Monthly Archives: December 2016

Heartbroken

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I’m gonna have to advise a complete teardown and rebuild.

What a spectacular note on which to end this spectacular year. I tried to resist the miasma of 2016 hating, but there’s no escape from the vortex of suck. My heart has been broken for a long time and acknowledging the facts doesn’t change them.

In case you’re wondering, I received a suspended fine for my yard, and a year’s probation, if you can believe it. The judge was actually more or less reasonable and understanding (I mean, he could have not issued the fine at all, but I guess not making me pay it was a big deal) but the inspector who cited me after I spend 3 days fixing up the property was clearly a terrible human being with no friends. I almost did get in a fight with her before the hearing when I realized that she didn’t care how many weeds had been removed, that she was going to harp on the few that remained. I told her that if my efforts at cleanup didn’t have any impact on her report, that I wasn’t going to be highly motivated to be compliant in the future. Then she threatened me with a $2500 fine. Then I said, “You can’t get blood from a stone. Are we done here?” And then we had the hearing.

In case you’re wondering what probation for tall weeds looks like, it looks like this [expletive redacted] snooping around my property for the next 12 months with a freaking ruler, waiting to measure any unauthorized plants that might pop up. Lady, if I had $2500 dollars I would build a goddamn wall so you and the snooty neighbors and also all the morons who throw their trash wherever they feel like it would keep their everything off my property.

Really, I’m trying very hard to be calm about this, but I need an extended stay in an empty room.

Yard Renegade

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Alas, the Scarlet W of Shame is embroidered upon my chest. 

Finally, a comic I can feel good about. This is a true story. Admittedly, I did have tall weeds growing in my yard. Tall weeds are nice; they attract birds and other native creatures. The cat loves tall weeds. They are much better than a yard full of invasive goatshead. But I got a warning. Oh no! And we spend many hours pulling tall weeds, mowing tall weeds, weed whacking tall weeds: me, The Man, the kids. And the city STILL issued a citation stamped in red: appear in court or a judgement will be leveled against you. My good neighbor then revealed to me that some other neighbors were congratulating themselves on “cleaning up the neighborhood.” By reporting me to the city. Someone did this to me.

I toyed with the idea of erecting a giant, ugly sign in my yard:

Dear “Neighbors,”

I use scare quotes because your behavior was anything but neighborly. Good neighbors, upon becoming distressed regarding the state of our yard, would have rung the bell and asked if everything was OK. And you would have learned that we are impoverished, and disabled, and have far more pressing concerns than tall weeds. But instead, you reported me to the city. Now I am facing a fine I cannot afford and I have to go to court. You have caused a great deal of stress and trouble, so please, don’t go around patting yourself on the back for your part in “cleaning up the neighborhood.” And please, do not ring the bell to apologize. Unless you are offering to pay our fine or take charge of our landscaping in the coming year, I’m not interested in talking to you.

You are bad neighbors, and you should feel bad.

Sincerely,

A Human Being Doing Literally the Best She Can

I didn’t do it. But I might, if I end up having to pay this fine.

The incident in panel 2 was really real. Not my finest moment. But if I had to spend another minute in that room I was going to go insane. Not only was the judge an ass, but also I was hallucinating from lack of sleep and couldn’t even follow the jury selection questions, and the trial was going to be 3 weeks long, and it was entirely about whether or not a hospital killed a guy by giving him bedsores. Three weeks of getting up early to hear testimony about bedsores officiated by a guy who I already wanted to report to someone for awful conduct. And then the judge started trying to tell me how I was supposed to feel. Anyway, life pro tip: if you’re crying too hard to answer questions, they don’t make you serve on a jury.

Panel 3 was real, too. It was during a break in the session, and I absolutely was NOT talking to that cop. I was talking to my fellow scofflaw red light runners about what utter nonsense photo enforcement was, and they all agreed with me. And then this cop comes up and starts telling me how important traffic cameras are and how dangerously I was driving, and we had JUST come out of the booth where I had to watch the camera footage and I could see I was not driving dangerously, as there were no other cars or people in the intersection, and if the yellow light had been .2 seconds longer, I wouldn’t have gotten the ticket.

And, you know, I sort of have problems with authority figures, and I got huffy with him, and gave him what I considered to be the facts of the matter. He responded as pretty much all strangers respond when they try to talk to me and I cut them down: he backed away slowly and let the matter drop.

I was really freaking out because I thought my trial was going to be at 7 a.m. or something, and even though I think there’s a good chance the whole thing will be dismissed, I cannot keep it together at 7 a.m. and I feared that I would not be able to talk to the judge in such a way that they would have any sympathy for my plight. But actually it’s at 2 p.m. so maybe there’s a chance for me. I’ll say this much: if I still have to pay a fine after all the work I did, I won’t have any incentive to both keeping the yard up next year.

Be Funny

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Panel 4: Interrobang!

The pressure to accomplish something every day simply because someone else expects you to is a tremendous motivator. For years, the Fox and I emailed each other every day for “accountability.” We would share our word count, or number of pages edited, or queries submitted, like that. Definitely, there came days when I would have just skipped writing, except that it shamed me because he would know that I failed. So I wrote a lot more to keep from disappointing my friend.

Practically every night I think my ideas are good when I come up with them, OK as I create them, and terrible when I upload. Usually trolls don’t excoriate me. Maybe once or twice a year, although 137 upvotes/messages might be an exaggeration. Still, it’s enough to keep me going. Yesterday I was thinking about quitting. Today 7 people told me they hoped I didn’t. So, you know….

If you are among those who get something out of this work and don’t want me to quit, please consider making a small monthly donation to my Patreon. For the price of a cup of coffee a month, you could make a difference in the life of an artist. And to my 2 current Patreon patrons, thank you! You are appreciated.

 

Not Funny

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Look, there is *nothing* wrong with a man having small hands. But speaking as an artist who spends a lot of time thinking about what hands look like, the guy has small hands.

I’m not entirely sure how long I’ll be able to keep drawing webcomics, in part because drawing webcomics is not a lucrative profession, but also because I started drawing webcomics with the intention of being funny, and increasingly, as the days go by, I don’t feel funny. I hear myself making jokes at parties and people laughing at them, and I still don’t feel like anything’s funny. I feel like I’m pretending to be funny. Being funny right now is like dressing in drag. The end result may be stunning, but it knows it’s playing an imitation game.

Watching my work become increasingly unfunny scares me, despite the positive feedback for telling the truth.

The effect of the Desmond Tutu comic–3 serious panels, followed by a punchline–seemed like a good compromise, so I tried it again. I leave it to the reader to decide. Can I put swastikas in panel 2 and banana cream pies in panel 4? Admittedly, this piece has a little less cohesion than The Fourfold Path.

Panel 2 was troublesome. I Googled “anti-semitic graffiti,” but I couldn’t bring myself to reproduce most of the things I found. I’m not saying “kike” is the line for me–I bet a lot of people wouldn’t even recognize it as a slur, and it certainly isn’t an n-bomb–but I didn’t want it in my comic, either. It’s hard enough going through life knowing that there are people who flat-out want me dead because of the shape of my nose.

Anything I could say about panel 3 has already been said by commentators more eloquent than I. As we transition into a world where the president of the United States thinks it’s perfectly fine to publicly, in front of a large audience and many cameras, mock a man’s physical disability while that man is attempting to do his job, who can really predict the depth of the rabbit hole? What does comedy even mean in this world? Reality is more bizarre and unpredictable than any joke I could think of. I’m the rare person who never enjoyed The Daily Show because it frankly depresses me that comedians were the only people telling the truth, and that they had that much to say.

If you would like to read the sad comic reproduced in panel one, you can find it here: The Weight of the World.

Dave McKean, if you are unfamiliar with his name, is the artist who created the covers for Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, among other things.

In real life, my hips are not that small. But I guess in real life, the president-elect is not that orange. The size of his hands, the color of his skin: these are the least of the problematic concepts that those who believe in equality, freedom, and the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America will struggle to explain to ourselves and the children in our lives in the coming months.

Winter Garden Mandala

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Mmm…Christmas Cabbage

You know that documentary where the guy eats nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days? I’m doing a similar experiment, except with gingerbread and it’s only day 4 and my liver is probably ready to be foie gras at this point. Actually, I hid the last bit of gingerbread in the freezer, but as fans of the popular early reading series Frog and Toad are well aware, that isn’t likely to keep me from eating gingerbread. We gave away 3/4 of the gingerbread, and there is still gingerbread.

There’s a reason I only do this once a year.

It is very artistic gingerbread. We use cookie cutters for the shapes, and then we frost them with buttercream icing in every color of the rainbow and then we add candy, sprinkle, nonpareils, colored sugar, marshmallow, what have you. Every cookie is unique. Also,  eating one cookie is kind of like eating a small cake. We went to 2 holiday parties over the weekend and I didn’t sample anyone else’s cookies. Because I was too busy eating my cookies.

Might have to go sugar-free for a couple months next year.

Elementary Class Consciousness, 2016

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The times are tough now, just getting tougher/This old world is rough, it’s just getting rougher

The first place I ever encountered the phrase “class consciousness” was in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Of course. “I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta.” Everyone in that book is conditioned to be happy with where they are and what they have. In the real world, you meet a lot of discontent people. Some of them seem to achieve everything with little effort but never feel like they’ve acquired enough. Some of them seem to throw themselves full throttle into their own survival and barely earn enough to subsist.

And then, because we aren’t conditioned to like where we are, but rather to believe that we deserve to go further, and can if we just put our backs into it, sometimes the masses notice that all their hard work only enriches those who have more and do less, and then they rise up against their oppressors in class warfare. That’s the theory, anyway.

In my imagination, all 4 panels should have been a contiguous street scene where the management lady interacted with the hourly laborer in front of a building where the disabled veteran sat and the limousine was parked, but my art-fu has not advanced that far. Perspective is like a foreign language to me.

Merry Christmas. It’s not my holiday, and I don’t understand it, but it seems like an especially depressing proposition this year.

Boilerplate

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If you get woke on your own time, we assume you won’t be coming back in to work ever.

I assure you, the system is rigged, and I came from the plus side, so it’s not like it’s sour grapes or anything. America is rigged, more or less, in my general favor, providing I work within certain parameters. Despite my obvious flaws and handicaps (complete lack of work ethic, little interest in advancement, antagonism toward authority, zero respect for anything, inability to comprehend or observe social norms, failure to ever do anything for 8 hours at a time except sleep) the world is biased toward me, because I have fair skin and multiple degrees (obtained without accruing student debt), speak the language of the culture of power as my first dialect, and hold an inherent belief regarding the value of my own skill set. Even the fact that I was assigned female at birth and only loosely conform to gender expectations doesn’t shut me out because my upper-middle class upbringing has always assured me that I’m totally within my right to say, “My time is extremely valuable, and if you want me to do something that’s not my idea, you’ll have to pay what it’s worth to me.” I know so many people who are more talented than I am, or at least better employees, by an order of magnitude, who have struggled all their lives and worked 10 times harder than I ever did, but weren’t born into my circumstances, and can’t get past the built-in obstacles designed to prevent them from advancing.

So, yeah. A lot of the people who enjoy the benefits of this imbalance actively work to maintain that imbalance even while offering lip service to progress.

Some folks have called the current crisis in the US the last gasp of white male supremacy, but I honestly don’t think the system is designed to break open like that. Things change–sometimes slowly, sometimes in big jumps, and sometimes going backwards for a little bit before they can move ahead again–but the world is built on what’s come before. We never wipe civilization out and start with a blank slate. It’s going to be a while before those cold, gray hands loosen their grip on the reins. You might not see them, but they’re there, and they’re not ready to let go, not until a critical mass of everyone gets woke and forcibly removes them from the driver’s seat.

Hopefully people will appreciate my webcomics in that reality.