complained, like, ALL the time. As soon as she would start to play the dreidel game, and give the dreidel a whirl, it would moan, “Oy! I’m dizzy! I feel nauseous! It’s terrible!” So poor Erzsebet would have to gently stop the dreidel and lay it aside where it could recover.
You can imagine how difficult this made the eight nights of Chanukah. Talk about a buzz kill.
When her cousins came over to celebrate and play the dreidel game, Erzsebet gulped nervously. She thought maybe it could work if she spun her dreidel slowly and carefully. She oh-so-gently gave it a mild twirl.
“Ach! My head! I can’t tell up from down, left from right! You hate me so much you want to torture me like this?”
Erzsebet grabbed the dreidel and placed it on its side as her cousins laughed, clutching their stomachs with mirth. One of the boys scooped up the gelt, and Erzsebet did not even complain. I deserve to lose, for having such a difficult dreidel, she thought.
“Erzsebet,” moaned the dreidel woozily from where she cupped it in her hand. “Can I help it if I have vertigo, or maybe an inner ear infection? I consulted a medical encyclopedia, and I think I might have several different syndromes…”
The girl soothed the dreidel, and left her cousins to their pile of ill-gotten goods. She wandered into the kitchen where her mother was fixing potato latkes, and leaned against her side. The woman draped one arm around the girl, and squeezed her shoulder comfortingly.
“That dreidel,” her mother said with pursed lips and a raised eyebrow. “More trouble than it’s worth.”
Erzsebet took the dreidel into her room and closed the door.
“Dreidel, what if you close your eyes when I spin you? If you can’t see everything twirling around, maybe you won’t feel dizzy!”
“You want I should try that? After what I’ve already endured?”
The girl nodded her head solemnly, pleading with her big brown eyes.
“Not the big eyes! I can’t take the big eyes. Go ahead. Spin me and I’ll try it.”
So Erzsebet positioned the dreidel on its point, saying, “Okay, on the count of three, close your eyes!”
“One… Two… THREE!” and she gently, steadily gave it a twirl.
The dreidel howled even more than before, wobbling and gabbling about the nausea and the horrible vertigo.
“I need this like I need a hole in my head!” cried the dreidel, finally flopping onto its side.
Erzsebet froze, a sly grin creeping over her face.
“Dreidel, I think I have an idea!”
She snapped the handle off the top of the little dreidel.
“Did that hurt?”
The dreidel shrugged. “Eh. I’ve felt worse.”
The girl then took the dreidel out to her father’s workshop, where he helped her drill a medium-sized hole right into the top of the dreidel.
As the operation was performed, Erzsebet chewed her bottom lip worriedly.
“Dreidel, does THAT hurt?”
“NNNNYEAAAAAUUGH!!!” howled the dreidel. Then it stopped suddenly. Erzsebet’s father eased the drill out of the dreidel’s head, to reveal a nice clean hole. The dreidel said, “Hold on, now… That isn’t half bad. I feel… enlightened!”
Then it sniffed. “But drafty. It’s a little drafty now, on top.”
Next, the girl and her father sanded down the point of the dreidel, so that it would sit flat without tipping.
The dreidel frowned. “I’m used to always tipping to one side or another. This feels odd, not tipping. I suppose I just have to get used to it.”
Erzsebet and her father took the dreidel inside, to the menorah in the front window. They placed a candle in the hole on top of the dreidel, and lit the wick.
“Ahhh!” grinned the dreidel. “So I’m the shamash, now, am I?”
“Do you like that better?” Erzsebet asked, reverently moving the dreidel-turned-shamash from candle to candle, using its flame to light the other wicks.
“Well, it’s certainly better than all that spinning and nausea… But the wax is dribbling onto my head. You couldn’t find dripless candles? Would it kill you to find some dripless candles so I don’t have this gunk all over my head?”
“Oh, silly dreidel!” said Erzsebet, laughing. “You’re only happy when you have something to complain about! Now, hush while I do the blessing…”

*Happy Chanukah!*

Thursday, December 13, 2012


     This morning on the way to work I was cursing all the stupid moves other drivers were making. Not sure if it was because of the rain, or it being so close to Christmas, but everybody's acting like idiots. Me included.

     First incident:
     I was in the right lane, and another car was in the left lane, when a guy on a bicycle appeared, wobbling around in the lane in front of me, then he abruptly careened over into the left lane, and the other car had to brake and swerve to avoid hitting him. Then THAT car abruptly swerved right in front of ME, cutting into my lane without even signalling. And it had nothing to do with the guy on the bike. I growled, "IDIOTS! Both of you!"
     Second incident:
     I came up to a signal just as the light was turning from yellow to red, so of course I stopped. The car to the left of me, however, just barreled on through, and just barely missed being clipped by a guy coming from the opposite direction who was turning left, and had a legit green light. The guy with the legit green light totally SAW the idiot running the red light, but didn't seem to care. I think they came within an inch of crunching into each other.
     Third incident:
Johnny made me do it.
     I was in the right lane, following one of those big trucks that carries a bunch of cars on it, like baby marsupials clutching their mother. Know what I mean? I don't know what they're called. Anyway, I realized the big truck thing was going really slow, and didn't want to be stuck behind it, so I merged into the left lane, hoping to get around it.
     The left lane turned out to be slow, too, so the big truck thing pulled ahead and I lost sight of it. The MINUTE I lost sight of it, I completely forgot why I had switched lanes, and started to move BACK into the right lane. Then I saw the big truck thing ahead, and went, "Oh! THAT'S why I switched lanes!" and swerved back over into the left lane, not wanting to get stuck behind the big truck thing again. I'm sure any other drivers who saw me doing that thought, "Idiot!"
     My excuse for not being at all focused on the road or my own driving is that at the time I was listening to this entertainingly overwrought Johnny Cash Christmas CD, in which he very emotionally tells the story of Mary and the Baby Jesus in between verses.
     It's not a very good excuse.