Sometimes I just have to believe in serendipity, the world leaves me no choice. Take this latest turn of events. I heard back from Matt Huynh, the kind and helpful (and, oh yeah, talented) artist/illustrator I was hoping to persuade to collaborate with me. He knocked me back – very nicely – but suggested a number of other avenues to explore and individuals to approach. One of the first names on the list was Marcelo Baez.
‘Marcelo Baez,’ I thought to myself, ‘Marcelo Baez, Marcelo Baez…hmmm… that name is extremely familiar…why is that name so familiar…?’
I clicked on the link Matt supplied to Marcelo’s website.
There was Marcelo, and some of his extremely cool work, and the cogs in my brain finally turned, locked, and loaded. Marcelo Baez – of course! Llew and I used to work with him at The Australian newspaper ten, eleven years ago now. I think I didn’t recognise his name immediately because I just wasn’t expecting to know any of the people Matt suggested I contact. It just threw me for a second there, but wow, here was someone I used to work and have the occasional drink with. Hey! I know Marcelo! Better yet, I have great memories of this guy – we used to have a fine time. I didn’t take my job very seriously – I was flogging ad space at the time – so Llew and I could often be found loitering in Marcelo’s department disrupting whatever he and Barb were doing, which was always way more interesting than trying to persuade someone to book a quarter page full colour. Their department was an excellent place to hide.
But wait. It gets better. For my 25th birthday party invitation, we lifted the AKIRA poster, and Marcelo turned it into DIANA instead (“Bar Cleveland is about to EXPLODE!”). Marcelo used a photo of me to replace Akira’s anime head with a drawing of my own (I can’t remember how he did this, but I think it was a digital image), and then we changed all the credits at the bottom of the film poster into venue details. It was and remains the coolest birthday invitation I have ever seen, let alone sent out. I still have one somewhere, and I’m going to go find it the second I upload this post. My granddad kept his invite hanging for the rest of his life (over four years), and I had one old school friend collect those I sent other friends and tell me on the night of the party that he was saving them for when I “became famous.” Sorry, Stephen, old boy, you’re going to be waiting an awfully loooong time for that… maybe he’ll be able to unload them in the next life.
Anyway, I’m not done with this story. The thing is, this invitation Marcelo did for me inspired the original comic reference in the very first draft of my manuscript all those many moons ago. It was a reference to Akira, and there was also a minor character, a brief love interest of the main character’s, who was a comic artist. In subsequent drafts, this character’s role grew and grew, and now, aside from the narrator, he is the most important character in the book. Of course the character isn’t based on Marcelo, not at all, my comic artist is a figment of my imagination, but my fascination with comics and the people who draw them certainly dates to hanging out with Marcelo and Barb when I should have been making calls to potential advertisers. And the invitation is undoubtedly responsible – in a long chain of creative thought over many years – for that character’s creation.
So when I think of the collaboration I have in mind now, it seems that this peculiar twist of fate all but demands that Marcelo be the illustrator who comes on board. It is a perfect full circle if ever I’ve seen one, and all things considered, it really has to be him now he’s back in the frame. Don’t you think? It’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it now. He has to do it.
Marcelo may have very different ideas about this, of course, but I’ve already sent him a babbling “Oh my god, oh my god!” email, and I hope his memories of Llew and me are at least positive enough that he’ll consent to hearing me out. As I said in the email, I’m buying!