This comic is basically a Facebook status that I read many months back. The person who posted it gave me permission to turn it into a comic. The fact that the person who posted it is the wife and mother of these characters and not directly involved in the anecdote obviously doesn’t bother me at all.
As I recall, there are a couple of pieces of American Salvage that appear in Bonnie Jo’s second novel, Once upon a River, which is apparently being made in a movie even as we speak, and the events of “Family Reunion” are a big part of Once upon a River, which I guess means that in short order we’re going to have a feature film in which a teenage girl shoots off the tip of her rapist’s weapon.
I guess America is seriously ripe for this kind of honesty in cinema. If more rapists got their dicks shot off, maybe there would be fewer rapists in the world.
It’s really only a couple of pixels, but it did seem like a kind of far-out thing to draw. Then again, so are gutted deer and spit roast pigs. And this is the 4th comic in a row that features a gun.
In the story, Marylou finally recognizes the violence that was done to her through the metaphor of a gutted deer. The word “rape” doesn’t appear in the story, and there’s no particular recollection of the actual event, although she describes the details of the moments before and after. The pig makes a vile, but apt metaphor as well.
Selective mutism is a not completely uncommon response to trauma among children. There’s a certain degree of power in willful silence. The way Marylou experiences the world, jumping back and forth between current and past events, is also a result of trauma. In illustrating the story, I jumbled up the images, quotes, and captions, too. Everything is mixed up. But Marylou has a moment of clarity at last. It’s a satisfying ending, the kind of justice that we so rarely see in the real world.
This is something from my sketchbook, the only comic of a million ideas that I had while drawing “Close Encounters of the ∞ Kind” that I actually recorded. It never got worked up because I was busy and it was dark. But, man, we are living in some dark times. I had a whole screed that I intended to publish here about how dark those times are, for me personally and for the world at large, but suddenly I’m not feeling it. A few weeks ago, a Facebook friend asked, “People with invisible disabilities, what do you wish other people understood about living with your chronic illness?” and I wrote, “I am literally doing the best I can.”
I am literally doing the best I can.
In case anyone was wondering, I finished all the art for Close Encounters; it took me about 8 months all told, working an average of maybe 20 hours a week for most of it. Linda loved it. Although it was meant to be ambiguous and mind-bending, beta readers seemed to find it a bit too ambiguous and mind-bending, so I’m adding just a bit more text. But honestly, its intention is to be something that the reader has to work at and at this point in my life whether or not an individual gets my art has little impact on my artistic process.
What bums me out: the artwork is about 1000 times better than what usually ends up in my webcomics, and it still bears about as much resemblance to the pictures in my head as a 5-year-old’s crayon drawing does to a portrait of their family, and to get it that good required an entire month to draw a single page. Granted, I learned a lot in the process and if I had to do it again, it might take only 4 or 5 months, but that’s still too slow for the kind of comics I want to produce. You need at least a page a week. At 4 pages a week, these webcomics are as good as it gets right now. It’s a conundrum.
Hopefully, I can announce the next comic book on the horizon pretty soon.
“Extrovert” is the preferred spelling but I prefer “extravert” because it makes more sense to me. It is an accepted spelling. I don’t seem to have anything else to say tonight. I wrote this comic 3 weeks ago and I don’t really remember writing it. It’s kind of funny, in context.
You’ll have to take my word for it that all those background feathers looked way more amazing without the rest of the comic. But you get the pictures. Those are feathers. Everything is floating after getting through the great pressure of the molten core in comic 161. Mmm…allegory. These feathers took way too long to draw. Dragon flying was fun. The Man looks comfortable, but he usually does.
We are going somewhere, though. That’s the thing about travel. You always get somewhere. Once I missed a turn in Indiana and, instead of getting on the interstate, spent hours driving farther and farther away from civilization until I found myself creeping along below 15 miles an hour behind a horse and buggy. No kidding: lost in time as well as in space. But I was somewhere. Amish country, maybe.
There have seriously been moments in my marriage when the greatest stressor we faced as a couple was the elementary math curriculum. I never mastered anything beyond algebra myself, and of course mathematics education just looked a lot different in the ’80s. The Man is pretty good at math—he can do calculus—but he doesn’t know how to teach little kids like I do. So sometimes the only way for the Girl to get her homework done is for The Man to explain it to me so I can explain it to her. I wasn’t sure how funny this joke was, but I told it to one of the volunteer moms and the librarian at my library and they both laughed.
Presumably, knowing algebra is something of an achievement, because I still scored in the 66th percentile on the math section of the GRE despite being, of course, a liberal arts major. That means I’m better at math than 66% of all people who have, or are about to have, completed a bachelor’s degree and hope to attend graduate school. This tells me that most people must not know any math at all.
There’s also a little joke here about the kind of helicopter parents who would call the school to challenge the basic curriculum because their kid didn’t like it, because these people exist. They are not uncommon today, but that’s another thing you didn’t see too much of in the ’80s.
Sometimes the journey inward is the scariest one of all. If there are things you’ve hidden from yourself, you can guarantee figuring them out will be an unpleasant experience. Speaking of unpleasant experiences, today I got a cortisone shot in my hand. The PA told me I probably shouldn’t draw tonight but obviously there’s no helping me. We’ll see.
According to Facebook, I was wrong, and some people did notice my lack of comics, but I guess they were all people who were too polite to say something about it. And I missed my comics. I miss expressing myself in a public forum where I can see that my words have been read by 100s, and sometimes 1000s of humans/sentient creatures trapped within humans. And the people who like my comics the most seem to prefer Dragon Comics to my better-illustrated work. I actually wrote a not-Dragon comic earlier in the week, but it will keep until Dragon works out some of Dragon’s issues.
The line about the kitty litter also went over very well on Facebook, where I used it, in a slightly different form, to describe what middle age could go do. Seriously, when you are still about 9 1/2 inside, it’s disconcerting to hear the words “shingles” and “astigmatism” from 2 different medical professionals in the same week. Also shingles medication is terrible. The pills are 800 milligrams and the side effects can also eat a bag of kitty litter. (Yeah, shingles are bad too.) I declined the prescription to correct the impending near-sightedness because I can still read books without issue, and I can barely afford prism lenses, let alone bifocals, and because I am in denial about this middle age thing.
The Man gets credit for this idea. We were driving around in the desert both lamenting the loss of our glasses, but apparently he found his under the seat, whereas mine have been gone for a couple of weeks. Doubtless they will turn up again after I have spent several hundred dollars and several hours of my life replacing them. Anyway, he said our glasses were probably together having little baby monocles. Monocle is a funny word. We also like to imagine our cell phones mating. We are funny people.