It’s a Wonderful Life – Part One

To a lot of people (my wife included), I’m the luckiest guy they’ve ever met. I can’t disagree very much with that observation, although a lot of that luck was self-generated.

There’s a saying that’s really true: “Fortune favors the prepared mind”. Luck doesn’t do you much good if you don’t know what to do with it or aren’t prepared for it when it lands in your lap. There’s another one that Rick Griffin made into a T-shirt: “Fortune Favors the Brave”. You gotta take chances once in awhile to get some place new in your life.

So, a lot of what to the outsider looks like extraordinary luck on my part is actually the result of combining whatever luck rolls my way with hours and hours of hard work, preparation and belief in myself for that potential moment of opportunity.

There were some great gigs I didn’t get. At the time, I was angry and, sometimes, even a bit bitter. In retrospect, I thank god I didn’t get those jobs because, quite frankly, I wasn’t ready for them. I would have fallen flat on my face. What I am saying here is you can’t let the “ones that got away” get you down. Move on. Get better. Be prepared for the next time.

This “luck” extends to my private life as well. I wouldn’t have had so many adventures and cool tales to tell if I hadn’t first done the job of putting myself out there so that these adventures and situations had the possibility of occurring.

On my first trip to Europe, I arrived with a hundred bucks in my pocket and expected it to last me for a month in England, France and Spain. I also had pre-purchased a EurailPass to cover some of my travel. I had such a great time meeting folks in France (they were so unbelievably friendly and generous to this young American boy) that I ended up not using the pass in France. Instead, I hitchhiked everywhere so that I could meet more French people. One guy who picked me up drove me four hours out of his way to take me to my destination, a distant aunt-of-an-aunt’s (she and her husband didn’t own the place but they ran it) exclusive hotel chalet between two tiny villages (a couple of hundred people in each town) in the middle of France. He wouldn’t even except the gourmet dinner offered to him by my relatives. Off he went!

Most of my best memories are things that I’ve done with my sons. Most of those memories would not exist if I hadn’t taken a month off after Comic-Con each year to take my family on a long vacation to a far flung part of the earth or America.

This travel-and-adventure philosophy comes from two events in my past.

The first was reading Errol Flynn‘s autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways. In that book Flynn expressed his goal of living two lifetimes in one. I decided to up the ante and try for three-in-one.

The second event occurred in Hollywood.

I used to be the biggest movie nut you ever met. I’d see nearly everything, especially if it was horror, science fiction or fantasy. I attended FilmEx, a huge film festival in Los Angeles, every year. I would go to movie marathons, in which you enter the theater early Friday with a sleeping bag, food, drinks and a handful of diet pills and then not emerge until Sunday evening, watching film after film after film the entire time. And then I’d go home and watch a couple more on TV.

OK; you get the picture. I was a little obsessed.

So, it was a sunny day in my then hometown of Hollywood. I was cheerfully walking up the street when a friend of mine, Nordy Roblin, spotted me from his car. He pulled over and shouted, “Hey, Bill! Where are you going?”

I excitedly proclaimed, “I’m on my way to see a new movie!”

Nordy frowned and looked at me like I was the world’s biggest schmuck.

“Going to see a movie?” he smirked. “Wow. Two hours alone in the dark.”

Then he looked right into my eyes.

“You could be having your own adventures instead of watching someone else’s.”

That observation hit me like a ton of bricks. From that point on, I began to schedule annual adventures to exotic places, the great cities of the world and to lands of unspoiled nature. If I couldn’t afford it, I would still figure out a way to make it happen. This all perfectly dovetailed into my determination to pack three lives into one.

That’s my introduction to a new series for my Journal, It’s a Wonderful Life. The title is from one of my ten favorite films (as you might be able to tell, my love for movies did not stop having an effect on my life). These will be sporadic and random, written as they come to me or when I have time.

Inspired by Rutger Hauer character Roy Batty‘s (allegedly improvised) soliloquy at the end of Bladerunner (www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_saUN4j7Gw beginning with “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”), It’s a Wonderful Life will be a sharing of vignettes covering what I consider some of the the best moments of my life.

I hope you’ll enjoy them.

5 Responses to “It’s a Wonderful Life – Part One”

  1. Jeremy slawsky says:

    Cool! Excited to see what comes next. You’ve been on a journal marathon lately bill!

  2. Bill says:

    I feel bad when there are too many gaps.

  3. Scott Conner says:

    That sounds like a great idea, Bill. Had you ever considered doing some autobiographical comics short stories, akin to what Sergio Aragones is now doing in his “Funnies” series?

  4. Jim says:

    Bring it on, Bill. I can’t wait! And I second the notion of doing a series of auto-bio comics. I liked that one you did years ago after meeting an east Euro cab driver and his story about shoes.

  5. Bill says:

    I LOVE autobiographical comics! I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a whole comic of autobiographical stories. But I’m so damn slow when it comes to doing sequential stuff (and it doesn’t pay)…

    In addition to the “Shoes!” story for the 911 book, I also wrote and drew a true autobiographical story, “Eyes!” for Dark Horse’s “Autobiographix” book.

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