Regis Francis Xavier Philbin, elfin television presenter and former sidekick of Rat Packer Joey Bishop, exited the closed set of our world on July 24th at the tender age of 88. Regis was unique in that he was genuinely beloved by a broad range of people, and was an ebullient, welcome presence on the small screen for literally decades.
I am now in the unique position of confessing that in 1996, I secretly attempted to form a cult around him.
I assert the following to be truth. My intention for decades has been to draw a comic strip about it, but frankly, rendering it would be gilding the lily. The story and the people involved are cartoonish enough already.
I’m old enough to remember when Bill Maher was a stand-up comedian; i.e., a person who stands behind a microphone and makes people laugh. I have vague memories of Kathy Griffin doing the same thing. As far as I can determine now, Maher and Griffin just make people mad, by saying or doing something deliberately inappropriate, and then flaying open their breast in apology, crocodile tears a-flow.
Then they go back to being unfunny. Because funny ain’t what pays their bills.
More integrity and realism than anything Maher has done since.
I’m also old enough to recall when Maher’s show Politically Incorrect lived up to its name, instead of being a vehicle for trendy virtue-signals. My pal Jim Goad once made an appearance. It was far more fringy and loose. Now it’s a reductive caricature, a safe forum for “differing viewpoints” (vetted by the network/sponsors). It’s a funnier joke as it is than anything that ever came out of Bill Maher’s mouth.
If I could go back in time 20 years, and tell my 24-year-old self that I’d be signing my own comics at Criminal Records in Atlanta’s Little 5 Points, I wouldn’t believe it. Mostly because at 24 I was incredulous about the feasibility of time travel.
Three years ago, in jail, more than one dude told me I looked like Bruno Mars. I don’t see it.
I’ve guested at comic conventions before, but this was Criminal Records. They’ve had an almost mythical status since the 1990s, and their old location (it’s now Stratosphere Skateboards, another local business I highly recommend), which I visited often even before I lived here. It had cartoons drawn on the walls by Skip Williamson, Evan Dorkin and Bob Burden, just to name a few. I want to say Patty Leidy was up there too, but I’m going on memory here. Continue reading →