This comic is meant to pick up where we left off with the continuing saga of the rabbit’s budding porn addiction, so you might flip back a few comix and read some of the other stuff to get right into the stream of things, but that seems like it’s probably not necessary. The part of this particular comic that amuses me is mostly the third panel, where they seem to be watching something slightly unnatural get done to some boy, and you probably don’t need too much continuity to understand that. This isn’t One Moment in Time here, the benefit of that being that hopefully my comic makes a little bit of sense.
New comic planned for Wednesday, and I’m probably gonna blog or post some sketches and stuff in between, so check back! Yep.
It seems that the more graphic the implications of a particular comic are, the more adorable my drawing becomes. I think Prester’s little bear butt in that second panel is really adorable. Anyway, for those of you who want more insight into what’s going on here you can go back through the archives and start reading with the Swine Flu storyline, if you haven’t already.
I kinda like the way that 2010 kicked my ass.
The year was lead off by a pair of relationships with guys that were just either big mistakes or manifestations of some sort of masochistic pathology of which I’m not aware. Somehow with the first one I was able to convince myself that there was some sort of connection that would enable us to have a mature friendship even after his decisions regarding taking himself off his meds to see what his personality “really was like” derailed things enough that I knew we couldn’t really have any sort of lasting relationship. I decided to move in with him for a while, ostensibly to save money so that I could find a better apartment to live in, and somehow disregarded the fact that he was in some elaborate way hoping that us living together would rekindle the demolished scrapheap that was left of the brief few months when we got along in a boyfriends sorta way. Simultaneous to him somehow hoping that the magic would start by us being up in one another’s faces all the time when we were already having a difficult time getting along was the fact that he couldn’t really handle anybody in his life, much less his living space, for any kind of extended period of time before little alarm bells would start to sound, echoing down the corridors of the weird little alternate reality that existed in his head and guided to shrill crescendos and panic attacks by whatever sort of undiagnosed borderline personality disorder that he held onto as an excuse and nursed like a sparrow whose wing had been broken so that his sense of altruistic martyrdom could be boosted as he fed it from a bottle. Needless to say, he didn’t react well when I was living with him and going out to see the second one of these boyfriend mishaps.
So, I had to find someplace in which to live on very short notice, which led to a tumultuous middle of the year, which was the backdrop for the fits and starts of the sad little attempt at connection that ended up being my relationship with the boy from Santa Cruz, which is getting chronicled in these comics. Then my Grandma died.
I had a grandparent die before, but it was a grandfather to whom I wasn’t attached. The grandma that died last year was, consistently throughout my childhood, probably my favorite relative. I was probably her favorite grandchild, too, and the oldest, and she showed it pretty shamelessly sometimes, but she was also obsessively devoted to all of her grandchildren. I was living with her and my dad a few years ago when she had a series of strokes at the way-too-young age of 60, and ended up in a nursing home. She was partially immobile on one side, couldn’t walk, had trouble eating, and the health problems piled up on one another just in a fucked up cruel way until there wasn’t much to do about getting better. I saw her a decent amount when she was in a nursing home down in Southern California and I hadn’t yet moved to where I am now, but then she was moved to Colorado, because a lot of her side of the family is out there, a year or two before I moved up here.
I didn’t see her for a few years when she was up there and carried a lot of guilt about it, but it never was very feasible and those are the types of things that get delayed. And anyway, what else is there to do in Colorado, anyway? When I went there last year, I moved the location on my OKCupid profile to see if I could meet anybody with whom I could kill some time, and man, checking out gay dudes on a Pueblo Colorado-based OKCupid account is, well, probably something that could fill a blog of its own. But I did go out there last year, because my Dad was able to buy me a plane ticket. When I showed up, my Grandma was in one of her many downward spirals, and it was of course pretty depressing to be in a nursing home at all. There was a woman who spent most of the time in a wheelchair near the outside of my Grandma’s room asking most people who passed whether they had come for her. Whether she was wondering if you were family on a visit, a nurse with medication, or who knows what else was unclear, she just wanted to know if anybody was there for her.
Which wasn’t anything too strange to see in a nursing home, of course, and I’ve seen enough nursing homes to realize that. When I was little, my Grandma actually worked as a nurse in one, and I still have a vivid memory of her coming home from work worn out one day and telling me that when she was old, whatever happened, she didn’t ever want to be in one of those places. The place where she was staying in Colorado actually wasn’t a bad nursing home, there was lots of staff and they seemed attentive and respectful, the rooms and halls were clean and didn’t smell too much like putrefaction (More like putrefaction masked with Lysol), and there were some things for the residents to do, paint, whatever. Lots of TVs. So it was a nursing home that was actually doing about as well as such a place can do, and yet you still have the old woman sitting in the hallways asking if you’re there for her, and dozens of others who are actually much worse off. There’s something about the collision between pragmatism and insanity that’s more disturbing than failure and resignation, in the case of which there’s a clear problem presented with possible solutions.
I spent a lot of time sitting with my Grandma. I was, afterall, in Pueblo Colorado, so I’m not gonna pass myself off as heroic for doing that since the other alternatives to spend time on were Walmart, Target, and some Starbucks. Then my Grandma was hospitalized for the god-knows-how-many-th time, and I spent a lot of time sitting near her bed in the hospital. Her health continued to worsen, and she had difficulty feeding herself and her awareness of what was happening to her seemed to get continually more limited. She could barely pick things up, definitely couldn’t turn herself over, but when I first arrived she had hugged me so hard that I was surprised, and when it was my last night in Colorado before I had to catch a morning plane back to San Francisco and I said goodbye to her, she hugged me so hard that I could barely get out of her arms. I felt in my stomach that I knew what she was saying.
When I got back to San Francisco, a few days afterward my Dad called to say she had died. Her misery in the place where she had been staying was so obvious to me that the guilt I felt was that maybe she had been hanging on for the last several years so that she could say goodbye to me before it happened. Which is profoundly egocentric, of course, but still. Somehow all of that gave me an odd mood, made me preoccupied with memories of my childhood, and combined with the fact that, on returning, I was staying with friends until I finally found another apartment and I now had to do it even more quickly than in my other bizarre living situation changes, I didn’t quite know what to make of the state my life was in. I found an apartment I liked, though, and managed to move in, and, for a brief moment, things were looking really good.
Then I got hit by a car. I was walking across a crosswalk in broad daylight at around 9 in the morning, a few blocks from the apartment to which I had just moved, and I woke up in an ambulance and also in all sorts of restraints and braces. I guess it was apparently a hit and run, nobody came forward to say that they had seen the accident, and I was seen having a seizure in the middle of the street by a bus driver. I was in and out of consciousness for most of the day, leaving me with dramatic flashes of memory of things like them cutting my clothing off of me, or being moved from one gurney to another and seeing how my previous pillow had practically been soaked through with blood from my head, or waking up in a hallway somewhere and immediately having to grab the first nurse that passed and asking her for something in which to vomit, which she got me just barely fast enough so that everything I had eaten that morning didn’t get all over the floor. Looking back, to be honest, that all seems kinda cool and fascinating. I had an adorably cute doctor who didn’t look over 27 and seemed extremely kind. I went back and forth on hoping that he had been there when they cut off my clothes, or hoping that he hadn’t because I’m sure I probably wasn’t looking my best. Then again, maybe he’s into neck braces and blood-covered foreheads. Maybe that’s why he became a doctor, right? I can hope, anyway. He was awfully cute.
So, it turned out that I had some pretty severe head trauma and a couple hemorrhages going on in places around my brain that usually aren’t supposed to be saturated with blood, or so medical science tells us. What overcame me, though, was astonished relief that no other damage had been done. I was having a really hard time focusing, and for the first couple of days it was hard to stand up without the whole room spinning and me reaching for something to hold onto. None of it was very dignified, but with it came a clarity as I realized that what I was really afraid of was that something would be wrong with my hands or arms. I realized, in the hospital, that my greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to draw. I guess maybe sometimes it takes you being run over by a car to realize that some of the things you get so worked up over in life aren’t really worth the amount of anxiety that you spend on them, and to somehow focus you. Or maybe I’m one of the few that needs to be hit by a car to slow down their whining, but I’m hoping that that’s endearing or something. I went to a post-trauma therapist who was very curious to know if I was having any nightmares about the accident, or if I was having anxiety, depression, or thoughts of revenge. He seemed slightly confused when I told him the whole thing had put me in a better mood, but he also seemed to understand what I was getting at.
A year or two ago I called my Grandma in Colorado and talked to her for a little while about how things were going. I didn’t call her all that often, because to be honest it was really difficult to speak to her on the phone. She had trouble speaking due to all the billions of medical complications, and it just wasn’t very easy to communicate over the phone. I think the conversation I’m remembering might be the first one I had had with her after moving to San Francisco, and she asked what I was doing up here. I told her I was trying to be an artist, and that I was doing comics. When I said that, on the other end of the line she started to cry, and said, “That’s what you always wanted to do.”
I guess it might be. I wasn’t sure of it until later, and I guess somehow she seemed to know that about me before I did. I went on a detour toward the end of High School and into my early twenties where I decided that I wanted to write more than draw, and I worked on a novel and some stuff like that. I still like writing prose, but for some reason I struggled with that fucking novel. Around five years ago, for some reason, I started drawing this little rabbit, and I originally drew him crouched down on his haunches. I knew that there was some part of me that still wanted to draw, and I thought that this little bunny, crouched down, could be a kind of logo or symbol for my work, like early Keith Haring graffiti babies. Quickly, though, for reasons all his own, the rabbit started to stand up, and I started putting word balloons next to his head, and as he started to develop an attitude and sass and often say the things that I wanted to say, I realized that the rabbit was just me.
When I was young, I always had a bit of an obsession with comics that I think probably started with newspaper strips and then, around the age of ten or so, migrated to Superheroes. I liked Superheroes, I think, because I originally wasn’t allowed to read them. My Mom used to be really protective about the things that I did and didn’t see, and she originally decided that Superheroes were too violent. When we were house hunting one day, I think it was 1991, trying to move from Garden Grove to Riverside, we stopped at a drug store and my Mom told me I could pick out a magazine for being well behaved. I wanted a comic, and I got Archie. Somehow, though, Archie wasn’t scratching whatever itch it was that I had. I nagged her until a couple of days later, also in a drug store, she relented and let me get a comic that wasn’t Archie. I settled on Fantastic Four, because that month they were having a 30th anniversary issue, and that comic was the biggest. It was number 358, with the die-cut cover, all 90′s comics style, and it still makes me smile to look at it.
That led to a total obsession, first with Fantastic Four, and then with Spider-man, and so on, and really I was just excited to get my hands on anything that was a comic. Couldn’t really explain why, but there’s something about you at that age that’s just malleable, and the right little bit of the world sears itself in your brain. My Grandma used to take me to the comic book store on a lot of Wednesdays, because it seemed really important to me what was going to happen next with the various Spider-man clones that were running around, or to sometimes get an issue of X-Men and try to work out just what the hell was going on with the huge Soap Opera cast of characters. The difficulty of actually finding a cohesive narrative in any of these things that accomplished any purpose other than appealing to the continuity fetish of men who were now in their 30′s or 40′s but still reading things that were, at that time, very comfortably written on a level easily readable by my 10 year old brain, that should have alerted me that there was something not quite fresh about all this Superhero business. Looking back, what really excited me was the form of comics itself. I just didn’t have access to too many other types of comic book stories. Just pictures and words, adventures, you could do almost anything on that page.
When it was announced that Superman was gonna die, I knew this was the big time. I was so excited to read the story, even though I didn’t really read Superman, that I was furious that Mom wouldn’t let me skip school that Wednesday to go nab all that polybagged glory. To anybody who was reading that last paragraph and protesting to themselves about how much Superhero comics have changed, I clear my throat subtly because it hasn’t escaped me and it shouldn’t escape you that today is in fact the day on which there’s a polybagged issue of the Fantastic Three being released. Will it have a die-cut cover with a hologram? Well, gee whiz, better run out and spend the $5.99 or whatever the hell they’re charging for a single spandex fetish magazine these days and find out. When Superman died, though, I was about 11, so this was a big deal. Since I wasn’t able to skip school to get it and was absolutely panic stricken that it would be all sold out forever by the time that I got out of school- I was an 11 year old, not an economist- my Grandma actually went and waited in line at the comic shop I liked to get me one. Now, that’s a cool Grandma.
When I finally realized that Superman actually was gonna come back from the dead, something in my young mind was shaken. I’m not sure I had any revelations as such about the permanence of death, but something about the cheapness of killing a character for publicity and then just bringing him back when sales petered out again made me have some vague pre-adolescent concept of the cheapness of certain things. It made me realize, I think, that not everything that went around telling you it was great was. I think, in some roundabout way, that has something to do with what 2010 did to me. Sometimes, we attach a lot of importance to things because of their immediate effect on us, but really, based now on personal experience, maybe getting a convenient, non-fatal hit by a car situation might be one solution for that.
The first inklings of Truckstop’s disturbing(ly sexy?) origin! More soon. I’m trying to stay as close as possible to my planned update schedule, and there actually is something like a plan for these comix now, so stick with it.
This establishes what will become the rhythm of the relationship between Rickets and Prester, with them having wild nights and then Prester pretending he doesn’t know what Rickets is talking about. The next few comics in this sequence are actually ones that I’ve already posted in some form on the website in the last year or so, but so that they’ll be presented in the correct reading order I’m going to post them again after this one, so since they’re comics that have already kind of been seen, I’m going to do daily posts for the next few days until the storyline gets to comics that haven’t been on the website before. So, check back daily to see what’s going on over the next few days :)
This is one of those comics that I wish wasn’t at all autobiographical, but we’ve all had those nights. I’m not the first person to observe and wonder about the fact that alcohol increases sex drive but also ruins sex performance. What’s that all about? This is why people should be doing more hard drugs instead, obviously.
In other news, I’m working on character portraits and coloring a lot of things for a character guide on this website and other purposes. I’ve also started doing designs for t-shirts and things like that, and I’m gonna be posting a lot of this additional art through the Facebook page for my comics, and also on the Tumblr page for my comics as I go. I’m also gonna start blogging more, so if you want my random thoughts on whatever art’s engaging me and whatever I’m working on, or whatever else I feel is kinda sorta slightly worth blogging about, check that Tumblr out. In the meantime, I’m gonna keep posting things from the Rickets and Prester storyline in order without posting a lot of that other stuff in between, so that it’s more readable on this website. I’m also gonna be rearranging a lot of things on here, so that the storylines read in a better order and things make more sense, so if links to certain pages don’t work anymore, that’s why. So, if you’re enjoying the comics and the characters stick around, because hopefully the bigger scope of their world is coming into focus more on here, and there will be a lot of interesting things to look through.