My pal Milo likes to tease me about my statue obsession. He thinks I’m a sap. “I see you bought another action figure,” he snides. “No, no,” he says, correcting himself. “Not an action figure; a collectible figurine.” It’s impossible to explain comics lust to someone who has never been smitten.

The truth is, I gave the action figures to my kids years and years ago. They played with them and broke them. So I don’t let them anywhere near my statuary, which I’ve collected faithfully since the giants entered the business. I’m not the only one. You should see Dave Cockrum’s collection. You should see Harlan Ellison’s collection. You should see Paul Levitz’ collection. What a bunch of saps.

Giants, I said. You try sculpting a figure from clay or stone or wood or cow poop. It’s a lot harder than drawing comics. You don’t even need to know anatomy to draw comics. Just ask Rob Liefeld.

I’m friends with some of these giants. I collect phone numbers and email addresses, too. Some people have my three phone numbers and seven email addresses in their collections. This week, I spoke with one of my favorite giants, William Paquet, about statues and comics and Salma Hayek. William has sculpted some of the very best comics statuary around. Please note that this conversation was conducted at a men’s club in Ithica, New York, where William and I were constantly interrupted by half-nude women asking for dollar bills. Everybody collects something.

Cliff: Do you even like comics?

William: Yes.

Cliff: Really?

William: Yes. Can I borrow a dollar?

Cliff: [reaching into pocket] Which ones?

William: Which ones, what?

Cliff: Which comics?

William: For modern works, Sin City is my favorite. That’s not because I’m currently working on the franchise, but it’s why I’m doing the sculptures. Since the first time I saw Frank’s work on Sin City, I was stunned. I have never seen such stark and elegant renderings before. The illustrations are almost like antique woodcut prints, but with beautiful compositions. Add in the fact you have titles like “Booze, Broads, and Bullets” and I’m all in. [sips beer] I have most of the EC Comics collected works in hard-bound volumes. The horror stuff tops my list. I still re-read many of those stories. What do you think of that? [points to woman hanging upside down from a pole]

Cliff: [also sips beer] Very nice.

William: Big tits.

Cliff: That doesn’t make her a bad person. Where were we?

William: [thinking] Comics. I’m more a fan of the artists, than the books themselves. Batman is a great character, but I don’t own too many of the books. The Simon Bisley stuff is very cool. The Kelley Jones vampire books are killer, so to speak.

Cliff: Why sculpt as opposed to draw?

William: I’ve always been drawn to sculpture. Since I was little and dug clay out of a stream bed and started to manipulate it. It came very easy to me. I never learned to draw. I’ve not found the patience to learn perspective, and without that nothing looks correct. It’s too hard, and I’m not interested enough to invest the time to get good at it. Plus my brother Joe is an amazing painter, so I figured why not cross the mediums between kin.

Cliff: What happened to your rock band?

William: In 1987, I formed a band with a friend?”The Thing.” NY noise was our sound. We played CBGB’s many times along with most of the other nihilistic haunts downtown. We released a couple EPs on a small label and had an LP released on an Italian label called Contempo Records. It was a lot of fun. The guy I formed the band with, Sal Canzoneri, later went on to form a band called Electric Frankenstein. I think Dark Horse put out a book on their band art. Can I get another dollar?

Cliff: [reaching into pocket] Favorite sculpts of yours? Impressions of the comics-sculpting industry right now?

William: My faves… Marv, The Spectre, Vampire Batman, Dark Knight Returns, Nightwing, Lobo, Darkseid. Those are the main ones that I still smile at when I see them. As for the industry…shit! It’s gotten huge. So much product out there now. Some amazing sculptors working, too. Too many to list. A lot of talent. Still a good deal of garbage, though. It’s certainly not the business I started in 12 years ago.

Cliff: Which actress would you like to sculpt?

William: Salma Hayek bent over and looking back. Either that, or Kathy Bates squatting.
[points to stage] Now, if she could hold that pose long enough for me to get some clay?

Cliff: You’d both go to prison.

William: Hmm.

© 2004, Clifford Meth

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