Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Born Cool

Today is Ben McCool's birthday.

Probably I've forgotten more of what I've done in this man's company than I remember, which is an endorsement.

If you follow him online, or met him at a convention, you'll see that he advertises a propensity for consuming alcoholic beverages that is only rivaled in history by the likes of Hunter Thompson or W.C. Fields. This is truth in advertising. If life were a comic book, and bars were planets, Ben McCool really would be Galactus, except probably he wouldn't wear the dumb skirt.

If you read his Twitter feed, you know that he is a monster for sport. Ben taught me everything I know about the rules of American Football, and drew out my appreciation of both that venerable sport, as well as its European counterpart. He's patient, smart, and encouraging when it comes to these things. He's also aware how patently strange it is to be equally versed in the ways of sports and the ways of nerd culture, and eager to induct new people to both tribes. I say we get him a football shaped toaster oven for his 40th.

If you read his comic books -- and if you don't you're missing out on a terrific wellspring of incredibly good storytelling -- you see that he has a singularly twisted mind. Ben writes compelling stories about characters with soiled souls who are striving for a grace they know they're unlikely to achieve, but who still possess the drive to try.

Which leads me to the things you probably don't know about Ben McCool. Beneath the jovial beer monster, within the fierce Villa fan, coded in the stylish language of his stories, there's a youthful, exceedingly genuine, well meaning man who tries each day to make himself better. Like me, like you, some days he succeeds and some days he doesn't. But that well-meaning sweetness, that desire to lift up his brother, it is the fire in his furnace, and it's a rare, beautiful thing.

Happy birthday, you magnificent bastard.

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