Tag Archives: light

Prepare to Enter…the Scary Door

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Really, it’s more magical than scary. But it’s mostly a door. 

This should have been a post about how my novel was now available in paperback, but apparently it won’t be available in paperback until tomorrow, and I have no links. But I do have a picture of this magical door. The Man took me to see an old barn for my birthday, and while it doesn’t sound very enchanting when you put it that way, it was quite the charming barn, particularly in the right light. Plus we were in northeastern Kansas, so the options for excitement were limited to begin with.

This barn has a name: the John Dickenson Barn. Apparently, it has achieved a measure of fame among old-barn-enthusiasts. It was built between 1852 and 1861; that is to say, it took 9 years to build. It’s in fairly good repair–the owners have put a lot of work into it since the 1980s–and has hosted many weddings in the last 12 years. This is my favorite shot, but there was one more that was almost as good, which shows a wide section of the loft, where various items–animal skulls, wagon wheels, tacks, and tools–are displayed.

As we drove, south to north, across the country, The Man and I noted a large number of crumbling and abandoned buildings, and discussed a photodocumentary project where we just stopped at every single one we saw.

Doing my best here to keep my promises to myself, re: art. But it’s tough. Generally speaking, I have been a pretty angry person my entire life, which is something I spend a lot of time working on. I’m not really angry now, though. I’m mostly terrified and despondent. Any words of encouragement are welcome. I actually had an idea for a comic–a funny one–tonight, which is the first time that’s happened in weeks. Maybe I’ll even remember it for later.

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Good at Heart

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You can tell which letter I did yesterday and which I did today, because yesterday’s letter are all too skinny. Still, a cool effect.

Some bulletins boards I make for the kids, but every once in a while I make one strictly for me. Hopefully the kids enjoy and get something out of it, but I needed the reminder. The lift.

The quote, of course, is from Anne Frank, written not terribly long before she and her family were betrayed to the Nazis and sent to the death camp where all of them, except for Anne’s father, died. About 70 MILLION people died in World War II. But Anne was right. In general, people are really good at heart. Just sometimes, they fall for the darkness. The darkness seems to be cyclical. And catching.

The political situation in America right now is terrifying to me. The darkness has a platform and a voice, but I have to believe that the light always prevails. Still, I cried in the car going home after I made this bulletin board, contemplating all the commonplace hatred that has bubbled to the surface of society in the last 20 years.

The butterflies refer to the poem “I Never Saw another Butterfly,” and the eponymous book in which it appears. It’s a collection of poetry written by Jewish children who were interned at Terezín, the Nazi’s “model” camp outside of Prague. While Terezín wasn’t a death camp, over 90% of the Jews who went sent there did not survive the war. The single yellow leaf is a reference to Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, a book that should be required reading for human beings. It’s partially a Holocaust narrative, but it’s also a manual for life, written in a time of death: a light in a the darkness.

The moral of the story is that you have to remain hopeful, or the darkness will swallow you.

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In other words, you paint your own world.

In other words, you paint your own world.

If you haven’t read it already, stop reading at the end of this sentence, go read this Toni Morrison article about what artists do in times of dread, and then come back. Obviously, I can’t say anything as well as Toni Morrison. (But if you’re a rebel who doesn’t follow directions, I can summarize: When the worst things are happening, this is when it is most important for artists to express themselves.)

It’s easy, especially for creatives, to become overwhelmed with sorry, and even with anger, but feelings don’t make a difference. Actions do. We may feel impotent, immobile in the face of forces that seem much larger than our individual strength, but every small voice counts against injustice. If something upsets you, something that feels fundamentally wrong, don’t despair. Say something. Write something. Paint something. Don’t let the enormity of the task overwhelm you. You are not alone. Someone is listening. Someone needs to hear what you have to say.

This comic is for the real kitty and bunny, who sometimes get angry or depressed about the meanness that runs through humanity and frustrated by the feeling that fixing the problem is out of their control. It’s true that all the Problems of the World cannot be solved by one person, but many of the problems of the world can be solved be individuals and small groups. Sometimes just saying the right thing at the right time to the right person is enough to effect a change, to raise up one more spark of the divinity of kindness to light the world.

That’s why I have to keep reminding myself never to harden my heart, and to always answer hatred with love (and also why I can never read the comment forums). I have to be ready with the right answer when the moment presents itself, whether that’s drawing a ridiculous comic in support of a doctrine of love, or speaking up when I hear an ugly microaggression being casually spewed. I mean, I’m not perfect (sometimes I do read the comment forums) but I always feel better with an open heart. I always feel better when I choose to see the light instead of set my mind to the darkness.

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Opportunity, perception, whatever: opening doors...

Opportunity, perception, whatever: opening doors…

What a week. Too many plans, too much going on, not enough sleep. It makes me cranky. At least my splintered hands are 90% healed.

Today’s comic, as opposed to Monday’s and Wednesday’s, came off in record time, just over an hour for the entire thing, including the text. The only parts I had to think about were the hand on the door, and how dragon looks turning into the light. Used the model for that one! Speaking of which, I have a commission for a little clay model that must be completed soon. But first I have to write these essays about graphic novels for this other project. And then I’m making curtains for Mrs. and Mrs. Cat.

Plus this week I booked my first paying photo gig. People have been approaching me about photography work all year, for trade or for volunteer stuff, and especially since I started shooting DSL, but nothing ever came together before. This one looks definite. We’ll shoot half out in the desert and the other half in this stunning house belonging to a friend who lives in the suburbs.

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Everyone's a superhero. Everyone's a Captain Kirk.

Everyone’s a superhero. Everyone’s a Captain Kirk.

The first step from the dark to the light can be blinding. And intense. You might see things you’re not ready to see. You might be forced to confront ideas that you’ve been trying to ignore. It’s tempting to keep the scary stuff hidden in the shadows, but you can’t go stumbling around in the dark forever, either.

Fortunately I was able to recycle the background from yesterday, because this weekend was a really busy one, and this comic was started shortly before dinner and finished just after midnight. But here it is. We might hang back for a little bit, scope out the situation before committing.

Have courage, Dragon!

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I thought you said don't go into the light.

I thought you said don’t go into the light.

And the light comes spilling in.

Feels a little like I’ve been stumbling around in the darkness myself. This comic is visually fairly simple, especially since I’ve been paying so much attention to light lately, but it took forever to draw, mostly because I haven’t been feeling all that spectacularly lately.

However, Dragon and the Blue Morpho Butterfly called Hope are rapidly approaching some sort of revelatory room, one that appears brilliantly illuminated.

Maybe tomorrow will be a brighter day.