While enjoying Phil’s contemplative color study, we contemplate “distance” in Mitch’s tender essay…
Writing by Mitch Russell
Art by Phil
I used to have this roommate who was always trying to get me to watch anime with him. “I only watch the good ones,” he’d tell me. “Ghost in the Shell, Full Metal Alchemist, Studio Ghibli shit…” We spent one Saturday night watching Spirited Away, drinking beer after beer after beer. It was pretty good. Especially the part with the pigs. But it wasn’t for me. Anime was his thing. It would be weird if I got into it too. A fully anime house is not the kind of house you want to live in. Plus, as long as it was his thing, I got to judge him for it. Anime may be art – it may even have the capacity to be great art – but it will always be for weird nerds.
My roommate was a man of eclectic tastes. He kept a sheathed katana on our coffee table. He had a Japanese theatrical poster for A Fistfull of Dollars on his bedroom wall. And he was always watching these weird, sad, baffling Asian cartoons. It made sense to me that in our little duo, he would be the funny, dorky friend who always struck out at bars, while I would be the more serious, intellectual type who read Henry Miller books and had passionate relationships with artistic women. But it wasn’t like that at all. No. It was almost the opposite. Everyone loved John. He was charming. He made good party banter. The fact that he could speak at length about My Neighbor Totoro was an interesting character quirk. I, on the other hand, was a sullen cave troll, too loud or too quiet. Either needing a drink or far too drunk. I occasionally shuffled from room to room with a paperback Faulkner under my arm which did little to salvage my social relations. But this is just how it was, whether it made any sense to me or not.
He and I lived together for three years. The last movie I watched with him was called Grave of the Fireflies. It was the most depressing goddamn thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve never seen anything like it. John and I fell out of touch. We live on opposite ends of the country now but I still see hints of him on the internet. His life, from the scraps I can see, seems incomprehensible. But then I doubt he would understand mine. I try to account for the paths our lives have taken. Anime probably has very little to do with it.
About the Author
Mitch Russell is a very famous author writing under a pseudonym. Don’t tell anyone. You can read his junk in Rejection Letters, JAKE, and Functionally Dead
About the Artist
Phil is an American illustrator with high cheekbones and a perfect nose. When he’s not drawing at his desk, he can be found searching the ashtrays outside of Waffle Houses across this great nation for half smoked cigarette butts. A philosopher, a wanderer, a bitch, a lover, a child, AND a mother, Phil is all of us. He has a bottomless pit of rage matched only by a relentless need to be loved, both fueled by fruit snacks and string cheese. He is disingenuous, easily bored, and possibly a narcissist. Please like him.