More often than not, the best part of my morning is that first steaming coffee, unless my pal Tommy Roberts joins me for bagels with cream cheese at Super-Duper Bagels in Livingston, New Jersey. There’s a little gal scurrying behind the counter there that we call Camel Toe. When you hit your mid-40s, these small things become much bigger.

My friend Marie Severin is enjoying the small things, too. When last seen in this correspondent’s musings, Marie was eating her breakfast off a Styrofoam tray, slurring her words and, unbeknownst to her, on the serious watch list at the hospital she was stuck at.

Good news: Today, Sev has moved on to an assisted living facility out on Long Island. It’s been a solid, steady recovery. Her spirits are high (but weren’t they always?) and she acts like nothing much has happened. And nothing much has. Except for retirement. Marie isn’t drawing anymore. Isn’t taking coloring assignments either. Time has finally caught up with the First Lady of Comics, and she’s spending her twilight years relaxing and doing fun stuff. Whatever fun stuff means. I know she still likes to watch Jeopardy. So don’t try and track her down to ask for a cover recreation. Leave her alone.

I mention this because I get letters asking me where Marie is and if she’s willing to “just do a small drawing.” I’m asked this by virtue of just knowing Marie; people find my name by-lined on an article and think I have nothing better to do than get them free art. I used to get those letters about Dave Cockrum and Don Heck. Right in the shit can they went.

Today, people are trying to buy up Dave Cockrum’s art, especially his covers. And they still come to me. Hardly anyone was interested in Dave when he was alive, but now that he’s a footnote on pop history he’s an investment. It’s a more than a little ghoulish, akin to Forrey Ackerman writing to Bob Bloch on his deathbed and asking Bob to sign “my last autograph ever before I died.” Too bad being a classless slob doesn’t hurt.

Here’s the advice part of my column: If you want art from an artist, start with, “I’m a big fan and I’d like a drawing of this particular character. Please name your price.” Then pay it. Don’t ask for freebies. And don’t negotiate. That’s an insult, especially to an old-timer who is STILL MAKING A LIVING drawing these little eBay-destined doodles. Try negotiating with your urologist instead next time you’re pissing blood.

Frankly, if I get one more letter asking for a freebie from Marie, I think I’ll blow an eyeball. I might track the idiot down and throw them the beating their father neglected to impart.

And believe me, if I find out they’re bothering Marie at her retirement facility and trying to chisel her out of her happy hour, I’ll do something particularly vicious and mean-spirited to them, and they’ll never be able to prove who did it.

And then I’ll report it back to the rest of you so it won’t be a total loss.

© 2004, Clifford Meth

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