Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Past is Another Country

Jack Gaughan Illustration for "Small Talent," Asimov's, May, 1979

In 1979, I sold a story to Asimov's, "Small Talent," which was illustrated by famed science fiction and fantasy artist Jack Gaughan (1930-1985). In the story (and the image) the human is a lawyer, the alien, his client, and they are in court, plaintiffs in a big civil suit. It was a funny, biter-bitten story, with a tomato-surprise ending. 

I wrote to Gaughan and asked him if he would be willing to sell me the illustration. I didn't know at the time that he'd been nominated for the Hugo Award out the wazoo, and that he had won it thrice. I'd been looking at his cover art for years without knowing he'd done it. 

He was gracious enough to sell me the illo for, I recall, all of fifty bucks. Mixed media–ink and I think Cray-Pas on scratchboard, maybe, and for years, I had it hanging on my office wall.

Gaughan and I struck up a correspondence–this was back in the days of snailmail–and kept it going until he passed away. I never knew he was ill. One day, I got a letter from his wife telling me he had died. Whoa. 

Part of what we did in our back-and-forth was to add cartoons to our envelopes. Somewhere in my house, I have maybe a dozen envelopes with his drawings on them, funny, well-done, and I have no idea where they went.

For some reason today, I felt the need to find those drawings. So I started digging through my correspondence from about 1980 until 1985.

I didn't find them. A chore for another day. 

But boy, did I have a fine time looking at copies of letters I sent and received during that time. Man, was I ever an obnoxious, snappy-patter know-it-all thirty years ago.

Nice to know how some things stay the same ...

Of course, most of the people with whom I was corresponding back then seemed to be be big on snappy patter, too, other writers, artists, editors. 

Maybe it was the times ...

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