Just figured maybe I should post and explain why I’ve not been posting for the last couple of weeks.
I talk a lot in the blogs attached to these comics about the bigger picture and the long-term plan of the comics, and some of that finally became visible in the comics in the book I had published last year- which, by the way, you can purchase at this link – and, as I embark on the next big phase of the comics, I’ve been considering a lot of things about format and how they’ll eventually be collected, and also a lot of things about my characters. I’ve been writing and planning a lot, but not drawing much.
I’ve also kind of been questioning what it is that I’m doing with these comics, and what my long-term goals with them are, to be honest. I’m not thinking about quitting with the comics at all, but I am thinking about the best ways to present them and how they’ll best actually connect with an audience. It’s easy to throw out a lot of long-term plans in my notebooks for what I’m going to do with the characters, but when I actually come to put them together, I have to think of ways that all these different ideas can be formed into a more coherent whole, specifically, the question of formatting them into chunks of story and things that will be entertaining and make some sort of sense to people who aren’t thinking about the things I’m thinking of having Rickets do five years from now or whatever.
These kind of started off in the format of newspaper strips, but the chunks of story I’m doing are getting much longer than that, and to be honest I’m still wrangling with how exactly to find the mid-point between serialized strips where each installment is interesting, but also getting much more focused on the characters rather than just jokes or observations.
I’m also getting less interested in doing strictly autobiographical stories. I say “strictly” because of course everything I write is autobiographical, but not all of it in a literal way. Rickets’s story, for example, is almost all me, but told in a fantasy kind of way that makes it less literal. As a reader, too, I’m getting less interested in that subset of comics that is kind of just slice-of-life stuff. The Harvey Pekar kind of stuff, a comic about me going to the grocery store or whatever. That’s great and all, and Pekar specifically I think broke new ground in the comics medium, but now, like groundbreaking things often do, it’s been repeated to the point where it’s almost a cliche, and there’s this whole world of comics that are just kind of observational moments about everyday life, and it’s the opposite of groundbreaking. I like a lot of those comics, and a lot of them are actually brilliant, just as far as my own writing is going it’s seeming less and less like that’s kind of the bold horizon that I’d like to set out to.
Writing this last piece of story, specifically, has really set me thinking in a lot of ways about what it is that I want to do with my comics. This story is about me being obsessed with time, and finding meaning in life by being an artist, and it’s about me resenting spending any part of my life on doing things that I don’t really think are worth the time they take. Looking at just how long it would realistically take to draw all the vast storylines I outline in my notebooks and whatnot, it’s made me really want to prioritize and plan. The whole idea of being obsessed with doing something that could actually be a waste of time is central to my comics and, of course, this story is meant to be playing with that. The idea is that anything could be a waste of time, really, if we’re all gonna die anyway, but the continuing thing I’m trying to ask with my characters is how do we make the decisions about what we do and don’t spend our time on.
That’s one of the big main themes for me, anyway. The comics also have jokes about boy cunts.
So, basically I’ve just been on a little spirit quest trying to think in the long term about what these comics need to be, and plan out the storylines in much more detail that I usually do. Normally, I have the broad strokes planned and then fill in the details as I go, but now I’m conceptualizing a little more.
I suppose I probably should have posted something like this a week ago saying, “On a spirit quest, BRB,” but when I decided I could miss a couple days of posting to write and think over what I was going to be doing, I didn’t actually anticipate not posting for this long. Another factor in it, to be perfectly honest, has been me being a bit frustrated about these comics not being a little more well-known than they are now, and me questioning how I would be able to connect to a bigger audience. On the comics side of it, I have a pretty good amount of confidence in my abilities. When it comes to the marketing and monetization side of that, I think I’m probably much less competent. So, part of me not posting was probably also me being a little passive aggressive and seeing how many people actually noticed that there weren’t any new comics. Turns out, the internet doesn’t break when I don’t post new comics, but part of that might be that, if you’ve been reading my work for a while, you’ve probably already noticed that from time to time I duck out and stop posting for a bit, and then come back in a few weeks. I’ve probably trained my readers to expect me to be unreliable.
One other thing I’ve been working on is reorganizing the archives on this website. I moved the character guide pages to the beginning, for example, so that when people start reading the strips fresh those will be there for them to see and get a grasp on things a little bit better, hopefully. As I was going before, I was just kind of throwing up strips as I did them, and that seemed OK, but now there are a lot more strips on this website, so it seemed like a good idea to rearrange things so that they would be in a more enjoyable reading order. If you see links and things go dead, that might be part of why, so don’t worry, I’m not taking things down, just moving them.
Actually, that’s not strictly true, I took down a few older things that I didn’t like and that made me wince when I looked at them. I feel that way about a lot of the older comics, actually, but I’ve been convinced by people to leave most of them up, since I’m told some of them are funny. The ones I took down I just really felt didn’t work, or don’t fit in the world of the comics anymore, and I’d be pretty surprised if anybody actually notices which ones are missing.
So, that’s a bit of an explanation of where my head’s been at during these last couple of weeks. Like I said, I haven’t stopped working on the comics at all, I’ve just been writing a lot more than drawing. Probably by next week I’ll be posting new comics again, so check back, there will be lots of awesome stuff coming up.
Oh, and if you want to encourage me to keep going and pump my fragile artist’s ego, check out the book . It really is kind of good, I’m proud of it and there’s a ton of good material in there for a reasonable price. I think it has pretty much everything you need to get up to date to the current storyline that I’m working on, and it came out really beautifully. So, go dig all the awesome!
Alright, here’s the comic that I meant to post yesterday. I mostly finished it late last night, but I didn’t scan it and everything until this morning. The problem was that this comic took about fifty billion times as long as I expected it to.
I like the way I’m drawing these, though, and I want to keep doing them detailed and large. It’s just that that can be a lot of work. I would scale back to only do two updates a week, but I also want to get this story up in some kind of decent timeframe.
I’m starting to figure out how long all of these things I’m planning are going to take, and I’d like to have the stories up here sometime this century, so I’m going for three times a week here in an effort to get stuff out reasonably.
What I’m calling Damaged Goods is going to be about five “chapters” or chunks of the storylines I’m planning with my characters. So, this first one, The Children of Marx and Lady Gaga is going to have this first storyline, Morbid Obsession, showing the rabbit’s interest in time, and then it’s going to reintroduce Capitalist Pig, and start to show what happens with Rickets and Prester when Rickets runs out of money to buy coke. That conflict is gonna provide some drama with Capitalist Pig, and lead into the next chapter. It’s gonna be around 50 strips all together.
The next chapter, Staving, Hysterical (But Fully Clothed), starts out with Rickets and Prester on a road trip, and I don’t want to give too much away about where it goes from there, but it’s all gonna get pretty epic, so that one’s gonna be around 50 pages, too.
The third chapter, Limited Time Offer, is gonna be the origin story of Prester. After I’ve gone much farther with his relationship with Rickets, it seems like it’s time for me to go back and finally reveal more about the character’s history. Also, it’s a nice structural symmetry to my first book from last year, which had two chapters, then a flashback chapter to the origin story of Rickets, Marching to “The City”, and then two more chapters. Limited Time Offer will be around the same length as Marching to “The City”, so that’s another 30 pages or so.
Then there will be the chapter Damaged Goods, which will continue the storyline of the first two chapters, and also be where I start doing relationship comics again. There’s a lot to address in the love lives of the characters, so I figure this one will be around 50 pages, too.
Then the last chapter, I don’t want to reveal the title of it or too much about it yet, but this is something I’ve wanted to write for a long time, and it should tie up some of the things from the previous chapters nicely. Another 30 pages or so.
So, that’s around 200 pages.
Then there’s the book I’m doing about the lives of porn actors. I’ve scripted a lot of that already, and that’ll be around 200 pages, too.
And then there are side illustration projects and Douchebags of Comics, which will be at least 50 or so illustrations to do. So, that’s a total of around 450 pieces I need to do to complete those three projects. At a rate of around three pieces a week, that’s about three years worth of work. I want to do the porn actor project soon, so I’m thinking of alternating between posting chapters of that and chapters of Damaged Goods, but Damaged Goods is just five storylines for my characters, and I know things that are going to happen to them way, way beyond what happens in Damaged Goods. There are things I’ve already done to set up the introduction of a new character who probably won’t fit into the storylines of those five chapters, so the thought of not even being able to introduce her for another three years is pretty frustrating.
So, we’ll see how I end up juggling all this. But, that’s why I want to stick to trying to do at least three pieces a week. If that means that sometimes the pieces aren’t posted exactly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’m sorry for that in advance. There’s one more piece following this one that I want to post that will be kind of a triptych with the last two, and I think that will bring Morbid Obsession to the point where it can pause for a second, and then I’m going to post some drawings for Douchebags of Comics next week, because I don’t want to lose momentum on that, either. The portraits for that take a lot less time to draw than something like this comic I’m posting today, so I’m hoping that will let me get ahead on the next portion of Morbid Obsession, which I’ll begin posting the following week.
“Good lord, this guys’s stuff is awful. Sixth form R. Crumb only it’s about furries or something”-My comics, according to a poster on the Chuck Dixon “Dixonverse” messageboards.
A couple weeks ago I got into an extended conversation on those Dixonverse messageboards with members of Chuck Dixon’s following stemming from the fact that I included him on the list of people of whom I plan to make Douchebags of Comics cards. I’m not sure whether it was a mistake or not to even reply so much, but I figure that it’s good to engage people and answer questions and it usually defuses situations. You can read the thread here . On the other hand, though, I think it might be better to some extent to let the art speak for itself, and most people who have been amused by what I’ve done so far with the whole Douchebags of Comics thing have got what I mean when I use the word “douchebag,” and I wasn’t going to make any converts by going to a messageboard for one of the people I planned to make a card of and talking to its members.
They started the thread, though, and so I figured I should at least reply to show I was willing to be engaged. Before I showed up, the tone of the thread was mostly like the comment I posted above. I asked the guy who said that if I could use it as a pull quote on my next book, and he said sure. When I showed up, though, the tone of the thread immediately turned from trashing me and my work to saying that, gee, I was a cool guy for coming, they hoped I would stay, and if I would just listen they could explain to me how wrong I was about Chuck.
“I’ve looked at your website, and it’s clear to me that you’re not without talent. You’re a good artist, and you have some wit. Would I be correct in assuming that you’d like to make your living at this? Because if so, I urge to drop this Douchebags of Comics thing, in it’s entirety,” -from the same guy who, on the first page, had made the comment I quoted above.
I guess he hadn’t actually read my comics when he made the earlier post. Or maybe I became more talented in between the two posts. Funny because they were also criticizing me for sounding off on something before informing myself while criticizing my comics without having read them. Another of the posters also told me in a private message that they hadn’t actually read my comics before commenting on my lack of ability.
It was also a bit funny that, as they told me they thought the cards were a bad idea, they also rattled off the names of people they thought deserved cards more than Chuck. Basically, “The cards are a bad idea, although we can name several people who deserve them…”
I said I was more than willing to listen about Chuck if they could tell me something I didn’t know. They kept insisting for pages after I had already said that I’ve read a lot of Chuck Dixon’s work that, if I would just read Chuck Dixon’s work I would know that his politics hadn’t affected his work. It’s strange, because I’ve had people make the exact *opposite* argument over including people like Grant Morrison in my series of cards. They’ve said, Grant Morrison is a douchebag for such and such that he said, or did at a convention, or whatever, and I’ve said, maybe personally he can be a big douchebag, but when I think “douchebag” I don’t think Grant Morrison because I like his work. And I’ve said again and again, the cards aren’t only down to whether I like them or whether I like their work. It’s a mix.
Here’s the thing about this series of cards. I love provoking conversation with it, and I’m eager to hear what people have to say, but if I make a card of somebody, I’m the one making it, so that’s *me* calling them a douchebag, so it’s gonna come down to how I feel about them. There’s not a scientific set of criteria that constitutes a douchebag.
What I said about Chuck Dixon was that my main bone of contention came down to some things he’s said that I think are homophobic. Some people on the messageboard, before I said anything about political affiliation, turned that into an issue of “Liberals” attacking conservatism. Interesting how, without mentioning politics, if you mention bigotry people assume you’re attacking the right wing, isn’t it? Conservative people, are you comfortable that that’s what your party is synonymous with? I mean, I guess you must be if you vote that way, but that seems kind of depressing.
There are multiple things about Chuck Dixon that I’ve found douchebaggy from what I’ve read, but the main thing came down to quotes he’s made about gay people. The people on the messageboard, though, kept telling me that those quotes were taken out of context, and used as fodder by the “Liberal” people who are so close-minded and attack anybody who disagrees with them. OK, I said, explain to me how what I thought about Chuck Dixon was wrong. The main thing that ended up being discussed was this quote from Chuck:
“My suggestion was that superhero comics are, whether die-hard fans like it or not, ostensibly children’s comics and perhaps not the forum to be informing children of homosexuality, heterosexuality, or sexually transmitted diseases. I think I incensed some people by saying that I didn’t want my kids receiving their sex ed from Judd Winick in the pages of a superhero comic book. I still don’t.
“I’ve never backed away from my disdain for agenda-driven comics in what should be the medium’s primary escapist, mass appeal genre. Stand on your soap box all day long. But don’t stand on the shoulders of household-name icons. Write the characters in character and don’t write your world-view through them.”
Now, saying that you don’t want authors on liscened characters to use those characters as a platform for their personal views is one thing, although I see it as pretty stupid. I don’t understand the impetus to want artists to remove themselves from the art they create. I can’t think of anything more boring than art where the artist exists to do purely what the fans and the company he’s working for tell him to. But then again, that’s how most superhero comics are these days, and that’s probably a big part of why they’re so vapid and worthless.
But that’s a whole different discussion.
The problem I have is that I see that quote as him saying that gay people shouldn’t be included in entertainment that could be seen by children. Chuck Dixon himself showed up in the thread, and I asked him to tell me that *wasn’t* what he meant, but he didn’t. After pages discussing this, it seems to me that Chuck Dixon said exactly what I thought he said, it’s just that some people don’t consider that sentiment to be homophobic.
This is what I’d like somebody to explain to me:
How is it possibly *not* bigoted to say that an entire segment of the population should be hidden from the view of children?
What the argument comes back to is that, well gee, it’s a complicated issue, and parents shouldn’t be forced to explain it to their children until they’re ready to. The problem is that that’s an utterly fucking stupid thing to say. That’s what those few thousand moms who call themselves the Million Moms were saying about not having Keven Keller Archie comics being available in Toys R Us. It’s a complicated issue, we don’t want to be forced to discuss it with our children.
The problem is that there’s nothing complicated about it. Kid: “Mom, what’s ‘gay’?” Or, kid: “Mom, why are those two men living together?” Mom: “Sometimes two men love each other just like a man and a woman do.” Kid: “Oh. Alright.”
That’s how complicated it is. It’s *complicated* when the parents insist on bringing their bigotry to it. Instead of saying the simple sentence like above, the bigoted parent would like to say, “Well, sometimes two men love each other, but god hates them for it, even though god made gay people, and Mommy knows this because she personally knows the will of god even though I know you’re a child and you’re still old enough to smell bullshit when I say that, but obviously Mommy knows the will of god because she can quote some verse from Leviticus to justify herself, even though if she read the rest of Leviticus she’d realize it involves everything from slavery to animal sacrifice and Levitical law isn’t actually a part of Mommy’s religion except when Mommy feels like it, and really the religion itself doesn’t make any sense, either, but Mommy believes it whenever it suits her because it’s easier than her becoming educated and learning something about reality…”
Yeah, that *is* complicated, but if that’s the stupid-ass conversation you chose to have with your child, every gay person in the world should not have to hide themselves from view at all times so it’s as easy as possible for you to keep your children ignorant and worthless like you.
The other thing there is the idea that, having gay characters in something that children might read forces you to talk to your children about sex. That’s obviously not true. Having a straight couple hold hands or kiss in a story does not teach kids about sex. It teaches them about affection, which is a good thing. Saying that having gay characters in fiction forces you to talk with your child about sex is deliberately disingenuous and an attempt to divert the conversation away from what you actually don’t want to talk to your child about.
The bigger thing here is that, not only is having gay characters in stories children will see *not* harmful, having them in there can be so immensely beneficial. Ignorance about the simple facts of gay people existing is what leads to bullying and hatred related to it. Maybe even more importantly than that, having no characters like themselves to look to in stories leaves gay kids with the conclusion that they’re freaks, and that’s what leads to depression, suicide and all sorts of other horrible things.
So, that’s why, after everybody on the Dixonverse messageboards tried to explain to me that the comment isn’t a big deal, I still think it’s a pretty big deal.
Chuck Dixon himself, in the thread, said once we started talking about Orson Scott Card and I explained that I considered Orson Scott Card to be a completely different case than Chuck Dixon:
“I don’t know if Card is a homophobe because I’m not really sure what that term means and I don’t think anyone else does either. It’s like calling someone a heffalump. But Card has made homosexuality an issue for himself and, it seems, he continues to do so. For some reason none of this blownback on his career in any way I can see. I mean, there’s a major H’wwod movie based on one of his novels in pre-production. And he still gets published, right?
“All I did was comment on gay issues when they crossed over into the realm of superhero comics. I didn’t talk about “dark secrets” or spout smack about gay society or whatever. I simply questioned that some of these issues were not appropriate in mainstream superhero books. Especially the way they were being presented. In Green Lantern, gay-bashing was being exploited as a topic much like a Lifetime movie and just as predictable and by-the-numbers and written by a writer whose ONLY issue is homosexuality and AIDS. I also didn’t think that retroing the Rawhide Kid with a “ain’t sissies funny?” approach to be anything but insulting to everyone as well as the misuse of a once-popular character.”
The point being that, no, he hasn’t done anything horribly homophobic in his work, or even showed that he hates gay people.
I’d agree with him that the way a lot of gay stuff was being presented at the time he made his comments about it wasn’t great, and obviously nobody likes that Rawhide Kid story. But the confusion is over the idea that including gay characters somehow automatically involves politics or sex. There’s no reason it should have to. But no, I don’t think Chuck Dixon hates gay people, although I do think he’s perfectly capable of understanding what people say when they use the word “homophobe.” To dismiss it that way is an etymological debate, not a philosophical one, because you can argue about exactly what the word should mean, but when somebody calls somebody a homophobe you know what they’re saying.
So no, Chuck Dixon hasn’t given evidence that he hates gay people. He just thinks that kids shouldn’t see them. See the problem I’m having here?
There are different levels and different kinds of homophobia. There were a lot of people in this country’s very recent history who wouldn’t have considered themselves racists at all because they weren’t full-on violent bigots or Klan members or something, but they would have opposed interracial marriage. When interracial marriage was made legal, a larger percentage of citizens actually didn’t approve of it than don’t approve of gay marriage now. But not everybody who would have said they didn’t like interracial marriage would have considered themselves a racist. I’m sure most of them would have insisted they weren’t. They would have just seen themselves as supporting traditional values.
I see casual, low-key bigotry as being dangerous, too, because people can pass it off as being no big deal. It’s much more insidious.
I’m not even saying Chuck Dixon is a bigot. Right now, I’m also not going to go into other things he’s said that bother me or other reasons that I’ve considered him for a Douchebags of Comics card.
Right now I’d just like to address that one comment. Can anybody explain to me any possible way in which saying that gay people shouldn’t be in stories children see is *not* bigoted? I really don’t think there is one.
One of the big ideas about how I do these comics has always been to integrate all the different aspects of things I’d like to make art about into one (Eventually, hopefully cohesive) whole. So, I don’t have a body of mainstream work and then a body of autobiographical stuff and a separate catalog of erotic stuff. It’s just all part of A Waste of Time. I figured that I could use my cartoon characters and my rabbit to put all these things together. It’s either a great idea that will make the comics unique and interesting, or a great way of shooting my career in the foot.
So, for example, we go from sexy boy drawings to drawings of maggots and flies. The hope would be to defy classification so that people aren’t just like, Oh, those comics are a gay thing, or they’re a sex thing, or whatever, they’re just comics. Of course, what I might also be doing is alienating the audiences that might, individually, be interested in the separate types of comics on their own. But I’d like to have more faith in my readers than that. People should read beyond their primary interests, and as an audience I don’t want artists to do what I tell them, I want artists to surprise me.