I mentioned that my art blog with Mike Newman My Black Dad was being mothballed in my retrospective 60 Years of Mister G Kids. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking since then that I haven’t given its passing its proper due. Today I came home really tired and just wanted to throw something together quickly called “Tired” or “Sleep.” After I did it, I noticed I was lending it a dark and sad tone, and I realized it was kind of the subconscious full-circle conclusion to this very first post on My Black Dad nearly three years ago in February of 2009:
Scared, hopeful, unsure of what’s to come. That’s the little Matt you see in this drawing. A big change from the worn-out, lonely child in the new drawing I made tonight.
I don’t want to over-analyze my work. I do want to make sure I give props and love to Mike Newman. I had a wonderful journey with him working on the blog. Simple fact: there would be no Mister G Kids without My Black Dad. My work with Mike re-energized my faith in drawing, and opened a whole new world of collaboration and social sharing and confidence. Not to mention that the very first Mister G Kids comic appeared on My Black Dad.
And now the story of “Goo.” This post is called “Once Upon a Goo” because My Black Dad was originally called Two Goos in One, a nod to a silly sound that Mike and I and others in my grad school days made to help us get through the long slogs. If I recall correctly (and feel free to correct me, Mike, and I will fix it here), it is based on a comment made by the artistic director of The Old Globe Theatre Jack O’Brien. Jack saw a run-through of one of Mike’s shows and remarked to him afterward, “You remind me of a young Laurence Olivier,” or some other old-school thespian, and ever since that comment, Mike and his classmate Neil would go around telling all of us, “You remind me of a young Judy Garland,” or “You remind me of a young Jack Kennedy,” and on and on until it reached the heights of ludicrity.
Eventually it degraded to simply saying “You remind me of a-” in the hallway without finishing the sentence, and eventually a play on the sounds in the phrase “YU reMAH mee-u-vuh,” and finally just explosions of a single consonant, evoking an inability to express rational thought due to being so starstruck by the reminiscence of the subject of one’s greeting’s resemblance to a young Ralph Richardson or John Gielgud. This consonant eventually became the letter “G” with various vowel endings. The favorite settled on “Goo!” but “Gah” was also used.
After years passed, Mike and I and some others who remembered the old days would greet each other with a small and polite “goo” or a more elaborate “a-goo” and not laugh or even smile. It was a way to say hi. And like all secret handshakes and other masonic codes, it indicated with a just single syllable so many years of shared history.
The fascination with “goo” doesn’t stop there: I can’t express the excitement I had at discovering the game World of Goo, or when Alan Alda says “goo” in the song “It’s a Fish” from The Apple Tree. Anytime we find a “goo” in the world, Mike and I immediately share it with one another.
As a final remembrance – my little brother Mark, as well as other babies I have met, called their baby blanket a “goo.” You will see I have my goo in both drawings. I believe I lost my real goo at Kennywood.
That is the story of “Goo.” The reason I renamed the blog My Black Dad is another story for another day, but I will tell you it has something to do with our African-American fathers.
And now, Goo-d Night!