Minutes With Cliff Meth
About god's 15 minutes...
fanzine writer to mature (or immature if he prefers)
few months ago, occasional Fanboy Planet contributor Jason
Sacks turned in an interview
with legendary writer Harlan Ellison. The occasion? Clifford
Meth, a friend of Elison, dedicating the proceeds from his
next collection of short stories and essays to Ellison's battle
that book could be released, it appeared that Harlan Ellison
won his battle, but not the war. Briefly, somebody posted
an Ellison story on an AOL bulletin board, and the author
sued AOL for its responsibility to make sure that they did
not facilitate internet piracy. A judge found in Ellison's
favor, and he has now started the KICK Internet Piracy Fund
to take the fight for creators' rights further.
now, that book, god's 15 minutes, is about to see release
from Aardwolf Publishing in April, with the proceeds going
to KICK. And we've been doing our small part to help Clifford
Meth publicize another shame in the creators' rights fight:
the plight of comic book creator Dave
this week, Cliff contacted me to give me a brief update on
Cockrum's condition, and then reminded me that he had this
book coming out and had forgotten to promote it.
the guy has already proven his loyalty and great integrity
in this industry. I had no problem indulging him in a little
vanity. I've never met him face to face, but I am grateful
for the chance to tout his work.
McCaw: Why the title, gods 15 minutes?
Meth: You may recall Sixties pop artist Andy Warhols
pithy statement that in the future everyone will get their
15 minutes of fame. Most of us believe that 15 minutes comes
when you appear on television, in a crowd scene or being interviewed
for your political point of view, as if anyone cared.
in view of the televised insanity we see practiced in the
name of various deitiesmadmen flying 747s into buildings
and blowing themselves up on crowded busesI though,
hmm, how clever; gods 15 minutes.
To be blunt, why should the casual reader pick up this book?
duh. Cliff Meth and Harlan Ellison.
For starters, its the only book that comes with a guaranteed-satisfaction
or money-back refund. Really. Aardwolf
Publishing has that much confidence that readers will
love it. The content is maturenot to imply that its
sexually beyond the PG limits, although it very well might
be. But Ive always aimed at the thoughtful reader; the
reader who is capable of digesting more than action and low
is essentially a collection of short stories that run the
gamut of science fiction, horror, and dark fiction, and theyre
illustrated by the legends of comic art, including Gene Colan,
Joe Kubert, Marie Severin, George Perez, Herb Trimpe, Dave
Cockrum, Mike Ploog, Joe Sinnott. Personally, Id buy
a book that even one of them were involved with.
What can they expect to find within its pages?
As I said, gods 15 minutes is illustrated fiction
for clever readers who like dangerous stories. Ive been
compared in recent reviews to Quentin Tarantino, which is
ridiculous because Im much better looking. Lets
just say these stories are from the dark sidetheyre
little troublemakers looking for a place to unfurl.
If forced to, how would you describe your own work?
As honest, and sometimes angry. I mean its not all
one thing, so its hard to pin down. I suspect that readers
who like Ellison or Vonnegut or Bukowsky will find that it
resonates with them.
The proceeds from gods 15 minutes, or at least some
of them, will go to Harlan Ellisons KICK fund. Id
say that your work on the Dave Cockrum tribute book ties in
to that same urge for creators rights. Would you care
to eloquently make a statement about that for Fanboy Planet
Its the KICK Internet Piracy Fund actually.
probably not coincidental that these two projects are floating
back-to-back. I am an enormous believer in creators
rights, in artists and musicians rights, and have
participated in these types of projects before. But really,
it comes down to friendship.
rather not do a song-and-dance for you about the rights of
the proletariat or the evils of Big Corporations. I do think
its a shame and an embarrassment in this day and age
that a man like Dave Cockrum, whose characters created an
empire, is currently worrying about how to pay his medical
bills and buy groceries.
Ellison, the man is my friend and I believe in his cause,
so helping him in any way I can just fits with the way I live.
When a pal of mine is in a fight, I see it as my fight, too.
are things going on the Dave Cockrum book, by the way?
Uncanny Dave Cockrum Tribute has new contributors
each day. This will be a whos who of the comics industrya
truly exceptional book.
Youre an Orthodox Jew. How much has your faith affected
your work, and in what ways?
Im a rather unorthodox Jew, too. And Im an American.
And a white man. And fairly short. Were all sum totals
of our experiences, our bloodlines, our special twisted eugenicsthe
metaphysical state of being in a certain place at a certain
think it would be fair to point to something Ive written
and say, Oh, well thats where we see the Jewish
soul peeking through. Of course, others might say it.
In Jason Sacks' interview with Harlan Ellison, Ellison described
an incident in which you
went Bruce Lee on (the)
asses of people who had said some pretty bigoted things.
Do you do that often?
No. Ive had my fair share of fights because Im
predisposed to attracting certain types of people, I suspect,
and I have a ferocious antipathy to bullies. Much of this
is the product of a misspent youth, reading Batman and Captain
find the circles I walk in these days dont typically
bring me into physical confrontations. I competed in the ring
for many years, so my reaction to the threat of violence is
somewhat different than the average guy on the street, whose
initial reaction to danger is to run. When someone threatens
me, they wake up with a crowd around them.
Lets delve a little into your background, since I think
a lot of the people that come to Fanboy Planet are somewhat
new to the scene. You spent time writing for fanzines before
going pro. How has fandom changed since you were on that side
The only real difference I see now are that the opportunities
for fans are greater. When I was growing up in the late Sixties
and early-mid Seventies, we had conventions and photo-copied
fanzines, and that was about it. Thats how we communicated
and participated in comics fandom. The introduction of the
Internet changed all that overnight.
message boards, webzines, and so forth. Anybody can e-publish
their own stories or art or reviews or what have you just
by uploading it to their own free little site. Anyone can
Blog. Its quite amazing.
Whats one of your most treasured memories of working
on the fan side of things?
I suppose it was getting published. At 15 and 16, I was already
seeing my stories set down in somebody elses booksplaces
like AFTA and No Sex and SF & Fantasy Verse. This was
enormously encouraging. I was meeting artists and writers
who were already further down the road that I wanted to travel,
and some of them became life-long friends. Bill Messner-Loebs
comes to mind.
just a very exciting time. And creators were much more accessible.
What a thrill it was to meet guys like Dave Cockrum and George
Perez and have them sketch for me. Who knew that two decades
later Id be working with them?
to a Dave Cockrum collection.
What do you think the comic book industry could be doing to
keep itself vital?
Thats a tough call, friend. If I knew, Id be selling
the idea. Vital as opposed to irrelevant? Well, that sort
of says it all, doesnt it? Stay relevant. We must all
stay relevant. Being derivative has led the industry as a
wholeif there is such a thinginto a state of diminishing
returns. Were down to one distributor, a third of the
retailers we had a decade ago, and sales of books are one-tenth
of what they were. Scary stuff! So relevance is the answer.
What do you dig in todays pop culture?
Every generation has innovators. Im not one of those,
you knowDads, I guesswho get stuck in that my-generation
trap. I mean the golden age to all of us is the time when
we first discovered the genre, whether its comics or art or
whatever, but theres this wealth of innovation that
comes from each generation, each sub-genre.
up on The Beatles, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, but Im
a great fan of much of todays music. I love the Chilli
comics? I think Jeph Loeb's stuff is as good as anything Ive
ever read. Pop culture? The films are getting better and better.
Peter Jackson is more important than Tolkein in my opinion.
Jet Li is better than Bruce Lee.
comment on television. I killed my television.