JOURNEY INTO MADNESS!!
I have (ahem!) a new book out, and you can read all about it elsewhere in this weeks paper. In fact, go ahead and do that, and let me know whether or not they used the picture of me where Im standing on my head. Ill be right here.
Finished? What Id like to discuss now are the illustrations for the book and how they got there. Paul Proch did the drawings. Paul Proch (rhymes with "roach") is probably the least-known famous artist in the world. Hes been in a number of art gallery group shows, including one in Eeklo, Belgium. He had two animated films shown on "The Uncle Floyd Show." He illustrated my two most recent books, including "Cthulhus Back in Town," which to date has sold almost 9 copies. The "Cthulhu" drawings comprised Pauls most celebrated work until this year, when Paul designed and drew the sketchbook for the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." All those creepy sketches of Kate Winslet with bat wings and skeletons that you saw Jim Carrey laboring over, that was Pauls doing. Paul then parlayed this Big Time Hollywood Celebrity-Studded Breakthrough into the plum assignment of drawing all the pictures for my "Custom Neon Sign Shop" book, for a cool thirty dollars, of which most has already been paid with the balance ($7) on the way just as soon as we sell a few.
Just how did Paul manage to fall so far, so fast? Youd better sit down for this. Its a sordid tale indeed, filled with sex, murder, and insanity.
THE PAUL PROCH STORY
I met Paul nearly 30 years ago, at the NYU Science Fiction Society, where he never spoke and drew a lot of robots and mutants. His robots always had a sort of forlorn look about them, like they had been badly repaired with shoddy parts. I dont even want to think about the mutants. While at the NYU film school, Paul hooked up with Charlie Kaufman and in due course they began collaborating on all kinds of things; Paul shot his senior film at Charlies parents house with Charlie as his cameraman, and eventually they started publishing stories and one-offs in the old National Lampoon (including a Stephen King parody called "Egg Boiler" in which (cough!) I make a cameo appearance as CIA agent Billy-Jeff Scrimshaw). They wrote a play called "The Fat Zip" which was performed in Madison, Wisconsin to (says Paul) "glowing reviews," and a screenplay called "Purely Coincidental," which they sent to Alan Arkin to see if he might be interested in directing it. Arkin sent back "a really nice letter" (says Paul) telling them it wasnt a screenplay but "an insane tone poem." He was at least half-rightI dont know about tone poem, but insane is putting it mildly. Its been 20 years since I read it, but I believe that one of the characters is Don Knotts, and theres another character who looks exactly like Don Knotts, and theres an execution where the cleric administering last rites reads, instead of the traditional sacrament, Dr. Seuss "Green Eggs and Ham." The WHOLE book.
Undaunted, or at least not totally daunted, they worked on a book for a Minneapolis publisher while they both worked in a Minneapolis art museum (Paul was a guard) but abandoned it halfway through because "the publisher was a nut." Considering the source of this observation (Paul), the mind reels. They wrote spec scripts for "Married... with Children," and "Newhart" and a pilot based on "The Fat Zip," and Paul was the best man at Charlies wedding, and finally Charlie broke through as a writer for the sitcoms "Get a Life" and "Ned and Stacy" and from there to the astounding screenplays for "Being John Malkovich," "Adaptation," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Paul, meanwhile, descended into insanity and murder, by day a high-ranking government official and man-about-town, by night a blood-crazed cannibal serial killer.
Or to put it another way, he did the illustrations for my books. He did one for "Wing Ding at Uncle Tugs," for a Calvano and Picarillo story, that creeped out the publisher and me so much we just couldnt bring ourselves to use it. Then Charlie asked him to do the drawings for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and he did. Although Paul and Charlie both adamantly deny that the Jim Carrey character is based on Paul, Carrey employs so many obvious Proch-ismsbody language, vocal tics, facial expressionsthat my ex-wife called after seeing a 30 second TV commercial for the movie and said, "Did you see the ad for this new Jim Carrey movie? He looks and sounds exactly like Paul Proch!"
Anyway, once the film was completed, Paul returned to his normal routine of murder, cannibalism, and spot illustrations for my books. The new one contains among other things, a picture of me drawing a monster face on a Spaldeen, and regardless of what the police find when they dig up Pauls basement, I will always be grateful that he drew me with HAIR. You can see it on page 48 of "The Custom Neon Sign Shop, now available at the Delaware Valley News office and perhaps in Eeklo, Belgium as well.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
The Further Adventures of Paul Proch!
John Boonstra writes more about Paul and Charlie at The Hartford Advocate.
Dawn Eden remembers a date with Paul circa 1983.
A couple of drawings Paul did for Richard Kostelanetz's "Complete Shorter Stories" can be viewed here (17 kb image) and here, (63 kb image).
Being Charlie Kaufman
Back to The Crystal Drum Page