My dearly beloved, who is a good person, a booster, a staid friend, a man who works quietly behind the scenes, an all-around unsung hero and the person who always shows up with a big car to help people move… THAT guy has a modest little Kickstarter going for a nifty illustrated fan-zine that brings together several of the coolest independent comics artists on the Portland-Seattle-Vancouver,BC corridor. I would like for him to have big success. In return for how he handled (handles) my voluble and recurring post-election storms with kindness and true emotional support, I now must do all I can to put eyes on his Kickstarter so that his quirky, arty, toilet-themed, sumptuously illustrated movie review book will see the light of day. Here’s the link.
HERE’s one of the rewards (designed by Brandon Graham aka @royalboiler):
*** And we now return to our regularly scheduled program, Nightmare World with Lil ***
This August 16, 1973 would also make a great enamel pin:
All across the media and the Internet, people are talking like this is a real turning point for the Trump Administration. Not the kind they used to talk about, the pivot, but a kind from which there’s no turning back for Trump. His ghostwriter for Art of the Deal thinks Trump will resign by the end of the year.
But I’ll believe it when it happens. Too many unbelievable things already happened to get us here. Plus, last night Rachel Maddow made vague intimations of the first signs of something maybe going awry with the Mueller investigation. And there’s always the threat of a big distracting war. So I’m not holding my breath.
I’m just waiting to see what happens when the Juggalos march on Washington and come across the Proud Boys next month.
Speaking of which, a warning just came into my Facebook timeline, all the way from Japan:
About a year after U.S. politics ate my interest in comic books, I found myself sitting outside Vancouver Comic Arts Festival, studying a Ben Sears print. It had been the longest, shittiest winter in a hundred years and now I was in the sun, staring at a picture like a child.
I had decamped that morning from Seattle to Vancouver, which is both foreign to me and closer to my original home in Alaska. Trump had decamped to Saudi Arabia. Between the two, my constant IV drip of political news had dried up. My phone didn’t work that well in Canada, so I couldn’t even text anyone for a secondhand hit. The Asian stock markets wouldn’t re-open for another 24 hours. No information was coming in except the colorful details of the Ben Sears print in my hands.
Being in an unfamiliar place in new sandals gave me a feeling from childhood that I’d forgotten. There’s liking yourself, and there’s being all right with the world. As adults we try to do both those things and be reasonably happy. But sometimes when you’re a little kid you have this sensation of liking yourself in the world. Liking the places where you and the world touch.
So that’s where I was, with the sun warming my back and bright artwork in my eyes, when my boyfriend tapped my shoulder and said, “We have to go to this panel—not enough people are showing up!”
Island is an Image project that Brandon Graham and friends put together. It’s part anthology and part comics magazine, and it’s full of treasures. Island #6 will be in comic shops next Wednesday (January 27) but today I’m looking back at the first and second issues, which included the chilling, warming, red-inked tale “I.D.” by Emma Rios.
I.D. opens with three strangers meeting in a coffee shop in a future that feels familiar. They are all part of a pilot program to have their brains transferred into new bodies. The story quickly zooms out to show a Mars colony beset by political unrest, then zooms all the way back in to the insides of each character’s mind, and the smallest moments between them, and the touch of their skin against surfaces. All of it is in red. Some of it is in the stark red and white of a china pattern. Some of it is in the dusty pinks of Mars. In the first panels, the two men learn that prickly 50-something Charlotte is a writer. Themes of the wry, observant writer are spun throughout I.D., turning the story into a fantastic literary mic-drop by Emma Rios, a woman who is largely known as a visual artist.
Charlotte, Mike and Noa start to talk–with awkwardness, diffidence and sparks of chemistry.Each has his or her own reasons for wanting a new body–and none of them thinks the others would understand.
The world beyond their restless broodiness soon comes crashing in–on the television, and through the glass windows of the coffee shop. Rios’s art pivots from quiet eavesdropping to slashing, furious shapes and lines. After a dizzying stream of action panels, the three manage to get away from the protesters and militarized police. It’s the chaos, not the conversation, that makes them intimates. And this leads to a strange night in Charlotte’s apartment, with more conversation, emotion, and hi-jinks. It’s the ultimate sleepover, really.
But all the while, there is this bone-chilling awareness that they are planning to let their bodies die. It’s a cold current running underneath the human warmth we see developing between the three. When they part the next morning, Rios wraps us around Charlotte alone in her apartment. We curl like Charlotte’s fingers around her cup of tea. Every solitary, visceral moment is allowed to pass in real time. And then she begins to write.
One of the things that makes this story immediately great is that Rios has the restraint to go small when everything big is happening. It’s taking place on a partly terraformed Mars, in a time of popular uprisings against an oppressive class system, in a future where science has advanced to the point where your brain can be extracted and put in another body. It is terrifying. And still everyone is just locked in their own skin and in their own experiences, trying to connect through a hailstorm of identity issues.
(I accidentally lapsed into re-cap mode, but there is much more to the story beyond what I described–the disturbing political and scientific details of the program, the outcomes of the psychologically and physically risky surgeries, and of course the arcs of the relationships between Mike, Noa, and Charlotte. Which is all to say, go get Island #1 and #2, and generally get into Island because this is the caliber of work that the series includes.)
2014 flowed, and 2015 ebbed. Good riddance, 2015. I want 2016 to count, and so I’m gearing up and probably over-doing my plans. But I don’t care.
2014 was the year I got back into comics and started blogging about them for fun. I pretty quickly stumbled into a weekly writing gig with the Best Shots team at Newsarama. I got to work with David Pepose, who is a great editor. I got in the groove of deadlines. I learned a lot about reviewing. I learned a lot about comics. I got over my fear of stating a strong opinion, or looking stupid. It was sometimes stressful, but it was increasingly just fun and manageable. It had a rhythm that fit into the other rhythms of my life.
THEN WHAT HAPPENED IS, near the end of 2014, I attracted a little more notice. I got invited to write meatier, more featurey stuff at Paste’s new comics section, and I was also encouraged the be the main comics-opining lady for a new Seattle feminist magazine, STACKEDD.
Around March, of 2015, I officially flamed out of all my writing gigs. The increased pressure and the writing deadlines that were a month out for more complex pieces (as opposed to the tighter weekly schedule for simple reviews) did not mix well with what was a very busy, often-stressful year at my day job (which is sometimes more like a day career). I WASHED UP. I was so stressed. I knew it was mostly in my head and that I did not need to actually have that level of deadline anxiety and shyness about editors and writing dread. But I just did. So I stopped writing altogether and felt dumb and embarassed.
A few months ago, I came moseying back in the form of “I’ll just say whatever I feel like on my own blog that has 21 followers” and that has felt good. I remembered why I started writing about comics in the first place: Because they are fun, they are bite-sized, I love visual art, and every issue is a perfect little “story school” lesson unit.
My weakest point in my general writing life — be it technical writing or long-form non-fiction or short stories — has always been structure and the rise and fall of energy. I’ve been better at the fabric of the thing and not so good at making a dress out of it. In a way that says, “Hey don’t take yourself so seriously!” and also, “Have some eye candy!”, comics gave me a way to digest some basic concepts about story-telling. I’m at the point of my long, stumbly, half-assed writing life, where I do not mind being remedial AT ALL. Just give me the make-up work and put me in summer school.
So in 2016, I am not aspiring to go back to a wider readership or get back in with publications. But I do want to write about comics a lot. On my official list of three writing goals for 2016, I wrote “Write about comics with gleeful abandon.” But because I need structure too, I am giving myself a schedule to write about some of the books I’ve been buying but not reading– the ones that look really cool and I haven’t gotten around to. And I’ll write about them in pieces at a regular pace. Copra, by Michel Fiffe, starting back at #1. Brandon Graham’s Island, which I clued into late, and which I hope will persist (you had me at Farel Dalrymple). Matt Huynh’s webcomic The Boat. Locust Moon’s Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, which is broken up into nice little units to chomp through systematically.
I’ll try to keep an eye on stuff as it comes out too, to the extent that I am having fun and not getting over-whelmed. To the extent that I can keep everything at the nice clip of essay-writing drills. I want to get better at writing something decent pretty quickly. Then hold that pace steady and try to ratchet up the quality through repeated practice.
My other two writing goals have to do with 1) a big ambitious book project that I shelved a few years ago and have always itched to return to, and 2) nerding out further and better on technical/business writing and editing (relates to day job as well as schemes for transitioning to the self-employed writing life).