Monday, August 06, 2012
I drew this poster for my friends who are hurting, for the city of Cleveland that is mourning, and for a man I didn't really know, but I've had in my peripheral vision for a very long time.
To explain Mitch Andelmo, for now I'm going to point you towards your best friend, Bridget Callahan.
12" x 18" prints of this poster are available over at the Shiner Comics Store for $5. All the proceeds will go to the Andelmo Family. If you live in the Cleveland area, and would rather buy one in person- email me and I'll make sure you get one. I should have them in hand by the end of the week.
When I started this piece, it was really just supposed to be the art for this print I had already agreed to do as part of the band All Dinosaurs' Kickstarter campaign to raise money for pressing their incredible new record The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. All the members of the band, and the majority of their fans and friends were really close to Mitch, so it felt right to do something like this for them. Still, I was pretty apprehensive about it maybe coming off wrong, or tactless... like I said, I didn't really know Mitch, just had a pretty strong sense of his presence.
Drawing a portrait of someone that you don't know well can be pretty tricky. Hell, drawing someone you DO know well can be pretty tricky. Luckily for me Mitch was two things that made this a much better piece than I could have ever done on my own. He was a goddamn gregarious person, and everybody who had ever even met him had many great stories and lovingly positive things to say about him. Secondly, he was the most photogenic dude to ever rock a pair of cut off jean short shorts and a wicked mustache. What this means is there was no lack of reference material to draw from, and I started to get a really good sense of him as I drew.
So, Mitch Andelmo. Like I said before, I had him in my periphery for a long time, years. The first time I ever saw him was at least six or seven years ago, I used to go to Cravings coffee shop in Rocky River to do work and exploit their free wifi for hours. I saw this angsty, young pup come in and chat up Lynn, the barista, chain smoke on the patio and drink almost as much coffee as I did... and sometimes more coffee than I did. Which, honestly, that's a lot of coffee. Sometimes he had his blazer on inside out, sometimes he was smoking these big ridiculous cigars, he almost always had on sun glasses and was almost always reading some beat up old book. Though I also chatted up Lynn, I never once spoke to this kid. I just kind of knowingly nodded and kept my eye on him. I felt this weird sense of... "Heh, I've been there. I was an angsty pup once too." Then, I'm not sure what happened. Lynn stopped working there, or I just stopped going there. I didn't see this fierce pup around anymore, and life kept moving, as it does.
The next time I saw this pup, he emerged from the crowd, probably at an All Dinosaurs show, probably at The Happy Dog. I can't really be certain. Even though I pay a lot of attention, all the time, I can't really place when I noticed this pup had become a full fledged, bearded or mustachioed, shirtless, short shorted, blazer rocking dude. It was around four or five years ago. All the sudden he was just around, which happens in Cleveland. People arrive without preamble, and just become ours. At any rate, he had shed the angst and really come out of his shell. I mean, more so than I've seen before or probably since. Which, again, I sat back, kept my eye on him and every other post-pup in the room, and thought "heh- look at that pup, all growed up".
I'll button this up with one last thought. Around the same time Mitch became this new fixture, I slowly backed out of the community. In fact, I took a big step back, stopped going to shows, stopped hanging out. In one capacity, I felt that as long as my work was out there, I didn't really need to be. As long as I kept a few close ties to this rather large group of people, a city of people, I could sit back in my Monastery, then Volcano, and tell them where and when to see good bands play and what sandwiches to eat. And I was wrong. I wish I had known Mitch in life, and not just through his incredible friends and the experience of drawing this poster. I've learned a lot in the past week, and one of those lessons I learned from him. This community of friends is really goddamn strong and loves really hard.
I'm here, so get at me.
Again, the poster is now available in the Shiner Comics Store. If you live in Cleveland and would rather not paypal, send me an email and we'll hash it out.
EDIT: I'd like to add that you can make a donation to the family at this Eventbrite page: HERE.