Tag Archives: family

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters

bjc mothers tell your daughters_edited-2.png

I’m counting on you, my flesh and blood, to somehow read my mind.

This is the central story of the book, of course, and the one that stayed with me the longest. When I think of this book, I think of this story, and when I first thought of starting this project, this is the story that came to mind. So I’ve been thinking about how I would portray it for a long time. Still, it always changes once I start working.

Originally I thought the middle aged daughter would appear in the background, along with the house, and the memories would be small elements, but the memories sort of loom larger and larger; this woman only has the past. And then I didn’t draw the middle aged daughter at all, because the mother hardly sees her. I mean, she feels her anger, she watches her, but she doesn’t see her child. She’s busy justifying herself.


Somewhere Warm


bjc somewhere warm_edited-2

In Dad’s defense, I also fled Kalamazoo for the southwest. Those winters were killing me. 

Believe it or not, this comic took longer to draw that any of the others. I must have drawn the girl’s face in panel 3 about 50 times. Same with panel 5, and the mom never came out quite the way I wanted. Panels 2 and 4 are perfect, though. That’s my biggest obstacle drawing comics. I can usually draw one character the way I want them to look 1 time. But drawing the same character over and over, with different expressions and postures, from different angles, and make them still appear to be the same character feels impossible. I need a life drawing class. Or a bunch of live models.

I left the clothes and skin intentionally blank so as not to detract from the girls’ freckles.

It’s kind of a sad story. The mom just starts to thrive on being alone when the kid comes back, and the kid coming back is going to be a massive burden on her. The mom doesn’t exactly change as a character, although she does grow. It’s sort of like she’s choosing to stay the course, even though she never gets the outcomes she expects, but the growth is in her understanding that some people are just awful. At least, in the future, she’ll understand that she’s pouring her love into an open sewer. I mean, I guess the baby can be seen as a chance at redemption, like maybe this time, if she just loves enough, the baby won’t grow up and leave her. But personally, I sort of think she’s going to keep getting the same outcome. The fact of the matter is, if she ever met a man who she didn’t drive away with her creepy, cloying talk, he would suck her dry.

Revenge of the Helicopter Kids

Listen, you don't know my parents like I do. My parents are better than those other parents and they deserve special treatment.

Listen, you don’t know my parents like I do. My parents are better than those other parents and they deserve special treatment.

If you, like me, have 150 Facebook friends with school age children, you’ve probably seen a bunch of photographs in the last couple weeks featuring kids in new clothing and various attitudes of excitement or embarrassment holding signs proclaiming “First Day of Kindergarten,” or some similar sentiment. Well, my cousin posted a picture of herself hugging her 5-year-old with a caption explaining that she was probably the worst mother in the world because she wasn’t going to make him hold an adorable sign before he went off to school, and that the child would probably be scarred for life because of this moral failure.

So that’s where this comes from. But it comes from other things, too, like the Boy once again losing his Kindle privileges because he was watching YouTube when he was supposed to be doing homework. I’ve been thinking along similar themes, how we hold our kids to higher standards than we hold ourselves, and most of us would find ourselves without smartphones if some higher power took them away when we used them to screw around on the Internet instead of work.

My feelings on helicopter parents are well-documented. OK, there are worse things you could do to your kids, but when we’re talking about good intentions gone wrong, wrapping your kids in bubble wrap and protecting them from every possible bump the universe might have to offer while arguing with teachers, coaches, and other experts on particular aspects of childhood why your kid is better than other kids and deserves to be treated differently is a terrific way to raise a completely helpless and ineffective human being. How long do you plan on doing this, I wonder? When I taught at the college level I heard of parents trying to advocate for their kids, and a couple kids told me their parents were going to call me, but my standard response was that I wasn’t going to talk to their mommies and daddies because they were grownups and responsible for their own behavior. Legally, I wasn’t supposed to discuss their grades with their parents either.

Still, my supervisor assured us that parents would call anyway. From the kids, I heard firsthand that their overbearing parents didn’t prepare them for life after high school. They didn’t know when to go to bed without being told; they didn’t know when to get up. All their lives they’d been told they were the best, and suddenly it turned out that they were just like everyone else. And, having never been allowed to fail, they didn’t know how to succeed on a level playing field.

Seriously, moms and dads, back off! Your kid should be given more responsibility every year so that they have actual adult experience when they are 18. They should be allowed to fail, over and over, so that they learn about consequences and how to make better decisions. They should be taught not to throw a fit when they don’t get everything they believe they deserve. Otherwise, they are going to be mightily disappointed when college spits them out into the real world and they don’t get every job and raise and promotion they think the world owes them.

However, if any children would like to argue that I deserve something more than I’ve achieved in life, I would welcome the effort.

When Good Moms Go Bad

Dad thought he had the situation under control until 9:30 pm, when someone remembered that they had to build a scale model of the Great Wall of China out of sugar cubes before second period tomorrow.

Dad thought he had the situation under control until 9:30 pm, when someone remembered that they had to build a scale model of the Great Wall of China out of sugar cubes before second period tomorrow.

If you’re like me, the question, “What’s for dinner?” fills you with terror and rage. It’s not that I mind sharing descriptions of my culinary genius with my family; it’s that this question is actually a prelude to prejudgment. Since I already know what the kids like and what they don’t, I’m well aware which dishes will be greeted with cheers and which are likely to result in disgusted faces and half-hearted whining. And I don’t care. I don’t care about your weird macaroni fetish or the fact that there is only one texture of food that you find palatable, which is mushy. There are more than 6 foodstuffs available for human consumption. The ability to eat countless dishes, comprised of many different ingredients and many different flavors and textures is one of the great benefits of being an omnivore and grownups who enjoy good food shouldn’t be held hostage to an undeveloped palate.

So, really, “What’s for dinner?” is a dangerous thing to say to someone who’s spent an hour in the kitchen.

Of course, when you’re a kid, it’s wholly innocent. It’s only 30 years later that I understand why my mother would get so bent out of shape about it.

Dragon Comics 75

Nothing like a little vacation from reality to make you appreciate vacations from reality.

Nothing like a little vacation from reality to make you appreciate vacations from reality.

I love having a family, but it’s not really possible to get very much done when they’re around. People want feeding, chauffeuring, cuddling, that sort of thing. Art, for me, is an extended and quiet process. It requires long chunks of time in which to think and feel before creation even begins, and then it wants no interruption as the new work unspools.

That’s why I take writing retreats once or twice a year, sometimes with other writers, and sometimes alone. I only use the computer for work-related tasks, avoid all social media, and spend every minute I’m not writing doing something inspiring: cooking, reading, hiking. Talking about writing. It helps keep me sane. I always set a lot of rules and a lot of goals, and I usually do pretty well with both. It’s a special, sacred space and I wish I could enter into it more often.

But having a family to come home to is a beautiful thing. Even though I sometimes miss having days on end filled with nothing but writing and quiet, I would miss my family more if I didn’t have them. the The kids will be able to take care of themselves someday. Not sure about The Man, though.

Too Cute!

QWERTYvsDvorak is just about to go on vacation. Wednesday’s Dragon Comic will be the last update of the year, but we’ll return in 2015 with all new ridiculousness for your wasting-time-at-work pleasure. Today, please enjoy these images of our RedBubble merchandise in the wild.

You too could look this happy, if only you had ordered an "I Can Get Better with Practice" Dragon shirt.

You too could look this happy, if only you had ordered an “I Can Get Better with Practice” Dragon shirt.

My nephlings got QWERTYvsDvorak shirts for the holidays, those lucky kids. Pictured here, this handsome fellow models the Dragon Comics “I Can Get Better with Practice” panel T-shirt, kids size, gray. “I can get better with practice,” is, of course, our motto. Words to live by, folks.

Princess Sealestia of Aquastria reigns supreme over the underwater world.

Princess Sealestia of Aquastria reigns supreme over the underwater world.

This lovely little lady is obviously enjoying the glamour and style of the kids pink “Princess Sealestia of Aquastria” T-shirt. There’s still a little time to order for Christmas, if you get express shipping. Your children could be almost as adorable as these kids. I mean, being incredibly good-looking and unspeakably talented runs in the family, obviously. I can’t guarantee that your kids will be just as adorable, but they can certainly be just as well dressed.

My Nephew Goes Wading, Take 2

My brother emailed me asking if I could send him a high-res version of “My Nephew Goes Wading,” the little doodle I scrawled out a while back when I was working on “My Sister and Brother-in-Law Look to the Future.” I sent him the files but really, it was just a scribble. I always meant to paint it. He wanted an art print or something! It was just a few lines. So, the last few days have been dedicated to fleshing it out.

It's hard to capture the joy on her face.

It’s hard to  accurately capture the joy on his face.

It’s not quite 100% satisfactory yet. In small format it looks good but for a blown up version it’s not quite there. Maybe in the next day or so.

Digital paint has a lot of advantages over real paint; it’s less messy, and it’s easier to take back, paint over, or adjust mistakes. It’s cheaper. It smells better. But…it’s still nice to have real materials (which I can’t afford right now so whatever). Painting is for the wealthy, or for people with patrons.

Anyway, “My Nephew Goes Wading, Redux.” I can get better with practice. I know I can.

My Nephew Goes Wading

The week after our wedding, we hiked to Sabino Dam with the family that remained in town. It’s kind of a long walk for little kids, but I promised them they’d like it when we got there, and they did. It’s only a very small amount of water spilling over, at least most of the year, but it forms a lovely wading pool, and there are even little patches of white sand here and there among the rocks, so you can pretend it’s actually the beach.

My nephlings were delighted. The baby went pantsless, the middle child rolled his cuffs all the way up and walked carefully, but the big one just jumped in wearing jeans. To me, that would have been very unpleasant (and walking back in wet jeans? Ug!) but he was deliriously happy up until they told him it was time to leave. I love the attitude captured in this drawing. He is so enraptured, and he is so uninterested in anything besides his own joy.


It’s a rough little image, but I guess he’s a rough little guy.

I like learning about the interplay of light and shadow, as well as the anatomy I pick up as I go. Wonder what other people think of this. Does it need more detail or does this picture tell the whole story?