It’s Yom Kippur, and I have the day off. I took a shower, threw away our toaster (it was covered in water from a leaking sink and shuddered when I turned it on) and used the oven instead. I realized it was 10:46am and the cause of my ennui might be lack of coffee, so I made some espresso in an old-fashioned stovetop espresso maker. I put Horizon organic salted butter on one slice, Nutella on the other.
To be totally honest with you, I sat on the floor — FLOR (TM) Golden Poodle — and attempted to meditate earlier this morning. I couldn’t clear my head, and I kept thinking of “Nasu Amida Butsu” instead of the sayings from Deepak Chopra’s book. I settled on Namaste. My left knee felt tweaky. I moved into a yoga pose and then decided to check my email.
Someone convinced me to take a Graphic Novel class at SVA. It seemed like a “should” but not a “yeah!”. Our first assignment is a one-page comic with the theme “me.” “But you can lie,” the instructor noted. She’s a slight Asian woman who published a very nice graphic novel that was reviewed in the New York Times a couple of years ago. Maybe last year. I don’t know, I just skimmed.
This seems like one more failed enterprise waiting to happen.
First of all, comics? I don’t know anything about comics. I thought this was a “graphic novel” class. You know, William Blake? Illuminated manuscripts? I don’t read “comics,” unless you count the Archie & Jugheads from my childhood and a weirdly compelling version of The Rats of Nimh that I recall enjoying.
Yesterday I struggled with drawing, scanning, cropping, and finding a 30-day demo of a Mac competitor to Photoshop.
I spent way too much time looking at Geoff McFetridge’s and Mike Mills’ sites and feeling inadequate (the former) and contemptuous (the latter). Miranda July, my ass.
We are surrounded by great art. Look, it’s Ziggy Stardust on VH1 classic. At 11:33am on a Monday. Recorded live from 197…?
The Ikea pillow next to me. Black and white. Just some simple sketches of leaves. It looks so easy.
I picked out The Man Who Sold the World on the piano once. It’s easy. Like playing the scales.
I’m starting to think that maybe I will never have my Ziggy Stardust moment. Maybe I’ll never create an unforgettable character. A lot of forces have to align for that to happen. Doesn’t mean that David Bowie’s entire oeuvre is to be sniffed at. Look, his wife is selling luxury luggage on QVC. Does that cheapen it? I’m not sure.
The instructor of this class has basically given me an uncompletable assignment. I cannot sum up “me” on one side of an 8.5 x 11” piece of paper, with panels. (Panels??? Agh, don’t get me started.)
Here are a handful of the ways I have begun to approach this assignment:
ATTEMPT ONE: DRAW NEW STUFF! ABOUT A PR LADY! I drew a few things representative of the state I’m currently in. Hiding behind giant computer monitors. Wearing giant, foolish, floral scarves. Pretending to love you but secretly hating you. You know, the PR basics.
It started to get a little “Cathy,” if you know what I mean.
I cobbled it together on an 8.5 x 11” piece of paper, without panels (so far). It just didn’t seem altogether representative of Who I Am as a Person.
ATTEMPT TWO: REPURPOSE I have folders and folders (digital) of scans of doodles. I thought I should just slap all of them on the page and give it a “Sixteen Hundred Characters in Search of an Author” type theme. One Charlie Brown Tiger, three Evil Balloons, and a pair of Elderly Reptiles later…it was link the contents of a junk drawer strewn on a tabletop.
ATTEMPT THREE: PENCIL! WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT BEFORE? I grabbed a piece of white card stock and took it to the living room. I propped it up on my knees against this month’s copy of House Beautiful to keep it straight. Panels. Hm. I divided the page up into nine panels. No, I didn’t use a ruler. I don’t have a ruler.
That’s as far as I got.
ATTEMPT FOUR: EMBRACE YOUR LAMENESS I opened up Keynote on my laptop. I typed captions to invisible drawings on each slide. They involved things like the apartment smelling like roast beef and other excuses. A few nods to my childhood. An abrupt meta-commentary on why I Simply Cannot Do This. And then a truly honest slide noting that I feel like a baby who can’t control her limbs, much less make sense of the world. Lacking in practice, lacking in discipline. Too much Nutella, not enough egg whites. That’s really how I feel, like the crazy world is washing over me and I am helpless to make sense of it. Not a good feeling for a control freak.
Anyway, I may be the first person to use PowerPoint as an entry point into the graphic novel. But I promise you, I won’t be the last.
And no, you can’t see it when I’m done. BECAUSE I’M A JUST A BABY.
“We need to cobble together what skating means to us. The same goes for bicycling, skiing, surfing, paddling, climbing, painting, pottery, design, and cartooning. We have to separate what we know about the things we love and what we have been told. Puritan versions of culture are the product of marketeers and lowest common denominators. Have a good time doing the worst drawing you ever did and a day without ollies.
It can do you good.”—Solitary Arts - ABOUT US
The story of an old man who receives a letter, reads it, composes a letter, in which he asks for a phone number, and plans to mail it back, while a reporter has time to interview him and file a story about it, and four commenters cheer him on. All without mentioning, “Hey, have you Googled her?” JAYSUS.
“The person making that cynical attempt, and subtly trying to pit “our neighborhoods” against those rich yuppies who are neither “working people” nor “middle class families,” and are probably not involved in “religious organizations” and surely have not been here for “five generations” is Mr. Heyer.”—Taking the Bull by the Horns | Room Eight