Monthly Archives: February 2017

Un-American

UNAMERICAN_edited-1.png

I guess it depends on what values you believe the symbol actually stands for, and whether or not you can recognize when that symbol hangs from an incongruent foundation.

Not much more to say about this. America has been guilty of atrocities, but I like to think injustice is not the foundation of the system. Rather it’s a human flaw that can be addressed. We don’t have to embrace it. We don’t even have to accept it as inevitable. We can recognize it, bring it to light, and address it. Then the Rabbit told me today that genocide and slavery are the structural supports of the nation, and that we will have to tear the house down and rebuild.

History is ridiculous. And living through it is nerve-wracking. This comic comes from a place of fear, but I guess most of significant human events comes from that place.

I’m not sure how my brain connected to this James Thurber story, which I probably haven’t read in 20 years. Everyone should read James Thurber. Actually, everyone probably has and just doesn’t know it. His most famous story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” figured prominently in my freshman English class in high school. He’s a wicked, funny man. I wish I could write with his clarity and wit.

As for the last panel, I don’t know all that much about HUAC and Joe McCarthy, and I imagine there probably were plenty of Nazi sympathizers running around in the ’50s, but of course they weren’t open about it. They didn’t publicly host Nazi gatherings. They didn’t freely state their intentions to dismantle the federal government. Anyway, McCarthy claimed that the State House was “infested with Communists.” Later, as I understand it, he died penniless and friendless. In between he made a lot of people’s lives miserable.

He was a terrible human being, but in Bizarro America he gets to point his finger.

 

 

 

 

The Scent of Lemon Blossoms

img_5693

Maybe this year is the year that life will hand me sufficient lemons for a sizable recipe of lemonade.

If there was a technology that allowed photographs to capture smells, lemon blossoms would probably be up there with cat pictures in terms of popularity. In fact, if cat pictures smelled like cats, image of lemon blossoms might be more popular than cat macros. There are few scents in the world that compare to lemon flowers in the spring (it’s spring where I live). I had a Spanish teacher who once told us that there is a word in Spanish that means specifically the aroma of lemon flowers, but of course I don’t remember what it is.

I was happy to spend some time taking this pictures right up in the cloud of this delicious smell. Only later did I realize that the settings were all wrong for the light and the lens and everything else. But you can see it’s a lemon flower. There are probably 100s of them, although in my experience, 3/4 will fall off in a strong wind and 95 of the tiny lemons that result from the remaining flowers will die without explanation long before they reach maturity.

Most of this tree isn’t fruit-bearing: it’s whatever thorny, hardly rootstock they graft the lemony part to so it survives in this climate. I’m gradually pruning that back to give the good parts a chance to thrive but the thorny bit is the life support system and the only part high enough to get sun over the garden wall. The parts of my lemon tree that are fruit bearing are low-to-the-ground and a small percentage of the tree, but one day I know this tree will fulfill its destiny of being amazing.

Gratitude for air redolent with the esters of lemon flowers.

All about Me

all about me_edited-1.png

You might think it’s about you. But it’s not. It’s about me.

Radical self care. For me it tends to take the shape of being incredibly selfish. Sometimes it seems like something I don’t get to do very often, but on the other hand, drawing webcomics is incredibly selfish in many ways. It’s absolutely all about me. My art has always been all about me. The difference is, it used to be novels that a half dozen people read, and now it’s comics that 100s or 1000s of people read. But they’re still about me, my life, my experience, what I’m going through. Even if they seem political or altruistic, even when I do something like the Patricia Jabbeh Wesley comic the other day, or all those Bonnie Jo Campbell comics, I’m still in it. It’s still about me.

My brother told me yesterday that my comics were getting very dark. I say the world is getting dark. The comics just reflect my perception of it. But actually, I’ve been taking great care of myself since the election.

Not, of course, as good as my kitty, Lupin (pictured above). We could all take lessons on radical self care from cats.

Do You See How Ridiculous This Is?

LITTLE BEING_edited-1.png

And they all lived without the oppressive weight of the assumed binary ever after.

Wrote this little script last week but nothing visually stunning came to mind even after so many days, so the artwork doesn’t really hit any sort of meaningful level, for which I am sorry. We were at the Bear’s house and didn’t get home until after 11 and my energy level kind of started flagging before we even left the house.

I know some people feel very strongly about identifying on one end of the spectrum or the other, but I don’t, and I never have. But if you do, I support your right to express that in whatever way that works for you without letting it inform my sense of what you can and cannot do. Sorry there’s nothing more today. I should have done a comic about the 7 earth-like planets discovered by NASA. Maybe tomorrow. Although Google kind of already beat me to it.

Here’s an article I wrote on Book Riot about a new horror anthology called Sycorax’s Daughters.

Poetry Is in the Air

patricia-jabbah-wesley_edited-1

Always searching for words to explain.

This is my friend Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, the Liberian-American poet, in the first panel. We went to graduate school together. She came to America as a refugee, one of a million people displaced by a war that killed 200,000. There were only like 2 million people in Liberia before the troubles. She knows something about how bad the world can get.

Most of my poet friends seem to write Facebook statuses that are also poetry, and when I saw this update, it felt like it had the same rhythm of some of my 4-panel comics, so I asked her if I could adapt it and she kindly said yes. I love the line, “If you ain’t start writing poetry this year, you might never.”

If you’re unfamiliar, panel 3 is Harry Carey, a popular sportscaster whose catchphrase was “holy cow,” and panel 4 is an iconic picture of activists Gloria Steinham and Dorothy Pitman Hughes illustrating solidarity.

Facts

facts_edited-1.png

I only believe ideas that conform to my previously held beliefs, and those are sufficient facts for me.

Nuances of style, voice, and tone in writing can be difficult to understand even for students interested in writing, which is a very small subset among college students taking freshman composition. Almost everyone who likes writing tests out of this course, so you don’t expect much more than average ability from your students to start. But some people defy your expectations, like this kid. I swear, this is a true story. He told me he was writing like a stereo manual on purpose, because that was the only good way to write, and he wouldn’t alter his written voice, even though revisions accounted for a huge percentage of the semester grade.

That’s the nature of reality. One person can spend a five years studying the structure, detail, and and elements of language that place Lolita among the pantheon of the most wonderfully written novels ever written and still feel that they have much to learn on the subject of verbal expression, and this freshman can proclaim with equal or greater certainty the stereo manuals are objectively the best, most effective use of English. This guy gave up an easy A because considering my perspective would mean compromising his own powerful belief.

And that is how we get to a place where people can proclaim that anything that isn’t personally a problem for them, isn’t a problem for anyone, anywhere, period. When you’ve already decided the truth about the world, you can’t hear further information on any subject.

So I repeat. It’s pointless to argue after you realize that the person you’re arguing with is choosing not to evaluate information that contradicts their predetermine notions. All the facts in the world won’t persuade someone who’s already made up their mind.

Monday Gratitude: Meaningful Work

photo-on-2-19-17-at-11-19-pm

I got 2 phones.

I wanted pictures of a fluffy elephant toy and I didn’t want to pay for it, so I went to Toys R Us and photographed a fluffy elephant there. The Canon Rebel was in my bag but just as I found the store it occurred to me that it would be equally effective, for my purpose, and much less conspicuous to use a camera phone instead of a massive DSLR.

The black phone on the left is one of the crappiest phones you can buy. The keyboard sucks, the GPS sucks, the voice recognition sucks, and also the rear-facing camera is broken, so it only takes selfies. The white phone on the right is superior in every way, but it has a cracked screen and that bothers me more than all the  other things, I guess. But I carry it sometimes for various purposes. No one noticed me taking 30 photos of 1 plushie from 30 different angles, and now I can do some more work on my big project.

After a crash photography shoot and some bare bones work in the library, I went to Ms. Kitty’s house, and she told me about “2 Phones” for Kevin Gates. In this masterpiece of self-aware modern music, the upcoming entrepreneur must carry 2 phones, one with which to communicate with his lover, and the other to conduct his business. I told her that I used one for Pokemon and the other to play words with friends. And then later, while I watching the video, Miss Kitty came in and told me about the Pokemon Go remix. Which makes sense.

Anyway, whenever I think of all the things I haven’t got…it’s important to remember how much I have. I’ve got 2 phones. But what I’m most grateful for is the work I did with that phone. It really is a true privilege to get paid to create things.