Sunday Morning at the Diner - A Paul Tumey Comic

You know how it is. You live in a place, you pick up their ways. 

From 1988 to 1997, I lived in Massachusetts -- first in Leominster, and then in Boston. Gradually, I became a member of the counter-culture. By "counter-culture," I don't mean a socio-political movement, as much as I mean a gastro-intestinal movement. Namely, diner culture. 

Photo courtesy of the Diner Hotline Weblog

New England is, among other things, a treasure trove of classic vintage diners. Many of the pre-fabricated railroad car style diners were manufactured in Worcester, Massachusetts -- so it makes sense that a large concentration of diners settled across the state, like so many patty melts falling from the sky. I used to go around the state hunting old diners. It became an idle past-time, and then an obsession. I met some of the owners, and ate many a fine meal while sitting at a gleaming chrome counter. One favorite was the Miss Worcester lunch car, where -- if memory serves -- they cooked their home fries in sausage grease -- this may not sound great, but it was very tasty on a mid-winter day!

One of my favorite days was when I joined several other diner fanatics and took a day-long bus tour of diners, sponsored by the Society of Commercial Archaeology. What a day that was! Bacon burgers here, homemade apple pies there, turkey and gravy on spongy white bread -- mmmmm.

My love for diners found its way into my work at the time. I created a long comic book called "The Last Diner." I hosted an author event at my bookstore with Richard Gutman, a great diner and culture historian. I also wrote and drew a three-page comic story that appeared in a nifty diner fanzine called "Counter Culture."  Recently, the original art for this strip surfaced. I remember being interested in showing the wonderful, womb-like feeling of enclosure a well-made old fashioned diner booth gives you. The narrative comes from an event that happened more than once. I felt kinda bad, knocking diner food -- so I didn't draw any of the more beautiful art deco visual tropes of diners into this strip -- to sort of distance them from the lousy food at Jo's, my mythical diner. 

I've scanned the story for your eating pleasure! 
Here, then, from circa 1994, is "SUNDAY MORNING AT THE DINER."

All text and art is copyright 2014 PAUL C. TUMEY. You can feel free to link to this page but you may not appropriate and use this art for your own purposes. Sorry, but that's the way it is.

1 comment:

  1. I recall frequently visiting a silver railroad car diner in Burlington, Vermont in 1979 run by twin brothers. They put on quite a fun show as they hustled to meet customer demands while wearing their white paper diner-guy hats. The food was pretty good too. I saw one of the brothers once in a bar at night utterly comatose and depressed. Public figures need to be careful.

    We actually have a railroad car place out here in the wilds of Grays Harbor County, Washington, in Oakville, believe it or not. I have never been it: