Tag Archives: death

The Inventor, 1972

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I had the fog in panel 1 perfect, and then I accidentally deleted the layer, and just couldn’t make the fog look perfect again. But it’s supposed to be foggy in panel 1.

From the moment I took on this project, I wondered how I was going to draw the homemade scuba gear, which seemed like such a memorable symbol, but on rereading the story, I felt the homemade scuba gear was less important. The girl in the story believes Uncle Ricky was a real angel, but he was a kid who gave his friend a homemade tattoo and also made his own fireworks. He was no angel. Also, he tested his homemade scuba gear alone, at night. He wasn’t as smart as he thought.

There’s a lot going on in “The Inventor, 1972,” and I had to cut a lot out, particularly the man’s fraught relationship with his father, and the fact that he is referred to as “the hunter” despite the fact that his hand injury leaves him unable to shoot, and the scene that depicts him trying to hunt as a younger man shows him failing to take the shot. I thought there was some ambiguity about the car accident. The man keeps saying that he didn’t see the girl, but then he thinks about how happy he was when he hit her because he thought she was a deer, and then he recalls how she looked emerging from the fog. So, did he hit her on purpose, mistaking her grace for that of a deer? Or was it all too fast to be anything other than an accident? How culpable is he? He sort of hopes that he will go to jail—his situation is so bad that jail would be an improvement, to his mind—but his guilt is mixed up with so many events that it’s hard to say how guilty he is now.

In the story, the girl sees the man’s hunting license pinned to his jacked when he approaches, but when I Googled “Michigan hunting license 1972,” all the hunting licenses from that era clearly read “display in middle of back.” Having never hunted at all, let alone in Michigan 2 years before I was born, I didn’t know what to make of that, so I just left the license out, since the girl can’t read it anyway. Also, it’s supposed to be the back of his hand that’s burned, and I ended up drawing the front of his hand burned.

At its heart, I think this story is about 2 people who don’t know each other at all, even though both of their lives have been indelibly affected by the death of another character and they’re clearly connected and could help each other. I’d like to think that the girl’s parents find out that he was the person who hit her with his El Camino, but also the one who went running for help, and that they would, naturally, recognize him from their own childhood, and that somehow he gets reintegrated into the family’s life and becomes a subsequently less broken person as a result. I think it’s meant to be redemptive.

This comic took almost an entire week to write and draw, but in my defense, I was at Tucson Comicon for 3 of those days, 4 if you count picking up my media badge and skulking around the load-in on Thursday. Usually I write the script before I start drawing, but I knew that panel 1 should just be this moment of the girl lying on the ground with the man kneeling in front of her, so I just started drawing and figured out the text as I went along. Maybe it would have been more coherent if I had worked it all out first.

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Priorities

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His second-to-last word were, “I don’t want to be a statistic.”

This is something from my sketchbook, the only comic of a million ideas that I had while drawing “Close Encounters of the ∞ Kind” that I actually recorded. It never got worked up because I was busy and it was dark. But, man, we are living in some dark times. I had a whole screed that I intended to publish here about how dark those times are, for me personally and for the world at large, but suddenly I’m not feeling it. A few weeks ago, a Facebook friend asked, “People with invisible disabilities, what do you wish other people understood about living with your chronic illness?” and I wrote, “I am literally doing the best I can.”

I am literally doing the best I can.

In case anyone was wondering, I finished all the art for Close Encounters; it took me about 8 months all told, working an average of maybe 20 hours a week for most of it. Linda loved it. Although it was meant to be ambiguous and mind-bending, beta readers seemed to find it a bit too ambiguous and mind-bending, so I’m adding just a bit more text. But honestly, its intention is to be something that the reader has to work at and at this point in my life whether or not an individual gets my art has little impact on my artistic process.

What bums me out: the artwork is about 1000 times better than what usually ends up in my webcomics, and it still bears about as much resemblance to the pictures in my head as a 5-year-old’s crayon drawing does to a portrait of their family, and to get it that good required an entire month to draw a single page. Granted, I learned a lot in the process and if I had to do it again, it might take only 4 or 5 months, but that’s still too slow for the kind of comics I want to produce. You need at least a page a week. At 4 pages a week, these webcomics are as good as it gets right now. It’s a conundrum.

Hopefully, I can announce the next comic book on the horizon pretty soon.

The Things You Carry (a comic from my subconscious)

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It also teaches you a lot about balance.

This comic appeared to me, more or less fully formed, as an idea in a dream. No kidding. This scenario wasn’t the dream; it was an idea I had for the comic *in* the dream, which was a pretty normal dream about being back in college (at which time I wasn’t into cartooning). In the dream I wasn’t totally sure it was funny, but it seemed imperative to remember it and bring it back from the dream world. (I’m still not sure it was funny, but the few people I bounced it off of seemed to think it was worthy.) Originally, as I dreamed it, the punchline in panel 3 has the artist saying, “It’s OK, I guess,” but this feels better. Upon waking, I recalled that I had dreamed an idea for a comic, but I couldn’t remember what the comic was. A couple hours later, it came back to me while I was pinging Misses Kitty. So random.

It’s just about mortality, and the way the idea hangs more heavily on you the older you get. You watch your parents getting old, you have friends die of terrible diseases, your heroes start to die, and you can’t deny that you’re further from 15 than you are from 50, and that you too will, inevitably die. You can begin to carry around the weight of your own fragility wherever you go, if you’re not careful. It helps you make more careful choices about how to live, if you can focus on what you have left. But there comes a point where you start to understand the true meaning of being over the hill. You have an expiration date. You started some decades ago, and most surely, some decades hence, you will stop.

So you better draw a lot of comics while you still can.

His Song Went on Forever

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I’m not that deep. I’ll never be that deep. But I can see into the depths. 

I don’t usually do stuff like this, not being one for idols, but David Bowie was such an phenomenal creative spirit that it’s hard to imagine the hearing, seeing human being who wouldn’t be inspired by his work. He was a true artist in every sense of the word, a man who wrote what still stands, in my mind, as one of the greatest commentaries ever created on love, aliens, and rock and roll (let alone one of the greatest albums of all time) when he was 24 year old, and then, rather of resting on his laurels, invented himself again and again, for every album, for every movie role.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars played in the background as I drew this comic, and while I’ve listened to this album start to finish literally hundreds of times in my life, I kept hearing new ideas, new notes. It kept offering new inspiration.

I can’t even talk about “Lazarus” right now.

If you notice that I have chosen the silhouette of Jareth, the Goblin King to represent the dozens of faces that Bowie wore in his career, it is because I am 9 years old, and because when we fall in love, we always remember the moment, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love The Hunger or The Man Who Fell to Earth, brutal and adult as both those films were.  

This is sort of what I feel about any really great artist finishing their work here: it’s sad they had to go when they did, but it’s wonderful that they got to stay as long as they could. The world is a better place for the existence of people like David Bowie and Robin Williams, and I’m a better artist for having walked in their light.

Ereshkigal, Mesopotamian Goddess of the Underworld

Just finished and uploaded a new design to the shop, and I’m pretty satisfied. Ereshkigal is a section out of the Scroll of Wisdom, the second goddess, after Athena, in the Alphabet of Desire.

Ereshkigal, Mesopotamian Goddess of the Underworld

Ereshkigal, Mesopotamian Goddess of the Underworld

She’s a little bit creepy, but she’s an embodiment of death, so, what’s she supposed to do?

This drawing gave me a lot of trouble, both the original and the digital version. I sort of felt like she was watching me with her hypnotic eyes, as if to say, “Soon enough, you’ll come to me.”

I first met Ereshkigal in Alan Moore’s Promethea, where he retells the story of Ereshkigal having her younger sister, Ishtar/Inanna brought low. The goddess of the heavens is forced to give up all her clothes in order to descend into the land of the dead, in much the same way, I imagine, as a seeker of knowledge must shed certain thoughts and ideas that have adorned her in the past in order to unfold new mysteries.