Tag Archives: illustration

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” by Phoebe Gloeckner

This book is kind of a downer, but at the same time, it made me feel grateful. It’s the tale of a 15-year-old girl who becomes sexually involved with her mother’s boyfriend, which causes a downward spiral of addiction, mental illness, and self-loathing. As a parent, I am so very grateful that none of my daughters got this messed up.

What I really liked about this book is the way the author mixed mediums. While it is written in the form of a diary, it reads like a novel. In addition, the author included her own drawings, snippets of graphic novel style panel illustrations, and letters written by the characters. So it felt like a blend of novel, diary, graphic novel, and epistolary. For me, that is the book’s strongest asset.

As a regular journal writer, I connected with a scene where Minnie (the protagonist) ponders whether her journal writing is an act of creative expression.

Let’s take a little time out and be completely serious for a moment—my writing in this book has become a sort of habit, and a good one. I do think my writing has improved because of it. Would you or would you not consider this journal a creative endeavor?

(p. 65)

Personally, I consider any act of self-expression to be a creative endeavor. Journal writing, especially if one is exploring the deeper parts of the self, is definitely a creative act. Additionally, any practice that one gets writing hones the skill of crafting the written word.

One of the effects of addiction on a person is a deep feeling of isolation. Throughout the book, Gloeckner captures that feeling in beautifully sad words.

I left feeling like the center of the ocean, deep and quiet. Glowing particles of dust or old dead fish atoms slowly filter down from the top through the water. The sun gradually leaves them. They settle down later at the bottom, seven miles below. Dark. Heavy, heavy water.

(p. 107)

As much as this book is disturbing, it does end on a more optimistic note. Without giving away too much, Minnie ends her diary by deciding to start a new one, which reflects the start of a new chapter in her life.

This diary is almost full. The binder rings can barely hold another few pages but I didn’t get a new diary binder yet. Maybe I’ll go downtown to Patrick’s…they probably have a nice serious-looking black binder with heavy-duty rings that won’t burst open. That’s what I want. I want to get a good one.

I haven’t been writing at all because I’ve been waiting to start a new diary. A brand-new diary is like a brand-new life, and I’m ready to leave this one behind me. But since I don’t have a new binder, it’s just too bad: I’ll have to tack a few pages onto my old life.

(p. 285)

Our lives are stories that are being written every moment, and at the risk of sounding cliché, we can change the story or turn the page any time we want. That is the beauty of life and one of the things that gave me hope in my personal dark periods.

Thanks for stopping by, and have an inspired day.

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Monstress: Issue #10

I really love the artwork in this graphic series. Sana Takeda is an amazing artist. These illustrations vibrate with beauty and intensity.

In this issue, Maika and her companions visit the Isle of Bones, a place of mystery which may hold secrets to her past. But the remnants of the divine being that dwells within her points out that it is not actually an island, but the remains of a fallen god.

… That is no island… it is a god… fallen where it stood… in holy battle… these waters… are thick… with the putrescence… of its demise…

The symbolism here fascinated me. I see the water as a symbol for our collective consciousness. I could not help but wonder how much the mythology of fallen gods has permeated our global consciousness. We are, after all, the sum of our collective experiences, passed down through story and myth. This begs the question: What new god will be born out of the putrescence of our dead and decomposed gods?

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“A.D. After Death: Book Two” by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire

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This is the second book in the trilogy and it is just as deep and thought provoking as the first installment. Instead of summarizing the complex storyline, I figured I would share a couple passages that I found to be especially interesting.

“Old age is being aware of yourself, your fragility; it’s being scared, and humanity is in its old age now, is my belief. We are a frail old man, aware of our brittleness. All it’ll take is a push. A fall and a broken hip. A plague. A bomb. A cataclysm. And we will start to fall apart, fast, just like your mother did.”

At the mention of my mother, I feel my rage rising, but he stops me before I say anything.

“But it doesn’t have to be that way, Jonah,” he says. “Millions of years of history could change right here, on this porch. With you and me.”

I have been thinking a lot about the current state of humanity, and this passage I think really sums it up perfectly. Our civilization is old, and it feels like it is dying, and I know that makes people scared. This would explain all the insanity that is bubbling up in our world. But this passage also offers us hope. If we accept that our old world is finished, we can make the decision to begin the process of giving birth to the next phase of humanity. Humanity, like everything else, goes through cycles. We are near the end of the current cycle. So we now have a choice: pave the way for the new cycle, or allow ourselves to be extinguished along with the old.

This segues nicely into the other quote I wanted to share.

Imagine it, getting to live over and over, remembering what you choose to remember, shedding everything else; all the time in the world to overcome your fears, to learn all you want to learn, to love over and over, to cycle and cycle through until you’re truly satisfied and proud and … finished?

The cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth for an individual human is also representative of the same cycle on a macro-human level. Humanity goes through the same cycles as individual persons.

I genuinely feel that we are on the threshold of what future generations will consider one of the most interesting and pivotal points in the evolution of the human species. As difficult as it is to live in these times, I am excited to be here and participate in the changes that are under way.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share in my musings. And remember: “Millions of years of history could change right here, on this porch. With you and me.”

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“A.D. After Death: Book One” by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire

afterdeath_01

I am not sure whether I should categorize this as a serialized novel with heavy illustration, or as a graphic novel that is text intensive. Regardless, it is an impressive creation. The writing is brilliant and evocative, and the artwork sadly beautiful. I was truly moved after reading this first installment.

From what I gather so far, this is a story about a world after some virus or disease wipes out most of the life on the planet. The protagonist, Jonah Cooke, takes a job in a monitoring a station in a safe zone that listens for sounds of life. While this may sound like just another post-apocalyptic story, there is so much more depth to this than most works that fall into the genre.

Much of the text is comprised of memories from Jonah’s childhood where he relives the trauma of his mother’s death. As anyone who has lost a loved one can attest, this type of trauma runs deep and colors all aspects of your life. The metaphor of a frozen lake is used to describe the effects of the trauma; the sense that below the smooth surface of the ice is a cold, dark, watery place just waiting for a crack to appear and draw you down into the depths of utter despair.

Will it ever go away, you wonder? Or will it always be there, that shadow at the edge of things? But, even at a young age, you know the answer to that question, don’t you? You know it: of course not. Because it’s just there, so close to the surface.

It’s three at school, in the sickening way the cellophane peels off your sandwich.

Or there, in a shattered vein on your teacher’s calf.

Or there, in the scuffed nose of your action figure.

And there, in the weakening grip of the magnets on the board. In the erasures on your homework. In pens running out. In new sneakers that squeak so loudly, but go silent by end of day. In the small tear in the backseat of the bus, the wisp of stuffing you can’t push back in all the way. In the parade of blinking turn signals on the cars lined up at the red light by your house, on and off, on and off, ticking in some pattern that means nothing at all. And as the day ends, you feel it deepening, that shadow, becoming material. The blackness pooling below your nightlight. The deepest dark of that hallway that separates your room from your parents’.

All of it speaks to that same fucking water beneath the crust of things, moving and shifting and waiting, and you wonder, DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL LIKE THIS?!

Are you alone?

Are you just messed up? Were you born missing something, some protective layer, some membrane that’s supposed to shield you from the sight of it–that water, right here, inches below.

The feelings conveyed here are so powerful and visceral, and I personally relate to them. I have lost people close to me and remember that feeling of impending doom, of apprehensively anticipating the ground to give out below at any moment. It takes a long time to heal from this type of trauma, and some people never do, which is what makes this such an intense work of art.

Book Two is already available. I will be getting it and sharing my thoughts on it soon. Thanks for stopping by, and keep reading challenging stuff.

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Rockstars: Issue #01

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When I first heard about this new graphic series, I was immediately intrigued. A series about rock and roll excess, occult, and urban legend drawing inspiration from bands in the 1970’s seemed right up my alley. I added it to my pull list at my local comic store and patiently waited. This week, I finally got the first issue and it is everything I expected.

The tale is basically about two young people—a rock conspiracy theorist and a music journalist—who meet while looking into the mysterious deaths of young women, which they believe to be connected to black magic rites orchestrated by a mysterious rock guitarist.  The opening lines sucked me right in to the story.

Rock ‘n’ roll has always had its secrets. From backwards messages on classic albums, woven references to drugs and madness, or homages to fallen legends and lost friends. Hidden declarations of sympathy for the devil are as stock and trade as anthem calls to both the faithful and the damned.

Author Joe Harris credits the book Hammer of the Gods as an inspiration. I remember reading this book in my younger days and the glimpse it provided into the dark and mysterious world of rock and roll. I would never listen to a Led Zeppelin song the same way afterwards.

Already, this series makes references to some of the great rock myths: the infamous mudshark, the synching of “Dark Side of the Moon” to “The Wizard of Oz,” Jimmy Page’s obsession with all things Crowley, just to name a few. If you were a rock music fan in the late 70’s and early 80’s, you will undoubtedly catch and appreciate these references and how they are masterfully strung together with artwork that evokes the essence of that era.

I highly recommend this and eagerly await the next installment.

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Monstress: Issue #08

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It’s been a little while since my last post on this arc. I’ve been reading it consistently and really enjoying the artwork and storyline, but there has not been anything that I felt warranted writing a post until now. There are a couple of passages in this issue that I found interesting.

“The sea teaches there are consequences to everything. Everything, you hear? Ripples become waves that can ravage even the safest harbor.”

I love this quote! On one level, it draws on the butterfly effect using the metaphor of the ocean. But the sea is also a symbol of the subconscious, and this is what is most intriguing. The smallest thought, the wisp of an idea, can swell and grow in the mind and become something massive and powerful. This can go either way. A small spark of inspiration can gather into a life-changing decision or a masterpiece in creative expression. But then again, a single thought or offhand comment can fester and grow into something monstrous and destructive.

Here’s the other quote that stood out for me:

“Living isn’t supposed to be easy. If it was easy it wouldn’t be called life. So say the poets. Also, the Goddess tells us how we’re reborn reflects how we live in this life…”

This is so true. Life is never easy. We may think others “have it easy,” but we are only seeing the external and not what is truly going on inside that other person. We all struggle and have our difficulties, but in a way, that’s what makes life interesting. The difficulties also make us appreciate the good times more fully. Finally, I believe in metempsychosis, or the transmigration of the soul, and I believe that we were born to experience certain things in our current lives. Those lessons we must learn directly impact the lives we are born into. I know I am here for a reason, and while I don’t know what that reason is, I know everything I have gone through and everything I will go through is part of that spiritual learning process.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!

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The X-Files: Annual 2016 – “Illegal Aliens”

XFiles_Annual2016

Once a year, IDW publishes an annual special edition X-Files graphic novel, which is a little longer, a little better quality, and double the price. This year’s is a little on the silly side, set in New Mexico and playing off the pun between undocumented immigrants and visitors from outer space. There is nothing groundbreaking in this book, and nothing deeply thought-provoking; it’s just a whimsical story, fairly well written and illustrated, that is kind of fun to read, but that’s about it.

The illegal alien pun is kind of cliché for me, so honestly, I found that the least interesting. The thing that I found the most entertaining was Mulder’s observations on pro-gun conspiracy nuts.

Mulder: I’ll make it. I was doing some research. Have you heard of the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories?

Scully: Half-baked government haters who thing the government wants to take their guns?

Mulder: Right, emphasis on half-baked. But there’s something about it that bothered me. When we put on a tinfoil hat because we think the government is trying to invade our brain, we’re assuming a certain level of sophistication, right? We believe we’ve progressed as a civilization to where the next great existential danger will come from threats beyond our conception.

Scully: Are you arguing on message boards again?

Mulder: Yes, but hear me out, Scully. These people, they think, they really think, the government is going to use a coordinated training exercise in the southwestern United States as cover to take away everyone’s guns. Logistical concerns aside—when did our conspiracies become so lazy? Have we fallen so far that the grand plan to enslave the human race is eliminating the threat of small-arms fire?

I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I read this, especially considering all the social media chatter about how “if Clinton gets elected she is going to take away all our guns.” It’s the same thing you hear about every Democratic candidate. It’s never happened, and yet the fear and myth persists.

Anyway, if you are an X-Fan, you’ll probably get a kick out of this book; if not, you will see it as nothing more than a waste of $8, which could have been better spent on a latte and a defrosted piece of coffee cake from Starbucks.

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