I’m working on something big again! No, not lizard porn. This is just a little distraction from the big project. I took a photograph of some lizards copulating in a bush and it was blurry and unusable but the arrangement of their limbs was so cunning I had to make this little sketch to memorialize it. Anyway, the thing I’m working on is much, much worse than lizard porn.
The original plan was to write this comic before I tackled Women and Other Animals. The progression went: SSML put out the call for submissions, I joked that I considered myself the world’s foremost expert on Bonnie Jo Campbell, Bonnie Jo encouraged me to submit a abstract for the conference, after which I got accepted, after which she asked me to create this comic book. So the symposium was always waiting at the other end, and this story was always dancing in the background, but it took forever to get the script down; I couldn’t seem to focus on it until I’d gone through the stories. It’s still my introduction to the comic.
Another reason I wanted to draw this comic was because yonis were the only part of the human anatomy I didn’t draw in the course of illustrating the complete short fiction of Bonnie Jo Campbell.
I dug out the original “Yoni” essay, and, unlike a lot of my older work, this one seems to have aged pretty well. It’s a tight piece, although I’m much more conscious of trans-exclusionary language these days, so there are definitely parts that I would have tackled differently, and some of the things I wrote about my body 20 years ago are no longer the case since I turned 40. However, it was fun to research and write, and still fun to read.
I’m not sure if I was a redhead at the time of this story, but my hair does look great. Also, I realized after I laid out panel 1 that I didn’t have a laptop at the time. I didn’t have my first laptop until more than a year after this story happened, and it wasn’t a sleek little MacBook, it was an enormous, clunky ThinkPad. I drew something closer to the ThinkPad anyway, so we can all remember how ridiculously large computers used to be. Because the desktop CRT wouldn’t have fit in this comic.
The illustrated euphemisms in panel 1, clockwise from top left: honey pot, a pearl on the steps of the temple of Venus, phoenix nest, little man in a a boat, and of course, whenever possible, I do like to include my filthy little pussy in comics. Her name is Lupin. The little man in the boat is Peter Dinklage, because the world needs more Peter Dinklage. Obviously. “Phoenix nest” is sort of archaic and out of favor. When I Googled it, I didn’t get pictures of genitals or fiery bird nests. I got mostly pictures of people in fur suits.
The images in panel 2 came out of my files. When I gave this presentation, I blew them up and mounted them for visual aids. There was a big poster at one time, but I just found these little ones. It’s so great that I’m a packrat so I could recreate these original images as well as the hard copy I read that day. I tried to locate the video of the reading, but I’ve never had a copy and I don’t remember who shot it, so that was a bust. Not even a still photo. But the people who were there in the audience that day definitely remember.
You can’t tell kids to go outside and play anymore, because that’s, like, child abuse or something? I know too many kids who don’t know how to go outside and play; everything they know is on a screen, conceived of, directed by, and produced by other people. Maybe this is a minority opinion, but when I was 16 years old, if I was watching TV, using a computer, or playing a game, it was only because it was not possible at that moment for me to be making out in the backseat of a car. Granted the internet wasn’t as exciting or accessible in the early ’90s as it is now, but I still don’t think it’s better than sex. And you know I love the internet.
Any resemblance to actual teenagers, living or staring like undead zombies into a monitor in a small room with the curtains drawn tight to prevent the glare, is purely coincidental. I swear.
I drew that Ramones T-shirt and now I can’t get…”Sweet Disaster” by Dreamers out of my head. Weird world we live in. Gen X did not expect to live long enough to get sour about the next generation. Gen X didn’t expect any of this. Gen X would like to be sedated, but Gen X is too busy to take a break right now.
When I told the Fox that I was gearing up to write volume II of Bonnie Jo Campbell Comics, he told me that after I finished the first one I swore I would never do anything like that again. I literally have no recollection of saying that. It’s probably like having a baby, where your brain blocks out the level of pain you experienced so you’re not too terrified to do it again. I’m not terrified at all. After spending 300 hours drawing 8 pages for Linda Addison, an estimated 56 hours to draw 14 pages sounds like a cakewalk.
It seemed important to keep the style consistent between the 2 books, meaning I’m back to hand-lettering, which is very time consuming, but didn’t take as much time as I remember it taking. At any rate, I realize that even reverting to conventions like drawing most of the lines with a massive weight of 4 pixels and making people’s eyes look like tiny dots in any face that doesn’t take up the whole panel, I can’t revert entirely to the style in which I draw last year, because I learned so much in the process of drawing the first book that no matter what I do, the drawings are going to look better.
Another thing I noticed as I wrote the text was that my brain let go of the idea of summarizing. I’m not telling the story the way I did with “My Dog Roscoe.” I think this is Linda Addison’s influence, because everything she does is about poetry, including her prose. This comic seems to have more poetry to it than the early comics in the last set. It’s about “The Trespasser” but it doesn’t exactly tell you everything that’s in “The Trespasser.” It seeks to communicates the feelings and theme of “The Trespasser.”
To my mind, it’s a story that functions through juxtaposition. There are 2 girls who never meet in person, but who are heavily influenced by the artifacts of each other’s lives, and we’re forced to compare and contrast the characters while they are comparing and contrasting themselves, so that dictated the layout of the comic. This story is really rich in symbols, too, and it was hard to choose which ones to use. In particular, Bonnie Jo spends a lot of time describing the objects moved by the 16-year-old, but I think the portrait of the 13-year-old with her gymnastics trophy surrounded by bronze animals gets at the heart of it. I didn’t realize that bronze figurines of dinosaurs and farm animals were common things to collect, but according to Google Image Search, they must be.
A lot of people think of American Salvage as being a more androcentric book, but this story feels connected to the themes of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the plethora of dudes who don’t understand women soon enough.
In keeping with my new principle of not censoring the fact that I am an adult who participates in as well as illustrates adults activities, here is a little promotional flyer I drew and wrote for an upcoming event. The Coyote referred to this piece as “X-rated,” but I give it a soft R at best. The language is the sexiest thing about it. Writing the text was a lot of fun. My love of alliteration is one of the things that got me through 6 years of copywriting. If only all the products had been circus-themed adult events, maybe I wouldn’t have burned out of that job.
For this piece, I downloaded 2 new fonts: Medicine Show Caps and Cirkus, both of which are adorable. I referenced many old circus posters as well as images of big cats and spent a lot of time trying to get the background to not overwhelm the foreground. There is a particular artistry that goes with this circus style of poster, immediately recognizable, immediately eye-catching, slighting disorienting. The idea of a circus is to put you in a particular emotional state: altered, receptive, heightened…. The imagery is the beginning.
What can I even say about this? Well, I’m all about being not ashamed. So I am not ashamed. Whimsical designs haven’t made my rich. Maybe off-color ones will do the trick. Perhaps small town orgies will by my claim to fame.
The words aren’t mine; they came out of a serious conversation with my friend the Coyote. He was only trying to be a little funny. Obviously, the statement is objectively true. You can’t do it alone. As soon as it came out of his mouth, I said, “That’s a T-shirt,” immediately seeing the design fully formed in my mind. So why shouldn’t I draw it and post it in my RedBubble shop? I work fast now.
RedBubble has a bunch of new product types, including wall clocks and acrylic blocks. I’m not sure what you do with an acrylic block. I remember them being a thing in the ’70s, but now we can just use obsolete electronics for paperweights. But surely, someone, somewhere would be delighted to received an acrylic block as a present.
Yesterday’s comic being so busy, I wanted to get back to a simpler style, but, having already decided to only draw the animals mentioned in the story, rather than any people, I sort of got carried away with their various textures. Still, this took less time than any other story out of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters so far.
In the story, the narrator doesn’t answer her mother when her mother asks her where she was, but the reader knows that she was at the women’s clinic, getting an abortion, because having a baby at 47 when you’re already a grandmother several times over and your husband is a dog and you’ve been working on your PhD thesis forever is bad idea. I totally feel this one. It’s such a tremendous relief–throughout the whole story she is thinking nice things about being pregnant and having a baby, but she’s also thinking about everything she’ll lose, and more to the point, all the complications that come with sexual reproduction and the raising of an autonomous individual who feels like they’re part of you but makes independent decisions you don’t want them to make–and when she makes the choice that’s for her, not her husband, or her daughter, or her mom, it’s like a wave of possibility washing over the last page. And there’s the sweet parallel with the silkie walking away from her nest (isn’t that a fluffy silkie I drew?) except chickens are kind of dumb and don’t have tons of potential besides eggs and meat, and the woman is really smart and still has a lot of things to accomplish in her life.
I’m bummed I couldn’t find a good picture of a love dart sticking out of a slug. But that’s a love dart, zooming toward the slug (magnified for clarity). Sexual reproduction is really complicated. And ridiculous.
If it doesn’t make sense, read the book.