I finally finished the art boards for “The Rise and Fall” for Plastic Farm Press. These six pages, I was sure, would be the death of me. It wasn’t so much that they were difficult, it’s that drawing a story about a man who can turn his belly button from an innie to an outtie, a very phallic outtie, tends to wear on you. I’d listen to Rafer go over the pages, and tell me how much he envisioned this guy looking like David Cross.

“I like it here, here, and here Jake. Watch here that he doesn’t get too boxed in the shoulders. Remember I want this guy to look pathetic. It’s important for the story.”

So what was supposed to be a three or four week project turned into a month and a half. I love Rafer, and the story really was funny. It was a social statement about our fifteen minutes of fame. A man discovers he has a bizarre talent. He goes on a local late night show and is an immediate sensation. He moves to Hollywood. He finds work in commercials. He becomes a success and lands his own sitcom. It’s only at his peak that the truth about the man is uncovered and his career comes crashing down. Doesn’t sound too funny, does it? Well, keep in mind we’re talking about a man with a four-inch belly button sticking out of his stomach. Every frame I drew this belly-cock was hilarious and disgusting. If you like the Farrelly brothers work you will like this story.

I work for a magazine publisher, which means around art directors and prepress staff. This gives me plenty of opportunity to abuse company equipment for my own purposes. I take the last two pages down to the scanning department at lunchtime. The department manager, Vince, is out to lunch. Perfect. “Marc,” I ask, “ Do you think it’d be ok for me to use one of the scanning stations to get this work digitized?”

“Sure,” Marc mumbles between bites of his vegetarian spaghetti. His eyes never leave his computer monitor these days. Not after he’s found his motherload of Dragon Magazine PDF files on the net.

I lift the lid to the large format scanner and set up my first piece. Rafer is going to be so happy I tell myself. He’s been hounding me about this work, and being able to finally give it to him is going to feel triumphant. There’s no money involved in this yet, but Rafer treats it like a real business. He’s going to make a great editor someday. I set the software’s controls up to scan the line art at twelve hundred DPI and do a preview scan. That’s kind of a high scan rate, but I don’t want to lose any of the fine line work I’ve put into these pages. To tell the truth, I think it’s the best thing I’ve done yet. Everything looks great on the advance image, so I crop down the scanning path and click on the “scan” button.

I hear the familiar whines and groans that all scanners make, and then suddenly nothing. Perhaps it’s due to the high definition in which I’m scanning. This could take a few minutes, I tell myself. Nothing. I go back to the computer and click on the desktop window of the scanning software. It’s frozen. I try to navigate around the Macintosh’s desktop. I’m unable, as the G4 is completely seized up. I try restarting the machine, and it won’t boot up past the extension-loading phase.

The next few hours pass very fast, and eventually when I leave work a half-hour late, and the machine is up and running again. I had to reinstall the operating system and the scanning software. The pages didn’t get scanned though, and I’m feeling pretty bad about the fact that I’ve already emailed Rafer and told him to expect them. Damn, I think, and the day started out so good.