I really do love drawing. It relaxes me, it takes my mind off of things, and it can make me feel like I’ve accomplished something on those days when I accomplish almost nothing at all.

I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember and I can’t imagine that I’ll stop anytime soon.

Drawing has gotten me into trouble on more than a few occasions though.

It’s gotten me kicked out of class. It’s angered family members and drawn my attention away from important things like school, loved ones, and bettering myself as a person.

Drawing is like booze for me. It’s easy to get caught up in and it’s even easier to get lost in.

Granted, I’ve never woken up in a naked puddle of pencil shavings and no memory of what I did the night before, but still, you get the point I’m trying to make, right?

For example, in one of my grade school science classes my teacher asked the students to bring in something from home for an experiment we would be conducting the following week. He suggested that a baseball might work, or a basketball, or even an apple – basically something roundish – something that could be easily rolled.

I honestly don’t recall the specifics of the experiment or what we were testing and more than likely this is because I didn’t care.

I was a terrible student.

I was a worse student than Dr. Phil is a therapist.

I was a worse student than Casey Anthony was a mother.

I was a worse student than Dom Deluise was a sex machine.

The following week most everyone in the class managed to bring in something roundish, and something capable of rolling – most everyone, except my friend, Mark.

To put it bluntly, Mark was a bit of a dunderhead (yep, I typed the word dunderhead) and Mark forgot to bring something in at all. With nothing available my dunderheaded pal opted to try and roll his pen.

He failed miserably.

And I mocked him mercilessly for it.

The pen flipped and plopped and occasionally slid, but it never really came close to something anyone might consider a roll. It was a pathetic display. It was a pathetic display put on by a pathetic young lad and he deserved everything I tossed his way.

Just when he thought I was done making fun of him, I decided to make him the lead character in a comic book called Pen Man.

In no time at all, my little seven-page joke was making its way around the class. My friends liked Pen Man. The class liked Pen Man. They liked the drawings and they appreciated that it was poking fun at Mark.

A few of them wanted a copy, so I made some photocopies and sold them for a buck each.

Not long after that, they were clamoring for a second issue.

The character of Pen Man had become so well known that people started referring to Mark as Pen Man. Like nicknames tend to do, Pen Man stuck.

In fact, people were referring to, Mark as Pen Man more than they were Mark, which of course annoyed him to no end.

When I moved away a few years later, I kept on drawing Pen Man.

I don’t really know why I did it. Mark was no longer a part of my life and I was at that age where selling homemade comics to people at school would have succeeded only in getting me beaten up.

“You like drawing comics, nerd? Then you’re going to love drinking toilet water.”

Characters from Pen Man spun off into their own titles, new characters were created, and soon enough my little brother (who came up with a few characters of his own) and I had created, Novak Comics.

I know, it’s a pretty creative name, right?

Well into High School, I was still drawing Pen Man. I drew him home. I drew him on the bus. I drew him in the library. I drew him at lunch, and I drew him in class – continuing my legacy of truly awful studentry.

I know “studentry” isn’t technically a word. Shut up. No one asked you. Keep your damn mouth shut.

Now, you might think I would have eventually stopped scribbling on typing paper in my free time and stapling the pages along the edge, but I didn’t.

When I should have been soaked in booze and buried to the hilt in lady parts in college, I was still drawing Pen Man.

When should have been going on dates, and meeting women, and applying for jobs, and planning my future, I was still drawing Pen Man.

When I graduated, moved to California and got married?

Yep, I was still doing it then – at least for a little while.

Eventually I wised up and put the kibosh on the adventures of Pen Man and the whole Novak Comics thing as a whole. It was hard to do, but it had to be done. By that time I’d probably drawn well over five hundred issues – which is sad, terrifying, and just a tiny bit impressive – in a sad and terrifying sort of way.

For years since, the Pen Man books have been gathering dust in my office. The paper is crinkling. It’s turning yellow and its getting brittle. Even the staples are beginning to rust. These things weren’t made to last, and because of that I spent the better part of a year scanning and categorizing every single page of every issue. I even started to put them online.

I couldn’t just let Pen Man rust away.

Too many things go away in life.

Pen Man didn’t need to be one of them.

There’s a part of me that hopes Mark is still out there somewhere and he’ll somehow stumble onto them during a break in his regularly scheduled internet porn routine.

Maybe, for the briefest of moments he’ll remember how much he hated it when everyone called him Pen Man and he’ll cruse my name through clenched teeth.

That’s the kind of stuff that brings a smile to my face.

– Steven

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