Monday, September 16, 2002

Comics and Controversy II
I was at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland. My Sketchbook Diaries book had been nominated for two Ignatz awards, which gets voted on by all the folks who attend the Expo. Before the awards ceremony, I went out to dinner with a big crowd of cartoonists. It was a special night, so I got a stir-fry of green beans and frog legs. Fellow caroonist Tom Hart was sitting across from me (he was also nominated for an Ignatz award for his online Hutch Owen comic strip.). I asked him if I could have a bite of his Pad Thai. He said sure, if I promised to give him my Ignatz award when I won. I wasn't really thinking, so I said OK!

Later of course, wouldn't you know it, they announced my name as a winner for "Outstanding Series" for Sketchbook Diaries. I really wanted to give a good speech, something meaningful, but this is what I came out with: "I want to thank my cat Spandy, and my wife Amy, and all my friends for allowing me to draw them in the diary. But I'm feeling pretty stupid right now, because earlier at dinner, I traded my Ignatz to Tom Hart for a bite of his Pad Thai."

Then Tom came running up all the way from the back of the room, grabbed my Ignatz (which happens to be a brick... yeah, it's the coolest award), and, holding it over his head, ran back to his seat while the crowd laughed. It was funny; he was hamming it up, but the instant the brick left my hands I was struck by a terrible pain from my chest down to my stomach, like a muscle spasm. And as time clicked by, the pain wasn't subsiding. It was getting worse! Finally I went to Tom and offered to arm wrestle him to get the Ignatz back. You know, like, "double or nothing." Tom graciously just put it back in my arms and said I could owe him the bite of Pad Thai.

Within a few minutes, my terrible pain went away. And I lived happily ever after.
-- James Kochalka

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