PART 1: The Early Days.
It's difficult to pin point the beginning of a legacy. Especially one that has had so much bearing on one's life, so much direction and influence, but I'm about to try. This is my story, this is My Chemical Romance.
Thinking back, now - it was midway through the seventh grade, 2003. At that time, nearly every morning of my life I would wake up for school to the blasting sound of then-hardcore bands like Cradle of Filth, and System of a Down. As my brother and sister would often throw on some kind of abrasive pick-me-up to start their day.
Day in and day out, I become accustom to these sounds - to the pure, raw energy of music. Previously I had not been exposed to enough music in my life to pin point a fondness to any particular band.
My sister had started forming a love for heavy punk, and my brother had been accustomed to dark Norwegian death metal. As I was sitting stationed directly in the middle - not knowing which evil tasted the sweetest I began opening my mind to the possibility of 'music.' The radio, and alternative radio stations from that point forward, became one of my best friends.
It wasn't until the summer only a year later when my love for any particular band would really hit a high note, but I specifically remember my first real exposure to My Chemical Romance.
I was at my grandparents house one weekend - and after a very long day of bailing hay with my grandfather, I relaxed in a big blue lazy chair. Turning on the satellite which had not so strangely been left on the music channel by one of my siblings, there they were. Belting their hearts out in that iconic purple garage with the red stripe down the middle; My Chemical Romance. They weren't okay - and for the first time in my life I realized, neither am I.
I was lucky enough to form a bond with the band just before Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge was released, and scored a copy of the debut reprise record on launch day, on June 11th, 2004. Although I had a fondness for the band, and was so curious as to how they came to be - I wasn't yet connected so strongly to them then and I am now. It was a slow progression that spawn the first few My Chemical Romance shows I attended in the neighbouring big city of Toronto, Ontario.
There are some notable experiences during these times, but I'll spare you those stories for now. For now, let's jump ahead a few years.
After the summer break in 2006, I made my way to high school - I don't remember the bus ride or the vibe but it was a quiet start to the tenth grade. This was my first social appearance donning jet-black hair and the an over-small straight jacket from the mother ship herself, Hot Topic. After keeping to myself, and saying hello to an array of 'old' friends I made my way to the cafeteria at lunch. I specifically remember walking up to a girl named Jasmine, asking me how my summer was - it all spilled out.
Amazing, I proclaimed! I began explaining the summer I had had, and my growing connection to music. I believe this singular moment outed me as a 'fan.' From that proclamation of my musical interests, forward - I would associate myself as a fan of the minds and misfortunes of my [new] found idols, My Chemical Romance.
While I didn't reminisce to her about that summer, I will now.
I often found myself walking up and down the never ending array of dirt roads and secret passages of the countryside I called home, Wainfleet, Ontario. Up and down I would walk in the summer heat without a care in the world - and only an iPod in my pocket. Everyday I would rush home from school, ignoring social obligations to simply walk. Familiarizing myself with the music and the lyrics I heard everyday I spent countless hours and many miles pondering who I was, and becoming who I am today.
I have two particular memories of these days, involving MCR. It was the middle of summer, and after countless sightings of my brother in full 'goth' attire I made my first leap into the 'alternative' with the purchase of a straight jacket, online. When it had arrived in the mail I was ecstatic, but as per the usual country blessing; Had to walk to the post office over 5km away to get it.
In the driving heat I plugged my headphones into my cranium and eagerly made the journey.
Halfway up the road, with the summer breeze at my back - I heard it. For the first time ever, I was in the head-space to truly 'hear' the music I was listening to. The lyrics were overwhelming and the passion and the fury behind that, intoxicating. Pulling my iPod from my kaki cargo shorts - what specific song was I listening to? What was the name of this beast, I wondered? The words 'Thank You For The Venom' jutted across the stale blue glow of my iPod.
If you're familiar with the album Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, from which this song came - you'll know that two songs coming before and after are Hang 'Em High and The Jetset Life Is Gunna Kill You. Fittingly-so, after that brief summer adventure - those three tracks became my absolute favourites, and to this day I still remember the company of only a forrest, some fields, and My Chemical Romance, every single time I hear those tracks.
The second story comes from the end of that same dirt road - but from exactly one summer after that.
Adorning my favourite My Chemical Romance shirt, which featured a heart-splattered gun design on the front, I set out for another long walk - this time was to visit my high school sweetheart, a girl by the name of Emily. If I can stray from the story only for a moment, I find it impertinent that I mention the first time I was ever introduced to Emily - but more on that in a moment.
Finding myself at the end of this road I came across an older woman briskly walking through the summer heat in a display of power-walk prowess. Exchanging hello's, I had not noticed her scanning both the front and the nearly forgotten back, of my shirt. Passing her I heard her say 'PEW PEW' and turning again to catch a final glimpse I see her outstretched hand, in the standard gun formation. Laughing aloud, I said with a smile on my face, 'What?'
'It said fire at will.' And then she was gone. This was the first time anyone outside of my social sect had really reacted to a design on one of my My Chemical Romance shirts - and this encounter will always be in my mind as an example of this particular bands [cause and effect].
I wish to now recount how I came to know Emily. If there's one thing I will always remember from high school, it will be the formation of two secular groups of friends. Emily had come from a different elementary school, and had a group of friends parallel to my own. Though the cliques would form, and lead me into the group of friends and silent enemies I would confide in for the rest of my life - I remember one particular interaction between the two sects.
One afternoon after school, I found myself at the mall with a select group of my elementary school friends, and I was on a mission. My Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge CD had seen better days and was scratched beyond oblivion; I felt I needed another copy stat!
Coming from a CD store with my brand-new copy of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge in hand, the two separate groups, brought together by a linked friendship, met - and I found myself conversing with Emily. Asking what treasures I had acquired, I pulled the My Chemical Romance CD from the flimsy store bag and promptly displayed it to her with pride.
As I exchanged her own words, asking to see her own findings - Her reaction to this question would grow to form our relationship. Pulling a CD from her bag, there it was. A brand-new, unopened copy of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance, purchased from another retail outlet only steps away from where I had acquired mine.
In the end our lives had different paths, but perhaps I believe both Emily and I will always share that one thread. A bond over something greater than the two of us, My Chemical Romance. A bond that would be repeated many times over, with the countless My Chemical Romance fans I would come to know and love.
…So for now.
Thanks for tuning into my legacy and remembrance of My Chemical Romance.
Stay tuned for PART 2.
The key rule in any publication is to 'use space wisely.' Never crowd a page, but never leave the page too empty and unappealing. This is a concept that rings true with comic books as well. Though a comic has an extra feature, one you won't find with any other publication: a backboard. If a publishing company or comic shop was 'giving' enough to provide this handy tool, you're in luck! You're now the proud owner of the number one infraction of the number one rule in any publication: use space wisely.
The experience of reading a physical book is unparalleled by that of the digital format, but it's becoming a close race! So I believe it's more important now, than it ever has been to revitalize this traditionally incredible experience of physical print; And it's the refinement of such small details that will breath new life into this industry.
So where does Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee stand in all of this? How can this particular series correct some age-old wrong doings? Drawing inspiration from Apple, a company that perfects every little detail down to the box, OELIC and One-Eyed Cat Comics has done away with the standard, plain, eggshell backboard, and has 'reinvented' the concept.
With every issue of Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee you'll find a unique backboard tailored to that specific issue. The Wild Beasts of the Earth for instance features custom stamping on the back, and a beautifully detailed design on the front! A full three-sixty from the old concept. A comic is an expression and an extension of art after-all, and all parts of that experience should reflect such.
It's time to embrace a new-age of modern comics.
As Always, Tyler Hojberg.
How exactly would one define a comic book? It should be an easy question to answer, as the formula has remained almost completely unchanged for decades. It's a standard, typically magazine-sized, glossy paperback book. Inside covers are usually reserved for advertisement space, letter columns, or sometimes [thankfully] art. The entire package - complete with a stale eggshell backboard. So then if we are to adjust the equation, and apply new concepts to an old formula, how then - would one describe the experience of a modern comic book?
Join me over the next week, as I dissect the age-old comic book format, and begin to introduce new concepts in printing, packaging, and production of a new breed of modern comics!
Stay tuned for PT 1. 'GET A BACK[BOARD]!?'
As Always, Tyler Hojberg.
When the idea that sparked Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee first came about, it was certainly presented in a vast array of creative applications. With the amount comprehension and dedication yet to come about, the last thing crossing my mind was how to get this comic book into the hands of hundreds, possibly thousands. So when it came time to close the book on the creative aspect of OELIC and open the page to publishing as many copies as possible, it became clear that I would need to come full circle in creating every aspect of OELIC and carry the 'burden' of publishing the works myself.
While the ultimate goal still remains, to run OELIC under the title of a professional publishing company, the feasibility of publicizing this series calls for something of a smaller scale.
I'd like now to announce 'One-Eyed Cat Comics' the tentative, semi-permanent publication group that will be producing the first batch of hot-off-the-press series previews of OELIC. Publishing these works in such a manner has been thoughtfully planned and coordinated to provide the seamless, high-quality fit and finish that I believe this series deserves.
I once again thank everyone for your continued support and cannot wait to fully divulge this publication method in the coming weeks! Thank you.
As Always, Tyler Hojberg.
Just a quick thanks to everyone who has been working so hard to support OELIC. Many new things are coming your way very soon, and I just had to make a quick video sharing my thoughts! Enjoy!
As Always, Tyler Hojberg.
Hello again, and time for a brief update! First to bat, the limited edition prints are in[and some are up] and let me tell you, they're looking mighty fine! I'm so proud to have been able to put this set together as a 'big thank you' to everyone who has shown such amazing support over the past few months. We're only a few weeks away from the release of 'Yesterday's Weapon' the first in the batch, and I cannot wait to get these out into the world, and into the hands of those who enjoy my work. I thank you again, and hope you have a pleasant week ahead. From my cup to yours, and until we talk again.
As Always, Tyler Hojberg
[Photography: Tyler Hojberg, 2012]
I'd like to take today to thank the one person who has always been a beacon of hope in the OELIC universe. This one person in particular has gone out of their way countless times, not only to drive me halfway around the region in search for comic boards, but to provide me with a helpful hand along the way, and who has made this entire journey possible. That one person, is my Mom! She has not only been a guiding light, but my toughest critique over these past few months, and I wouldn't have had it any way. Her support, her courage and her tenacity to see me do my best is inspiring to say the least. I know deep down that none of this would have ever been possible without her, and it cannot be put into words how much I appreciate this brave, tough, intelligent woman. So this is for you Mom! Thank you for everything you have done, not only for this comic, but for me. So I'd like to announce today that Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee will be dedicated to none other, than her. My mom. My best friend, but also possibly my biggest fan! Thank you for everything you have done for me. I hope to make you proud over the next couple of months, more so than I ever have before. This is for you Mom, I love you, and Happy Mothers Day!
From the sweat stained shows, to the frigidly long hours in line there has been one unique group of individuals that stands out as a major inspiration in the creative process of Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee. A group that's proud, fearless and 'doesn't take anyones shit.' A group known only as the MCRmy! For those of you that don't know, the rock band My Chemical Romance has been a shining light in the darkest of days for the past nine (plus) years of my life. They have been a security blanket, a creative outlet, and a beacon of hope ever since I first hit play, so many years ago. The MCRmy however, is a melting pot of people from all walks of life, all brought together to celebrate the amazing experience that is My Chemical Romance. This brave collection of fans has been the driving force in supporting and encouraging my creative efforts. No, they aren't an 'emo club' nor are they a 'suicide cult.' They are strong, they are beautiful, and from the bottom of my black little heart, I thank them. For the late nights, the early mornings, and the sea of smiles, stretched across an ocean of fans. 'From the razor to the rosary' - this is for you guys! And as the saying goes, 'stay beautiful, keep it ugly!'
As Always, Tyler Hojberg.
There's a small, but important piece of Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee that I'd like to briefly draw your attention too. While you may have already picked up the clues as to what this may be, I'd like to introduce the cup system. Unique to this series(and bras I suppose), I have decided to stray from traditional chapter scheme. Each part will be divided into pots of coffee. Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee being one pot but released as, and broken down into ten cups. One cup per comic, and one pot per story. Easy enough? So measure out a pot of coffee, and stay tuned for your first sip into the series.
As Always, Tyler Hojberg.
[Photo: Tyler Hojberg, 2011]
When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is - everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.
I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
These are some inspiring words taken from PBS' 'One Last Thing' Documentary on Steve Jobs in 1994. Which today, I hold near and dear to the way in which I live my life. As I believe the creation of this graphic novel series [Our Everyday Lives Include Coffee] is a shining example of that.
I was told 'go to college,' I was told 'get a [nowhere] job,' but I was never told to 'start a comic' or to 'live your life.' Being happy will never reflect a number in a bank account.
So I urge you, start a band, paint a picture, create an experience for those around you. I urge that if you already sing, sing louder. If you already run, run faster. Never forget that it's okay to a be a little crazy sometimes, and never loose that hunger for what makes you happy. Sometimes driving ten under the speed limit is far more badass than speeding.