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Science Fiction Association of Bergen County

From the Archives: Excerpts from past issues of

The Wizard's Wand!Newsletter of the SFABC (Wiz Edition)

Volume 1, Number 3, 1987

My Brilliant Career in Art

By Nancy Cucci

[Editor's note: This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect the innocent and replaced with names of real people who are not so innocent]

They say that dreams are very powerful. How many of the saints and prophets had visions appear to them in dreams that changed the course of their lives and that of mankind? How many of the great scientists developed theories while asleep? How many novels were developed from the sleep of their writers? How many fundamentalist preachers pave dreamed how much money they need from their flocks? I'll tell you: a lot!

So it should come as no surprise to you that I was moved to action after having a very unusual dream.

It was a dream with no beginning. I was seated in an artist's workroom surrounded by art paraphernalia. In front of me was a blank page; my hand was wrapped tightly around a pencil. The moment I saw it I screamed and dropped it. I can't draw. Drawing is only for sissies who can't get a computer to work.

Suddenly, the door opened and it was my boss! The legendary Tom Kidd! As I looked up blankly, it occurred to me what I was doing there. I had been hired as an artist's assistant to do preliminary sketches for bookcovers.

"Have you finished the cover for 'Toastmasters of Gor" yet?" he growled.

"No." I bleated meekly, the vision of brawny barbarians wearing loincloths and bowties shooting through my brain.

"What about the interior art for the Asimov book, 'Robots and Women's Foundations'?"

"Not yet." I said imagining R2D2 in a teddy.

He looked angry, his dark brown eyes snapped together like rubber bands. Well, have you at least started the sketch for Phil DeParto's 'SqiFi Cookbook'?"

Thoroughly repulsed by the thought and frightened to the core, I managed a tremulous smile. "Yes, boss. I'm working on it now."

"It better be done by the time I come back!" he threatened, shaking his fist.

The door slammed and I was alone, the stench of fear so heavy the EPA would have quarantined the building and fined the owner unless he was a Republican. "Another fine mess I've gotten myself into." I whined cynically. "Why had I done such a thing?! I can't draw!"

A six digit figure immediately came into my mind. Of course, artist's assistants make a HUGE amount of money! That's why I did it!

Of course, the simple fact remained that I couldn't draw. I couldn't quit because Mr. Kidd's assistants never quit, they just seemed to "disappear". (He lives in Connecticut, you know.) There was only one thing left to do… learn how to draw, and FAST!

I woke in a cold sweat. Although I was awake, the dream felt SO REAL I could still smell paint! I jumped out of bed and grabbed the nearest phone book and let my fingers do the walking.

Looking under Art there was NOTHING! In a panic, I called the Huntsville Museum. They occasionally had things they called art there. Yes, they had a drawing course but it wouldn't start for two months! "Good Lord." I cried cryptically, "Tom will be back by then!" Try the college, they suggested.

I called the college. Yes they had drawing and sketching, but it was an advanced course for nudes. I wasn't sure if they only drew nudes or if that was the dress code. "Don't you have anything for beginners?" I wheezed, goosebumps already forming all over my elegantly clothed body. Try the Community Adult School they suggested.

Finally reaching the Community Adult School, I started my quest.

"Yes, we have a drawing course for children 8 years and older."

"That will be fine." I replied relieved.

"How old is the student?"


"Excuse me?"

"33, that's older than 8, isn't it?" I replied smugly knowing I had her. I went to college, you know.

"It's a lot older than 8. Are you sure you want to take this class? The students will all be a lot younger than you?"

I was insulted. "I've been told that I look a lot younger than I am and I'm very, very short. Besides, 33 isn't THAT much older."

"Fine." The secretary said formally, realizing she couldn't argue with an artiste who sounded like a Yankee. "What's your mother's maiden name?"

I got into class the next day and things were very much as I had guessed. Most of the kids looked older than I did. I thought I fit in quite well, until the middle of the class, when the oldest kid sat down next to me deliberately. "How old are you?" she asked point blank in a Smurf-voice.

I sat for a minute thinking. "I'm 15." I replied.

"You don't look 15." she shot back.

"Do I look older?" I asked archly, waiting to be discovered. I still weighed a lot more than she did.

"No, you look a lot younger."

A year has passed since that fateful day, and I've graduated to Art for 9 year olds. They're all a little older, I've stayed the same. I'm still working on teddybears, but I must say they are the best teddybears in the whole class! I haven't quite made a lot of money as an artist's assistant yet, but hell, I have 9 more years of lessons before I can vote! By the way, like to come up and look at my sketchings?


[Editor's Note: This correspondence was published in a newsletter of the S F A B C, The Wizard's Wand Copyright © 1987 Vincent Krudyla August 1987 issue, Volume 1, Number 4].

Dear Editor:

I would like to clear up some misapprehensions that might arise as a result of Nancy Cucci's article, "My Brilliant Career in Art."

To begin with: most artists' assistants do not make "a HUGE amount of money." Most of them make almost nothing. The only artists' assistants that do rake in the big bucks are David Mattingly's. I've offered to be his assistant several times, but he's always turned me down. That's why I'm so happy to be a Worldcon nominee. Maybe if I win a Hugo, he'll reconsider.

I also take exception to her statement "Mr. Kidd's assistants never quit, they just seemed to 'disappear.'" It's actually quite easy to locate most of my former helpers. The only ones who disappeared are the pair I loaned to Barclay Shaw, so you should check with him and Kate.

Finally, I resent her description of me. My eyebrows do not "snap together like rubber bands." They rather flow together majestically, like waves to a beach.

The rest of the article wasn't bad. I'd make a couple of other observations, but i see Paul and Elizabeth Chadwick's car pulling into the driveway, so I have to go.


Tom & Andrea

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