by Edrie of Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys
by Edrie of Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys
by E. Stephen Frederick
I first encountered Amanda Palmer at the Million Year Picnic comic book store in Harvard Square. She was 19. I was 21. I was costumed like a 1970s used Toyota salesman, having just attended a court hearing pertaining to my recent arrest by MBTA cops who suspected I was the Unabomber. Amanda (for reasons best known to herself) was garbed in an Amish hoopskirt with lingerie on the outside of it. Within seconds of meeting her, I recognized that she was monstrously loud, naturally shameless, and lacking all the myriad inhibitions that render most people boring. I felt a surge of relief that resonated to the very core of my being: here, for the first time in my life, was a female equal, who would never be threatened or upstaged by my own monstrous qualities. I invited her to join a parade of freaks promoting the Empire SNAFU show I had installed at the Zeitgeist Gallery. That meeting marked the beginning of years of heated collaborations with Amanda.
The continuity Amanda’s presence has lent to my life my is something I won’t attempt to verbalize, other than to say I am grateful for it.
Not surprisingly, I first encountered Neil Gaiman’s work in a comic book store too.
I was about 14. I examined his comics once. Briefly.
I did not think to re-investigate his work again til… 20ish years later at Amanda’s Cloud Club apartment:
“Hey! I’m thinking of working with Neil Gaiman professionally. You used to read a lot of comic books. What do you think of his work?” Amanda asked.
“It’s been awhile,” I replied, struggling to retrieve the memory, untouched for two decades, “but my impression back then was… that… Neil… Gaiman… only-wrote-comics-because-he-wanted-dorky-comic-book-store-girls-to-fall-in-love-with-him.” (I said, lapsing into snide 14-year-old judgmental-voice).
“That’s kind of what I’d thought too,” said Amanda, “but I just read a book of his short stories and it’s really quite good. You should read it too!”
I don’t think Amanda and Neil had met in person yet at that point, but something in the tone of her voice gave me reason to consider that Neil might be destined for more than professional interactions.
I read Neil’s book and found myself charmed, and when I spotted another of his books at my sister’s house, I borrowed, read and was charmed by that, too.
About this same time, I stumbled onto articles about the current lives of two comic book creators (contemporaries of Neil) whose work I had respected back when I was a snarky 14-year-old. Both of them have now stagnated into hateful, emotionally-crippled people. One practices a bitter religion of his own invention, based on gynophobia. The other is a pathetic armchair-fascist. I dug out some of their old comics that I’d once admired; rereading them with the hindsight of an adult, the seeds of their discontent were abundantly clear. I realized that plot elements, which I’d once interpreted as edgy, ironically-mocking metaphors, were in fact threadbare, depressingly literal expressions of their creators’ intent.
So I finally forced myself to reexamine the basic faulty premise of my 14-year-old self’s snarkiness towards Neil… Even if I had been partially correct, WHY ON EARTH SHOULD THERE BE A NEGATIVE STIGMA IN CREATING ART THAT ATTRACTS THE LOVE OF DORKY COMIC BOOK STORE GIRLS?
For decades, Neil’s inexhaustible wellspring of transportive fiction has brought happiness to people of all ages, in every form of media. And for that duration, Neil has also consistently maintained a public presence as a kind, ethical voice of well-reasoned humanity. If, in fact, Neil’s life has been driven by an unquenchable desire for dork-love, I can only wish that more of humanity were similarly afflicted.
I am delighted that Neil will be reading at our gala, and I hope that in the future he’ll get to experience a functioning Torrent Engine 18, and recall his earlier involvement as time not wasted.
And of course I am SUPER GRATEFUL for my amazing partner in all things:
The Dynamic and Wonderful Katrina Galore, who has masterminded this entire fundraising-gala-shebang!
Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer help Dorchester art space project
Boing Boing - Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer gala party on Mayan Doomsday at Boston’s Torrent Engine 18
Finally I can draw back the velvet curtain and reveal the secret performers for our GALA PARTY:
Amanda Palmer & Neil Gaiman
If, by some chance, you have no idea who these people are:
1) my condolences on your unfortunate incarceration
On the official Last Day on Earth, you will be sure to enjoy decadent music, mystery readings, and ritual burlesque while sipping fresh-fruit-infused libations by Booze Époque in a grand ballroom. If we are all going down, we are going down IN STYLE.
Want to go? Pledge one of the select $125 (or more) rewards—please read the reward carefully to make sure you are picking the right one (it will contain the phrase “GALA PARTY”). There are very limited guest spots (less than 200). Guest spots for the GALA PARTY will ONLY be available through this Kickstarter—no tickets will be sold at the door.
For the financially blessed, we have a personal theater experience to be performed by a bevy of Boston’s most well-known burlesque dancers—a tribute befitting the Apocalypse. Pick one of $200+ rewards that contains the phrase “personal theater experience.” Again, please read the reward carefully to make sure you are picking the right one (some of the higher-level rewards do not include a gala spot).
Reserve your guest spot HERE:
We made our goal of $10,000 with nearly two weeks to spare!
*confetti, streamers, ticker tape, CANNON BOOM!!*
We couldn’t do it without YOU!
Note: we’ll be making a special announcement on the GALA PARTY soon! If you want to attend, you can always up your pledge to $125+ and secure your spot (please read carefully to make sure you are picking the correct reward). The limited gala party guest spots will only be available through this Kickstarter—no tickets will be sold at the door, so be sure to adjust your pledge as needed by November 30th at 9pm.
New Kickstarter Reward!
For a pledge $500 or more, you can receive a RARE Squirrel Machine book with personalized drawing by its author Hans Rickheit. This is a signed, hard-cover first edition of Squirrel Machine with a unique personalized drawing of Torrent Engine 18 on the inside. The critically-acclaimed graphic novel by Rickheit tells the story of two young inventors coming of age in a New England small town, and contains thinly disguised biographical details referring to Hans Rickheit and E. Stephen Frederick’s actual youth in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. The first printing is sold out, and these copies have been generously donated from Hans’ personal stash. You will also receive a Empire SNAFU/Torrent Engine 18 T-shirt, webpage thank you, Empire SNAFU card, and music in addition to the book. This reward is limited to three.