Wrote a story for school. It's based on an actual person I once met, an artist by the name of Brom.
I walked into the convention center. I was there to meet a few artists and show my portfolio around. Really, the comic book industry is like any other art industry. You don't have to be good, you just have to be persistent. You only need to want it enough. I walked around the hall, checked the competition and potential collaborators, eyeing the merchandise like it might bite me. As I wandered, I saw the booth of an artist I'd heard of but hadn't known was attending. Huge prints of his baroque, Lovecraftian art hovered over him as he sat staring off into space. I got the impression that he wasn't fully aware of where he was. Nobody waited to see him. I made a mental note to come back after I'd hit all the booths on my list.
Toward the end of the day I came back to his booth. He was in more or less the same position, still staring off into nowhere, still fan-free. I walked up and stood in front of him, waited for him to acknowledge me. He didn't. I cleared my throat. Still nothing.
“Excuse me.” He started a bit, surprised, like he hadn't been expecting anyone to talk to him.
“Oh. Yes. Hello!” He smiled, tentatively. I noticed that it never touched his eyes.
“Could I get a copy of your new book?”
“Oh. Oh! Sure. Yes! Twenty dollars.” I handed him two ten dollar bills, the last of the money I'd allowed myself to spend on swag. He set a copy of his book, The Jack, on the table in front of him.
“Who should I make it out to?”
“Like this?” He uncapped a black marker and wrote J-A-Y on the piece of butcher paper which covered the table.
“Yeah, that's right,” I confirmed.
“Are you from around here, or are you just in town for the convention?” I asked, as he scribbled something inscrutable on the title page of the book. He sighed softly, marker frozen, and offered a too-long pause before replying, “No. No, I don't live around here.” He looked at me then, and I noticed a deep and profound sadness in his eyes. He still had a weak smile, hanging precariously, ready to fall off at any moment, but now I saw it for what it was: the sign he gave me to let me know that this was not my fault. I knew it as certainly as if he had whispered it in my ear, at length, a steady murmur of forthright apology, endlessly heartbroken and precise. I thought that if I lived his life for one moment, I'd be crushed under whatever burden had turned down his eyes and made his face so gaunt.
“I live up North,” he said to me, closing the book and handing it to me. “Is that your portfolio?” he asked.
“Oh. Yeah,” I stammered, still reeling.
“Can I take a look?”
“Sure.” I unslung the black nylon portfolio from my shoulder and handed it to him. He opened it and starting paging through my drawings. He was in his element, focused, looking at everything critically but rarely lingering on any one drawing. He stopped at one unfinished piece toward the back, something I had only included as an afterthought. I'd given up on it because I couldn't get it to work, had been too frustrated by it.
“It's the only one here you cared about. Finish it,” he interrupted.
“You think...?” I asked. He nodded, already disconnecting.
“Oh. Well. It was nice meeting you. Thanks for signing this,” I replied, reeling. He nods, and waves his hand.
“You too. You're welcome,” he says.
I collected my portfolio and walked away from the table, lost in thought, book in hand. Eventually, I remembered to read his inscription:
Some days are easier than others.
That's all for now.