Quickly, while I still have time. I think he went out to get dog food, and he forgot to secure my chains today. He hid the phones; all I have is this message.
I’m getting ahead of myself: I’m James Rhoades, apprentice and captive of Michael Davis. Three years ago, I met Michael and pursued an apprenticeship in his studio. I thought it would be pleasant, a nice way to learn my craft without paying for classes. I had always wanted to do graphic novels, and I even learned to read by reading old Batman comics. I was thinking, “Here’s a chance to learn from an industry insider!” I was enthralled by his tales of success with past apprentices and the kind of education he could offer to those who were worthy. He told me that being an apprentice would be hard work, but it would eventually help me far more than learning on my own. I believed that it could not be harder than the classes I was taking at the time. After all, apprenticeships are just unpaid jobs, right?
How wrong I was.
My first day, I eagerly brought in my portfolio to have Michael review. I’m not going to lie, I was a pretty unrealistic teen at the time. Even then, I understood that the arts were a difficult industry to break into, but despite that, I was still dreaming that Michael would recognize my innate talent and offer me a job on the spot. Looking back, it was a wonder that I ever thought I was ready. While Michael recognized I had some talent, I was very much an amateur. My dreams delayed, I eagerly awaited my first art lesson. The assignment? Clean and organize the cabinets and drawers in the studio. My first lesson was that an illustrator must always keep his or her space organized. In fact, for nearly six months I never touched a pencil or pulled out a piece of paper. It was six months of organizing, filing, cleaning, and reorganizing the studio. I didn’t grumble, but I was certainly puzzled. Weren’t artists supposed to, y’know, create ART? I kept my question to myself and persevered on faith.
Eventually, patience won out, and Michael finally sat me down at a desk to draw. Since then, I’ve chained myself to his light table to research, draw, and ink everything the Master commands. The regimen took some getting used to at first (I wasn’t used to forcing myself to draw for hours at a time), but as a result the quality of my art took a quantum leap. More importantly, the schedule Michael had me on taught me how to work. Michael has told me time and time again, my art will always improve; what’s important is learning how to build a career.
After a few years of working with Michael, I’ve learned one very important fact: the man is psychic. Not “Miss Cleo on late night TV” psychic, oh no. He is spooky psychic. One day I walk in looking a little disheveled, perhaps even tired. As far as I can tell though, I certainly didn’t look sad or angry. The first thing he says to me is, “Having girlfriend trouble?” I hadn’t admitted to myself that I was having girlfriend trouble yet, and here was Michael pointing it out to me. He predicted that we’d be broken up within two months. What happened two months later, you ask? We had broken up, over a concern that he perceived in me before I had even thought about it.
Not convinced? One night after work he told me, emphatically, to drive home carefully. That night, I was looking a little worn down from school, but I was no more tired that I was on any other evening. I assured him I would, and left without any concerns.
LITERALLY fifteen minutes later, I had a minor accident because I wasn’t totally aware of my surroundings. Since then I’ve learned to heed Michael’s words; also, to never attempt to hide anything from him. Some days I feel like my life is wrapped in cellophane because of how clearly Michael can tell when I’m keeping a secret. When you’re in a work environment where dishonesty is not only unappreciated, but practically impossible, it tends to make you more diligent.
Anyway, I digress. As I type this with my ink-caked fingers, basking in sunlight (Is that a bird? Oh man, I haven’t seen a bird in months…), I know that all this work and diligence will pay off soon.
I can hear his car in the driveway, I better get back to the dungeon. This state-of-the-art shock collar prevents me from leaving the premises, but I rigged the basement door so I can open it from the inside now.
Until my chains rust from neglect,