Tag Archives: women

Family Reunion

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I wasn’t sure if I was really going to draw that final panel, but I drew it.

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.

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World of Gas

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I envy people with this kind of energy, but not people with 3 teenage sons.

Back in 1999, I felt pretty much the same about Y2K. What a lot of fuss. I worked that night; New Year’s Eve is a good time to make money. But people can always find something to get riled up about. There are still dirty dishes to wash at the end of the day. If you can’t identify with that, you won’t understand this story. The last panel could have been Susan washing dishes, but I drew dirty dishes for “My Sister Is in Pain” and it’s gross. Dishes are a pain and I have to do them at least twice a day. I love the idea of all the machines stopping for a while and people just shutting up.

That Pur-Gas logo looks sweet.

The Trespasser

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Can’t imagine what Google must think of me after some of the queries I ran to get source images for this comic. The worst part is that I didn’t get any relevant results for “cum stained mattress” and had to improvise anyway. 

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.

Your Picture in the Paper

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In case you’re wondering, my performance at the Dan Quayle rally did not go over well among his supporters. I’m lucky I’m cute, or I’d probably get beaten up a lot more often.

To be fair, the TV station must have figured out their mistake because they appear to have added 2 women talking to the clip and cut out 2/3 of my friend’s interview by the time I wrote this comic. But we had a good laugh about it Saturday night, my friend being the first to point out the irony/institutionalized sexism. Also to be fair, my friend is a very cool white guy, and very well-spoken. But there were a LOT of other voices KGUN9 might have chosen to air.

A lot of people’s favorite sign on the internet seemed to be the one that read, “So bad even introverts are here,” and that really resonated with me. I have strong beliefs, but I find social action terrifying. Even calling my representatives fills me with dread, but the last few weeks have inspired me to take more a participatory approach. I did call my senators, and emailed them, and had a letter I wrote (printed on paper and signed) hand-delivered to my congressperson. And I forced myself to get up and march, even though contemplating the act was nerve wracking and anxiety provoking. And I ended up having what I’d consider, under any other circumstance, a really unflattering, and somewhat misleading picture of myself circulated to 10s of 1000s of people because for a split second I looked the part, even if, for 25 years, I haven’t really acted it. I mean, I write, I talk, I educate individual people here and there who seem receptive to opening their minds, but there are so many folks who have consistently done so much more. I admire them, but I don’t know how to force myself to act like them.

I am a lot more comfortable behind my keyboard. Today I was invited to this National Write Out action, with the theme “What’s worth fighting for is worth writing for.” But, of course, that’s all backward. Writing is easy. Going out and making noise is hard. Still, if someone wants me to hashtag something for the good of humanity, it’s almost the least I can do.

Sunstone Mosaic Mandala

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It’s big and orange and pointy.

Wow, my head hurts. And this giant bright mandala isn’t really helping. Although it’s a pretty joyful image.

Must report that this weekend was more uplifting than I’d imagined. Miraculously, and for the first time in years, I was able to wake up without assistance in the morning, so I was one of 15,000 people in the Tucson Women’s March, which turned out to be a beautiful and encouraging experience that vastly reduced my overall level of fear. My city, at least, is a safe place.

That night I attended a fun party full of happy, upbeat people, and when I got home I had messages from 4 different friends alerting me of the fact that an image of me looking like a total badass made the paper. It’s true that I looked very fierce, but actually, I was singing along to “The Greatest Love of All,” my leather jacket was pleather and from Hot Topic, and my fingerless gloves were Yelp swag. But people seemed to appreciate that I looked like an angry, roaring woman, and now there’s a picture of me with crazy hair and my mouth wide open being seen by 1000s of people on the internet.

Today I did a photo shoot for my next big project, but I was supposed to do 2 photo shoots and somehow got my wires crossed and missed the first. Frustrating. Hope to rectify as soon as possible.

To You, as a Woman

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I don’t think there’s anything even darkly funny about this one. 

“To You, as a Woman” may be the most difficult story in this book, the hardest luck, the saddest progression. It took a long time to see my way into the comic, and it wasn’t until I took a big step back from the second/first narrative and to a distant, plural, third that it was even possible to reframe the piece into this format. For a while it seemed insurmountable. Just like real life trauma, the story jumps around in time and emotions, jumbling an entire sequence of terrible events together so that each cut runs together while standing alone with its own bright pain, less simple to pull out the threads.

About an hour before I sat down to write the script, a woman who’s been reading these comics asked where she could buy Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, and I sent her an Amazon link, and then, because it’s my regular habit on Amazon, I clicked to see the 1- and 2-star reviews, which are usually hilarious. Not today. Here we have people wholly incapable of engaging with literature on a critical level, disguising their misogyny with crude dismissal of nuance and reality, blithely unaware of their own massive prejudices. These are the people who read a book about 16 different characters and claim that all the stories are the same, not because they are, but because they think all women are the same.

You don’t have sympathy for substance abusers, or unwed mothers, or people who receive food assistance? Maybe you should ask about the myriad, lifelong jabs of physical and emotional pain that led them to make those choices before you judge. You don’t like authors discuss rape too often? The 1 in 3 women who are sexually assaulted in their lifetimes don’t like experiencing it. And let’s face it: if you’re born into poverty and raised up in poverty and struggle through your life in poverty, the odds of being sexually assaulted are probably higher. Go read Fifty Shades of Gray and tell everyone what a remarkable piece of quality fiction it is if you think there should be happy stories about rape and you’re just the informed critic to spread the good news. This book is about the way people actually are: vulnerable, flawed, attempting, every day, to pull themselves out of the miasma of their circumstances despite the constant pain of being alive.

It’s sickening, how easily some people manage to look at huge segments of the human population and decide those people aren’t human. You expect that kind of ignorance in the comments section of YouTube, or Reddit. Not from an Amazon book review. I wonder, what circumstances in your life taught you to be so self-centered, so casually cruel, so unwilling to exhibit empathy? Why do you read literature at all if you’re only content with work that reinforces your narrow beliefs? Isn’t the point of literature to better understand the human condition, one point of view at the time?

 

Daughters of the Animal Kingdom

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If you’ve never Googled “slug love dart,” go ahead and do that now. We’ll wait. 

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.