The boyfriend looking all sad and wounded after he had to have a tooth out last week. I thought he looked cute all pouty and with his cheeks swollen up like a chipmunk, but I think he might just be too nice to tell me he hates this drawing.
So, some of the ex-boyfriend portraits that I’ve been posting over the last couple of weeks are gonna be arranged like this in the final page. There’s still gonna be lettering and -Gah!- color, but this is what the drawings are gonna look like in there.
This is actually the third page of the five page piece, so this is the center. The rest of it won’t all be portrait drawings like this, but it will be on a six panel grid like this, and then I’m drawing a few other vignettes separately and then I’m gonna edit them together in an order that makes visual symmetry and rhymes across the pages.
The first ex I dated on this page is panel three, and then from there they continue chronologically clockwise around the page, which I wanted to do because of the images of circularity that have been going through my comics recently. It might not make a difference or might not be noticed by anybody, but I think when the text and colors and everything are all there, it will hopefully make a lot of sense.
So, this is actually the guy that the piece for which I’ve been posting drawings one at a time is about.
How the piece started was that, around three years ago when I was dating him, I wrote him a poem, because I do stupid things like that. I wisely never showed him the poem, because it wasn’t all that good. There were parts that I liked, but I never finished it to my satisfaction before things started to go sour. There were still certain parts and turns of phrase that I wanted to use, though, so when I was approached to do a short piece for the anthology of Robert Kirby’s Three, I thought that this might be the time to dust it off and try to finish it.
It was an interesting experience, though, trying to complete a piece that was about how you felt about somebody at a particular time when you no longer feel that way about them. I started to think about how you feel about something within a moment is very different than how the memory of that moment feels when you’re looking back on it in retrospect, and so part of the poem was about one set of reactions and part was about a different set, although they were about the same incident, and I couldn’t really write about it without writing about it from two different perspectives, and commenting on what I was doing. So I was writing about being in a moment, but from the perspective of when that moment was over, which seemed interesting to me in terms of some other things I wanted to do with making a comic that was more poetic, and trying to do a comic book equivalent of the achronological song structure of some of the songs in Blood on the Tracks.
So all these different ideas came together with a few other ideas I had about form in comics, and hopefully have formed (Or are forming) something that will bring some elements of collage and song writing together with comics in an interesting way, which I saw as a way to create the comics version of the poem I had done in the first place.
Or, you know, maybe I just am creating a pretentious mess.
When I posted this on my Tumblr a couple days ago, somebody commented:
“im sure simon amstell would be thrilled to be portrayed as a rapist. jesus christ.”
So I’d like to make the following DISCLAIMER: I do not actually believe Simon Amstell is a rapist.
Although, I don’t speak for Simon or know the details of his private life, so there could be a trail of violated twinks a mile wide stretching across London of which I’m not aware. You never really know someone.
But regardless of the possible dark underbelly of Simon’s life to which I’m not privy, the drawing I did was intended as what’s called a “joke,” and he laughed a lot when I showed it to him, so I’m pretty sure he likes those “joke” things the kids are making these days.
There’s a bit in Simon Amstell’s show Numb where he talks about wanting to hate-fuck Justin Bieber until he cries. I’m uncertain, but given that Simon’s doing comedy, I think this may also be something akin to a “joke.” When I met Simon last time he came to San Francisco, I talked to him about my comics, which it turned out he had already seen before. He told me that he liked this drawing that I had done of an ex-boyfriend of mine, so I thought doing a drawing of Bieber in a similar pose might entertain him. Simon’s a lovely individual, and was extremely kind and complimentary about my art when I met him, so when I heard he was coming back to San Francisco, I thought I’d like to do a drawing for him as a gift.
The show I saw him doing, Numb, is just such a great piece of writing. After I saw the show once, I probably would have been able to quote good sized stretches of it, because it’s so precisely and beautifully written that if you move a piece around or substitute one word for another, it’s not quite as good. It was still a lot of fun to see him do it twice, though, because he’s also a great performer, and there’s room in the piece for embellishment, and it’s also a lot of fun to watch him engage his audience. He likes to incorporate what’s happening around him at the time that he’s doing the piece, and it’s great to see how he’s able to do that without compromising any of what he’s written.
It seems like he usually picks up on something or someone in the audience and makes that a part of the night, so it would probably be fun to watch him do it several times and see what changes. This time, he started to comment on the notebook I was holding on my lap, which had the drawing of Bieber in it, and then said, “Oh, I know you…” Later on he has a bit about pretending to write in notebooks when you’re in a cafe alone so people will think you’re a traveling genius, and then he pointed to me and and my notebook and said, “Apparently I’m not the only one with that idea…”
I was distraught that he saw through my traveling genius guise, but glad that he recognized me.
Anyway, apparently this was the last US go around for Numb, but a friend of mine saw Simon road testing new material in London a couple months ago, so I’m excited to see what that will be. If you didn’t see him the last two times that he’s been here, see him next time- we need to keep encouraging him to come back!
This is actually the boy I was talking about in my last post, who I dated and who was from San Francisco. It was an odd relationship, and I wrote a pretty good set of comics about it that hopefully one day I’ll get around to illustrating. I don’t think I’ll start going into too much detail about it yet, so that it can have the surprise value for people when they read it that it had for me when I lived it.
I’m posting these portrait drawings here chronologically right now, although they probably won’t appear that way in the Three piece, so up until now the guys in the previous three drawings are all guys I’ve done comics about in the past, and this is probably the first one that hasn’t appeared in my comics that I’ve posted before. I dated this guy at the end of 2011 for a couple months, so that’s roughly how long there is there is between what’s currently going on in my life and the comics that I’m posting about it. I’d like to narrow that gap so that the comics have a more immediate feel to them but, like I’ve discussed a lot of times before, it’s so much quicker to write a comic than it is to finish and post it.
Especially as the storylines get more complicated, I think I start to bog myself down in finding the grand scheme of things, and making it all fit together in some beautiful, structured way, and I also try to find a way to fit the fairly strictly true auto-bio stuff in with the more fantasy based stuff about robots and teddy bears that will, when it’s all together, be readable and make sense and form collected chunks of story with the literary merit to which I aspire… the pains of being pretentious.
By the time I was actually posting the bulk of the comics in my Boy From Santa Cruz storyline, that relationship was already done and I had written dating comics about other guys, and I thought it might be a good device to sort them without using their real names to call each one the “Boy From…” whichever, and it worked out nicely that each of my relationships at the time seemed to be with a boy from a different Bay Area city, so that there wasn’t much overlap, and the one the lasted the longest and the first guy I was official with in several years was the only one that was actually a San Francisco resident, as I am, and not a resident of a neighboring city, so I felt that would end the series with the nicely clever and suggestive title of Boy From San Francisco, because that title, of course, could also refer to me. These are the things with which I concern myself during the periods in which I’m not posting much except an occasional blog in which I say, “I’m writing lots of comics, I swear!” and then disappear again for a while. I know, I know, I should just draw cartoon rabbits fucking things and get the fuck over myself.
So anyway, within that series, the guy in today’s drawing is the Boy From Fremont, and my relationship with him was an interesting one. It’s going to be a pretty brief series of comics, because the relationship was pretty drama free. That’s what distinguishes it from some of the others, actually. It was a weird kind of thing, ships passing in the night, where we got along just fine, everything was fine on paper, and for whatever reason we just never connected on a deeper level. I felt like we were drifting apart, or at least, not drifting closer, and so I ended it. In retrospect the “drifting apart” might have been my own projecting, and me being so used to relationships that were high maintenance that the fact of us not having drama made me feel like we must not be connecting. I broke it off when I met another guy who I thought I had more of connection with, and of course that relationship ended up being a high-maintenance drama fest that ended traumatically, so you know, who knows, maybe there’s something to all those silly theories about how you get back from the universe what you project out into it, or how your own expectations manifest themselves.
Anyway, this guy from Fremont and I are actually still friends, which is something I haven’t managed with very many exes, and we both have new boyfriends, which we manage to discuss without it being jealous or weird or anything. Very, very strange. If you didn’t know better from looking at my other relationship experiences, you could almost assume I’m an adult or something.
Another portrait done for a panel for my story for Robert Kirby’s upcoming Three anthology. I’m hoping it might be kind of interesting to watch these pieces come up together, and then see them develop into the complete piece they’re supposed to be a part of. Some of the individual pieces will also probably be featured in Boys I Did, the collection of portraits I’m doing of guys I’ve gone out with over the years.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. I was staring at this face on the news all day Friday, so I ended up drawing it. What was kind of fascinating to me was how this picture, which tells you nothing about the person, became a blank slate onto which people- hack news anchors, especially- could project any kind of wild speculation that they wanted. After hours of frenzied conjecture he was (allegedly!) some kind of criminal mastermind that was coming for everybody. If he did what he’s accused of, which it certainly looks like he did, he’s a dangerous person and shouldn’t ever leave prison, and it’s important that we find out why. But he’s also not Dr. Evil, operating some vast criminal conspiracy to take over the world with a couple homemade pressure cooker bombs and secret agents disguising themselves with stupid looking backwards baseball caps.
Reading about it on Saturday, I saw news reports describing him as “ethnic Chechen,” because they need to specify somehow that he’s FOREIGN even though he’s actually an American citizen and has been here since somewhere around the age of nine. But that won’t do, because it has to be specified that he’s one of Them. The news reports Friday featured endless speculation about every connection to terrorists that Chechnya has ever had, because that was the key bit, that he was from There, not Here. On ABC they read the captions from those pictures of his brother boxing, and the anchor said that one was “especially interesting” and then read a quote talking about the brother being extremely religious.
Why is that extremely interesting? If the phrase “extremely religious” was referring to the reincarnation cult featuring ritualized cannibalism that Americans prefer- you know, Christianity- then it wouldn’t be of interest as a motive- it would be the part of the report where they drag every family member and acquaintance who ever knew the person on the news and report what they blurt out, which is always about how the accused seemed like such a nice person and had such nice values and they never saw any hint of anything wrong. But it was clear that the anchor wasn’t talking about THAT religion, she was talking about that OTHER one, you know, the iffy one.
The problem is that the whole Us vs. Them mentality is the entire reason that things like this bombing can take place to begin with. To do something like that, you have to be able to disassociate from the victims. You have to be able to decide that it’s alright to murder these innocent people who you don’t know anything about because they’re part of Them and that makes it justified.
It disturbs me that we see the same disassociation when we seek revenge for the crimes. Obviously he needed to be caught and it’s great that we caught him alive so we can possibly find out more about what happened. Law enforcement, from what we know, seems to have done an amazing job of making it happen and keeping the people in Boston safe until it was over. But I don’t take any particular glee in reading about some pathetic 19 year old who we don’t know anything about getting dragged out of a boat, or in seeing pictures of him bloody and broken in the dirt being handcuffed. It was great that we caught Bin Laden, and I felt a sense of relief, but I didn’t feel joy or excitement in hearing about somebody being executed, and I think it’s disturbing when people do.
The childish Huffington Post headline of GOT HIM after he was captured, or the response of JUSTICE SERVED just seems to undermine the actual gravity of what happened, like it’s a chase scene in a movie and it ends when the bad guy gets caught. Actual justice being served will be when he is tried properly in accordance with law, and receives the correct sentence. It will also be when he is Mirandized and provided with legal counsel. I’ve watched a lot of crime movies, and even in the movies I don’t remember a part where they say that American citizens have certain rights “…Unless, you know, we really don’t like you.”
So this drawing is also for my contribution to the Three anthology. Part of the piece, but not all of it, is drawings of my exes, and this guy here is the second big one. I think by drawing each of them and then trying to fit it together I’m doing what I’m normally doing by writing autobiographical material: trying to make sense of life experiences or, more specifically, trying to give form and narrative structure to events that didn’t necessarily have any. We’ll see how it works out!