Tag Archives: poetry

Poetry Is in the Air

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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.

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Happy as Kings Bulletin Board

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Presumably, successful kings of prosperous countries who are beloved by their people and enjoy a reign free from war or internecine conflict.

Look what I made while I was almost too depressed to stand up! Except for the placement of the attribution it’s almost perfect. Good thing the “ALL” is in caps. It sort of mitigates some of the bitter sentiment here. We should all be happy. There’s plenty of stuff for everyone. I’m sure of that.

The quote–or poem, rather, as this is a poem in its entirety–comes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. I didn’t remember it from my childhood, but came across it in my copy of the book, which the Girl was reading for her English class poetry unit. That’s the whole sentiment. My copy of the book belonged to my mother as a child. She wrote her name and address on the frontispiece when she was a little girl. So that’s wholly sentimental.

The black letters are based on the Minya Nouvelle Regular typewriter-style font. The other letters are, of course, of my own devising. The chalkboard letters were created by hand-tearing each letter rather than cutting.

This piece took about 4 days, working an average of 2 1/2 hours a day. I hope it doesn’t blow away like the last one did.

How and Why by Robert Graves

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How and Why by Robert Graves

This is sort of a repeat, in the sense that I’ve posted the image before, but sort of not, due to the way I started blogging, which was to create 6 months’ worth of posts in a week. It always seems so sad when someone’s just started something like a blog and you go there and barely find any content. So I decided to backdate the entries to make it look like I had been blogging for 6 months before I started publicizing new posts in any way. Consequently, there’s some wonderful content that’s been viewed by about 6 people.

I love this piece; it’s always been my intention to clean it up in Photoshop and, if I can get permission from the estate of Robert Graves, to sell prints. The original hangs beside my desk and has for years, and yet only now I’m noticing a missing apostrophe. There’s a few higgledy-piggledy lines. Ink used to make me more nervous than it does now. It’s weird that the text isn’t straight even though this was all penciled out before inking, and I used a ruler and everything.

My hand is getting better; next week comics will return. Originally I wanted to post a picture of some kids wearing QvD merch today, but apparently it’s not a good time to get permission from the family so I’m waiting to see if I can’t get a photograph of some different kids in my clothes. Otherwise I’ll share another of my favorite Trickster’s Hat projects.

Night with Robert Frost: Autumn Bulletin Board

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I’ve also been acquainted with the night. 

People seem pretty eager to jump into the spirit of October this year, and my last bulletin board was looking kind of shabby, and I’m just completely focused at this moment, so I took 3 days this week (just under 6 hours total) to put up my October bulletin board, which is always my favorite one of the year.

I was thinking bats, because it’s practically the only trope I haven’t hit in the many years I’ve been doing this. Then I looked for a poem, and found “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost. You can read it in the link; I was working in the rain, so the lighting was terrible when I took this photo. But you get the gist. I decorated the calaveras with Sharpies; everyone in Tucson loves calaveras and I could envision them amidst the candles and piles of marigolds, although I wish I had more time to work on them, maybe make a couple more.

The poem is also in Sharpie. It’s not my best lettering; I’ve kind of been doing a lot of lettering lately and my hand just wasn’t in the game and I was feeling really rushed. The school is having a 60th anniversary party on Sunday and there’s more work to finish up the comic book: resizing the cover and editing the blog posts down to 400 words a piece.

When I wrote those words, it didn’t occur to me that they would exist off the internet. Hard copies seem to change everything.

Black Cat Bulletin Board

A cat is watching

A cat is watching

Happy October! My funny little black cat, who has been the subject of at least two other blog posts, gets her chance to shine in the spotlight, or rather, glower in the shadows. I knew I wanted to do a black cat bulletin board this year, and I was trying to figure out how that would look on a black background. At the same time, after searching for relevant text, I found this Rainer Maria Rilke poem:

"Black Cat" by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Black Cat” by Rainer Maria Rilke

Ah, “invisible.” That was the key. I went in yesterday and blocked out the poem, then inked it with a silver metallic Sharpie, which died halfway though, so I had to run out to the nearest Walgreen’s and buy their last silver Sharpie, but even so, the text didn’t take that long. Maybe an hour. I went back in today to put it together. I had some big ideas about making the eyes sparkle with the gold and bronze Sharpies, but it didn’t look as great as I thought it would, and the bronze Sharpie was dying, even though it was new in the package. Anyway, yellow is more striking.

My kitty is fierce.

My kitty is fierce.

I used black construction paper for the ears, nose and mouth (the background is black butcher paper, so it’s a subtle difference) and the whiskers are the silver Sharpie again. Very minimalist, which took a lot less time than usual, but I did spend quite a while on the eyes.

Dragon Comics 98

Not all who wander are lost. But some percentage of those who wander are lost. And it's probably not a small percentage either.

Not all who wander are lost. But some percentage of those who wander are lost. And it’s probably not a small percentage either.

Getting lost in the woods is a way of life.

Antioch College, where I earned my psych degree, faces a 500-acre nature preserve, Glen Helen, which a lot of people consider a sort of hotbed of magic. Whether it is or isn’t, I spent a lot of time wandering around there, getting deliberately lost so I could find my way out again. As a result, I know those woods very well, well enough to walk around them in the dark and know where I am. You could probably drop me in them now, almost 20 years later, and I wouldn’t have any trouble getting out again.

I used this same technique to learn how to navigate in Chicago when I moved there after college. Even though I grew up in the north suburbs, we rarely visited the city, and when we did it was typically to very specific destinations, usually with detailed instructions. When I lived there as an adult and got irritated with the traffic, I would simply find some other way. Yes, I got ridiculously lost all the time, but after a couple months, that didn’t happen anyway. When I thought I was lost, I would suddenly realize that I had been lost in this exact place before. All I had to do then was remember how I found my way out the previous time.

This was before GPS, of course,

Now I have The Man, whose sense of direction is unerring, except for this one time that the VA prescribed him a very powerful headache medication and he became disoriented in an IKEA parking lot. Typically, though, he can look at a map and recall all the salient features, even in a city he’s never visited before. Seriously, I’ve probably flown into Miami-Dade Airport over 30 times in my life, and the idea of renting a car and driving myself out of there is terrifying. The Man not only tackled this task with no anxiety, he also refused to pay extra for the SunPass and managed to drive us all over the state without ever once getting on a toll road. He can drive from my dad’s cousin’s in Coral Gables to my mom’s sister’s in Boca Raton without even thinking about it. At least that’s how it looks. He does have GPS, so I could be wrong about the extent of his abilities.

Ode to the World’s Most Horrible Cat

This is actually a sketch of Algernon, who passed away a few weeks ago. If Lupin noticed I was drawing her portrait she would deliberately move every 15 seconds.

This is actually a sketch of Algernon, who passed away a few weeks ago. If Lupin noticed I was drawing her portrait she would deliberately move every 15 seconds and probably try to take the pencil out of my hand. Just imagine a fluffy black ball of evil with poisonous yellow eyes.

I’m not much of a poet. But Lupin is not much of a cat.

Lupin, a Long-Hair

I am a kitty with fur so fine
I sit on your things to prove that they’re mine
I know that you love me because I’m divine
I love you too but won’t give you a sign

You scream at dead mousies? I’ll bring you some more
You don’t need these books, right? I’ll knock them to the floor
You’re trying to sleep now? I’ll scratch on this door
You cleaned up my fur dread? I’ll just shed four

When your stepkids pet me I’ll scratch at their faces
When your husband gets dressed I’ll eat his bootlaces
When you drop your elastics I’ll hide them in places
When you invite friends in I’ll lick without graces

Because I’m the queen I must always be free
Because there’s a window I must climb up to see
Because I’m the kitty I’ll tell you the key
Because you’re my person you must always love me

(This sketch is from an exercise in the Trickster’s Hat that I did not do properly. But it’s a nice sketch of a cat much more lovable than the one in whose honor I dashed these verses.)