I wrote an article recently about cartoonists reading and performing, and made a reference in passing that while most people have stage fright, I have just the opposite feeling. Individual conversation gives me anxiety but I have no fear of talking in front of a mass audience. I mentioned in one sentence that I have no fear of being seen naked. I am by no means an exhibitionist. It's not as if I'm a crazy, unpredictable loose cannon that will do anything for a laugh. There are plenty of things I'd be embarrassed to do. It's only that I don't care what complete strangers think. It's not as if I'd go around exposing myself, but if somebody were to walk in on me in the bathroom or catch me dressing, if I cover myself up it would be out of respect, not embarrassment. It's not as if I have body parts nobody would expect me to have (I don't think). This all comes back to a throwaway line I made in an essay. After I wrote that, somebody said I should be nude at my next convention appearance. Sorry, I will have to kindly decline and here's why:
1) I want to be known for my work. If I were to do it, people would know me as “the guy who appeared naked in public” when I'd rather be “the guy who drew a funny comic”. I've written things on internet message boards, had letters printed, and unintentionally harmed others to my regret, and it's taken me years to overcome people meeting me and saying, “Oh you're the one who...”. I worked on the most famous TV cartoon ever and all some people know about me is those other things.
2) What if I get a hard-on? I know I said I have no shame and it's not as if there's something about me nobody knows exists. Everybody's private parts become engorged, so it would only make sense mine do too. I know that if I were to appear naked, even people with no sexual attraction to me (i.e. 99.9999999% of the world) would try to provoke me, and I don't even know myself what might set me off. Could be something I'd be ashamed of. Could be something innocuous like a soda can. If it were an animal, people would talk.
3) I don't need to do stunts for publicity. I've seen plenty of people do distracting things at conventions to make up for mediocre work. From giving away candy to shouting at passersby. (Sorry if you're one of them. Don't do that.) That's just not my thing. Back to point number 1 again.
4) It's too fucking cold without clothes. There's a reason besides modesty and appearance that people wear clothing.
6) You're a pervert. There's something wrong with you if you just want to see me naked out of curiosity. I might make an exception if you ask me very nicely, though, and if it were an incentive to buy something from me.
7) I've written and posted things while naked before. Doesn't that count?
From Sketch to Finish: Paul Giambarba - Above: detail from a framed illustration by Paul, hanging in their home. I was fortunate to have lunch with Paul Giambarba and his lovely wife a couple ...
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