Tag Archives: failure

The Origins of Super Bon Bon

american salvage origins super bon bon_edited-1.png

I continue to not understand why a plain black dress costs as much as an F-350 stake-bed truck.

Bonnie Jo had the idea for a comic about the origins of American Salvage, and she sent me about 6 sentences, one per panel, and then we sort of bounced the script back and forth until it worked for both of us, so this is actually the first true collaboration we’ve done in 2 books. The other 31 (thirty-one!) comics I’ve written about her work didn’t really involve any direct communication or feedback during the process. So this was fun. I love memoir.

The dog in panel 5 was named Rebar, and he only had 3 legs. The picture of me in panel 6 is totally recycled from the last book. The donkey in panel 4 is the only donkey I drew for American Salvage, while Mothers, Tell Your Daughters is full of them. American Salvage, on the other hand, features many more drawings of blood and weapons.

Advertisements

Progress

progress_edited-1

Does anyone still get psychoanalyzed? And where does one buy a psychoanalysis couch? Do they sell them at Ikea? And, if so, do psychoanalysts fight about them in the middle of Ikea?

Sometimes I do feel like I’m cursed. I’ve lost track of the number of times I had reason to believe my ship had come in, only to find myself running off the end of the dock and falling into the frigid sea. At this point, I have zero reasonable expectation of success in my lifetime, and yet, even when I know that failure is imminent, I can’t seem to shake this stupid optimism that tells me, no, this time it will work out. This time you’ll get where you want to be.

I have a lot of respect for people who manage to work as therapist 40 hours week (maybe not for Freudian analysts, although you have to hand it to people who manage to hold onto a perspective that’s long been discredited) because it’s really emotionally draining work, listening to people whine day in and day out, most often about the same thing, week after week, with no intention of actually changing their circumstances. For a while, I thought I would be happy doing that job, but 2 internships and a practicum in mental health convinced me otherwise. Now I just give advice for free. People seem to think I’m good at it. Even strangers on the internet thank me for my insight, and if you’ve been on the internet, you know what a big deal that is.

Another thing I was thinking about was transference/countertransference. To do therapy, a therapist has to get the patient to like them in a certain capacity. I’m frankly astonished at the number of people who go to therapy for months or years and are afraid to tell their therapists the truth. I know it’s a goodly percentage of people, because people tell me things, and then, pretty often, add, “I’ve never even told my therapist that.” And I say, “Why not?” Because therapy is freaking expensive and it seems silly to pay someone $150 an hour to not tell them the truth (and then tell it to me for free). But people are filled with shame.

Anyway, you have to get your patient to like you, in a sort of parental way, where they trust you and feel safe with you, and you have to like them back, but not too much, because you can’t be emotionally involved with your clients, even if your entire relationship is about your emotions. You’re supposed to develop feelings for one another than you can then use to open up discussions about those feelings and how similar feelings affect their lives outside the office. But pretty often people aren’t that comfortable with their therapists, and I think it’s safe to say that some therapists don’t like their clients, and sometimes it shows. And people get discouraged and assume therapy doesn’t work, when it’s really the therapeutic relationship that’s not working, and they should just cut their losses and find a more appropriate therapist.

I can’t afford a therapist. But if I could, I would definitely be talking about the 101 examples I could give of moments in my life when I had every reason to believe things were going to unfold in a way that would improve my life, and instead didn’t unfold at all. I swear, it’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s why I drew this comic, instead of not drawing a comic.

Reaching

Everyone needs a little hand once in a while.

Everyone needs a little hand once in a while.

There seems to be a consensus among a certain group of artists that the measure of your ability can be found in the ease with which you draw realistic looking human hands. Drawing the comic has smoothed this skill over for me. (Yeah, I know the characters in the comic only have 4 fingers. But still.) Hands never seemed that great of a challenge to me–it’s face that give me trouble–and now my brain knows how to visualize the reproduce a variety of hand positions. If I can look at my own hand, or someone else’s hand, or a photo of a hand, then it always comes out right.

This is my left hand, which I did in digital paint as a tiny image a few weeks back. It took only a few minutes. Then I blew it up and smoothed it out just now, which only took another few minutes. Of course, I could have messed with it for 4 hours and made it look even more realistic. I probably could have messed with it for 18 hours and made it look like a some kind of uncanny volar valley, something that looked almost, but not quite, like a photograph. Wherein lies my problem: given enough time, I can draw anything. But then time becomes an issue. In 4 hours I could draw one perfect hand. Or one imperfect comic.

Lately life has been overwhelming and my brain doesn’t seem interested in drawing, or anything at all. It’ll probably pass. But producing new stuff seems just out of reach right now. I do have an article about censorship coming out today on Panels, but the link won’t be up for a few more hours, so I’ll post it later. There’s half a comics script on my desk, and with a little effort it could be a real comic by tomorrow.