Forçade had wanted me to sketch up some cover ideas for the Christmas issue, which ultimately were not used. As he studied the sketches I started to talk about them. He held up his hand to stop me and said, "You spent a lot of time drawing these; can you give me a few minutes of quiet to look at them?"
That was good advice and never again would I babble to an art director while he was looking at my work, which after all has to speak for itself.
Forçade asked me how much I was being paid. I told him I didn't know. He asked, "You did all this work and you didn't know how much you'd be paid?"
I said, "I assume it will be fair."
He said, "Suppose I told you you were getting $5,000 for these sketches? Maybe you should have put some more work in them. Suppose I told you you were getting $50? You would have put in way too much work already. Never do anything without knowing what you're getting paid."
More sage advice.
There was a hospital-sized tank of nitrous oxide next to the couch, from which two of the editors were filling balloons and taking hits. They started carrying on a quiet conversation.
"Could you guys stop talking?" said Forçade. " 'Cause I'm trying to talk to Paul here and I can't concentrate."
"Sure, Tom," said one, "sorry."
Forçade continued, with some intensity, "You know, when I'm trying to talk to a guy, and other people are talking, it's really disturbing. I mean I can't hear what Paul has to say, do you get that? Is that hard to understand?"
"That's cool, Tom, no problem," one said.
Even more intense: "Because I don't like talking when other people are talking, you know? I mean, when two people are talking at the same time, who am I supposed to listen to, right?"
"Yeah, Tom, fine."
A weird little scene. Forçade was extremely disturbed by ambient noise. According to an article, one day when he was working in the office he fired the entire editorial staff because they were too noisy.
I never had another meeting with him. Perhaps he was put off that I had turned down his offer to smoke some $200-an-ounce pot. (Note to hipsters: pot typically cost around $35 an ounce in those days.)
Dope Rider appeared in the December/January 1976 issue in a story titled "Beans For All," an actual slogan of the Mexican Revolution that I took to heart. (Click on images for a larger version.)
Dope Rider didn't make another appearance until the August 1976 High Times.
Around this time National Screw, a low-rent nudie magazine published by Al Goldstein, featured a take-off of High Times, to which I contributed a spoof of Dope Rider. It made no sense for me to spoof my own strip, but that in itself made it seem worth doing. Plus, you know, money.