In college, John was the... I don't know, administrator of a really spectacular group of my classmates, who at lunch would gather all at this sort of epically* long table, and it became so ingrained in their group identity that, I don't know if anyone else did, but at least John, his crew, and I all took to calling them The Long Table.
I can only speak about the Long Table from outside of it. I spent a few breakfasts there, but the nature of Bennington tended to keep the same folks traveling the same circles, and I'd already settled, and honestly, back then, might have been a tad too surly for a such friendly crew. They were isolated in many ways, but not isolationists, they welcomed others like they welcomed the discourse of new ideas, a place where people could share the things they were thinking, what they liked, celebrate that which they could, communally or not, love, and love quite publicly. And though John sort of could clearly be seen at the head of the table, I don't know if "leader" or anything like that would ever be appropriate. Maybe moderator at times. Maybe even surrogate father figure.
Actually, not even anything that concrete. But that's the language I always wanted to use when it came to talking about the Long Table - that they were like a family. A group that had come together despite whatever might have kept them apart, and filled some innate gap for each other, one that I often wonder if we all have.
But no need to get philosophical about it.
"Events" tended to spring up around the Long Table too - the way I met them was at Anime night, a weekly occasion where we'd all gather together to watch dubbed Japanese cartoons [seemingly bought on the South Korean black market], shout references at the screen, and generally make as much noise about blood spray and fan service and bishies as some of the wilder parties on campus.
And even though college is over, they keep the party going - at a regular event dubbed, loosely or not [never been clear], JohnCon.
John was the first online order for the book we got. Practically helped me test the PayPal button, so great was his enthusiasm to support the project.
And a little while later, he sent me this picture - what looks like a dramatic reading of Calamity Cash at JohnCon.
Left to Right: Max Cantor, C. Dillion Ross, John Wiswell, Jemma Mayer, and Shelly Fleming.
All of these pictures mean so much to me. But thanks for letting me be a part of the family, guys.
You can follow John on Twitter @wiswell, and make sure to check out his Bathroom Monologues, updated daily.
Order your copy of "Calamity Cash & the Town with No Name" via the button on the sidebar, or here:
"Calamity Cash & The Town with No Name" (25 pages, $3.50, plus shipping): The mother/daughter vigilante team of Tana and Cal Cash are on the run from an Afro-rocking, Kung-Fu assassin, and have been forced to make their last stand in a nameless desert town hiding an unbelievable secret - every last citizen is in the Witness Protection program! Out of gas, low on ammo, and with their backs against the wall, Calamity and Mama Cash become the town's unlikely protectors, but with friends so quickly becoming enemies, and old enemies becoming friends, is the whole place doomed to burn? And will our heroines be the ones to light the first match? A modern-day action/adventure western with words by Randall Nichols, and art by Justin Cornell.