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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Emerald City Comic Con



What, another announcement? Yep, I'm shouting again. This time I would like to draw your attention towards the Emerald City Comic Con. I will be seated there at my very own table, right between the uber-talented Mark Tedin and the brilliant and bedazzling Brian Snoddy. My table? Z-06, thank you very much.

And here's the thing I'm excited to announce. I finally have a sketchbook for sale. It's a strange one, a very personal one; being the strange person that I am, it fits.



The Little Chapbook of Pain is a perfect-bound book of 140 pages with 84 pieces of black and white art sealed within a color cover. It will be selling for 10.00 at the convention, 14.99 after, and that's including shipping within the continental U.S. I'll have doodles in the first ten copies.

There will be Magic prints, originals and who knows what else, but having this little sketchbook is a big deal for me.


Here's how to find me.



Ready, set, GO!

Antifesto

It's time I gave you an update. 

Something happened to me in 2010. Something huge. 

January 15th came and suddenly I was 40 years and one day older than my dad had been when he died.  

That threw a switch in me. I have pulled the plug on my professional career. Too blunt? Okay, I've put it on indefinite hold. I do teach on the side for the Laguna College of Art and Design with a wonderful gent named Bobby Hernandez. That gives me just enough to keep the engines running. 

Why am I doing this?

2013 is the year I begin busting out my own stories. This January I completed a project called the Little Book of Pain. It's an eBook at present, available on iBooks; the Kindle versions will be uploaded as soon as they're ready. My first offering may seem like a strange way to start, all personal and soul-bearing and such, but I owe some of my healing to those who have dared to let me see their pain, and I want to repay that debt the best way I can. Kay Jamison, William Styron, Andrew Solomon, the anonymous voices in "A Music I No Longer Heard" by Leslie Simon and Jan Johnson: they showed me I wasn't alone. It's my hope the Little Book of Pain will have the same effect on someone else. I call it a "Shitstorm Inspirational". I started on this quest in 2010, the year I gained the distinction of being my own dad's elder, and it seemed appropriate that my first book should be about him, and me, and the Little Kid forever caught between us by his suicide in 1976.

There's much yet to be done for the LBP. I've got the Kindle versions to complete and the hard copy of the LBP to finish for the Kickstarter campaign. I don't think I will be done with this story for a very long time. It's taken me thirty years to realize I'm living the damn thing and I can do more than cope. I choose to thrive.


I've worked with others to help them tell their stories for more than 20 years. Now it's my turn. I'm off. I've got enough material to keep me occupied for the rest of my days. I aim to catch your curiosity and hold it tight. My next project is already building a head of steam. The prologue for my tale will appear as part of the Dead Anyway comic anthology. It will mark my first dip into the terror-filled world of comics.

It may not always be a smooth ride, mind you. But I promise you it won't be dull, either.



The Facebook Page for the Little Book of Pain:

TheLittleBookOfPain

I post news relating to my book there, art and such, but I also share things I find inspirational. Videos, animation, links to resources for depression and other mental health issues. There's a lingering sense of shame in our culture around mental illness. We've got to break that down. Depression can be treated. There are people who care and places where you can get help. The LBP page is my soapbox for issues like these. 


You can find the eBook here, on iTunes. I apologize to all those with Kindles! I will have the Kindle version up as soon as I am able.

The LBP on iTunes

Lastly, here's the Facebook Page for Dead Anyway, well worth checking out:


Dead Anyway

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday on the Downhill Slide.


It's January, 2013. I am officially four years older than my dad. I made it.

I'm not sure what that means, or if it means anything at all. 


When I first began therapy my expectations were broad and shallow. I wanted to get my professional life back under control. I was tired of feeling sad all the time. There were moments when I was so angry it frightened me. I was exhausted from swinging like a pendulum between these two poles. 

Doctor, I'm broken. My dad was a shrink so I'm familiar with the schpiel: "the therapist only points in the right direction. It's up to the patient to walk the path." Yeah, fine, whatever. Fix me already.





 

I wanted to keep looking out to the horizon, same as always, Mr. Intellectual, suspended at a critical distance from himself. My therapist made me look down and see all the ankle-snapping potholes that perforated the tarmac underfoot. Awareness of potholes in the road--stage one, check. Stage two: avoid potholes, check. One, two, one, two, one, two.

Nothing worthwhile is easy. 

I don't want to revisit my dad's death every January, any more than I want to accept that I'll be a flat-butted hairy Viking for the rest of my days, but walking backwards through life will eventually get you decapitated, right? That's the key to the trouble. Turn the problem around until it makes sense. Get the perspective nailed down, lest every step lead to a tumble. 

This isn't about dad anymore. It hasn't been about him for decades. It's about me. All of it, from the darkest moments when I think about chasing after him to the brightest, when it seems like everything is possible and within my reach, this revolving storm that hits the same point of land every twelve months is what I have become, sui paternis. I am more than my father's son. I am four years off the map and still going.

Maybe that means as much as I want it to mean.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quit Apologizing.



Hey.

I know you fucked up. I know that you know that, too. You blunder your way though life, through people. When you're blind--and you're blind most of the time, be honest, your regrets prove you have hindsight--you leave unintentional destruction in your wake. You leave behind an emergency room full of victims. Awareness amplifies the agony. You watch as you deliver the blow and you wonder if the day will ever come when you can be something other than a spectator to your own behavior. You'd put a vise clamp on your mouth if you could. You'd stay awake 23-7 if it meant you could do all the things that would make everyone happy. You'd do anything to make it all better.

Some broken things won't ever come back together.

Accept that you won't receive absolution for the wounds you've left behind. Be thankful when someone surprises you with forgiveness. Don't wear it too thin. Do more than promise to change. Make the effort to effect the change that's needed. You can be more than play at being an audience of one to your own stupid behavior.

Forgiveness runs through a thin cord. It's not infinitely strong. It can be worn out.









Forgiveness relieves. Actions heal.




Friday, January 11, 2013

Listen to Yourself.










Last night, while speaking with a friend, I learned that a former neighbor of hers had committed suicide. He left behind a trio of teenage kids and a wife.


37 years ago, as of next Tuesday, my own father did the same thing.

This fellow tried self-medicating, with alcohol.

So did my dad.

Today's keyword is hopelessness.

I don't know what prevented this fellow from getting some help. I can imagine myself in his shoes. Dad's blood runs in me. Combine that line with the thread of mental illness in my Mom's line and I get a sympathetic vibration for everyone in this tragedy.


The stigma that enshrouds mental illness gives resistance where almost any other medical condition would invite acceptance, the debate over health care costs notwithstanding. I wouldn't think twice about letting EMTs patch me up after a car accident. I *did* resist treatment for my own depression. I hung back out of shame. I made excuses, procrastinated, and continued to trip over my own feet for decades. What made the pain preferable to treatment? I didn't see it that way. I saw treatment as a prize far above my head and out of reach. Money, time, opportunity, what did it matter? I saw myself as hopelessly broken. There was no point in seeking therapy.

I wasn't entirely wrong in thinking depression would always be with me, either. It will. Depression's my cancer. I'm treating it with drugs and it's in remission. Past that point the analogy breaks down. It's an iffy thing at best to try and wish away a carcinoma but choice plays a big role with the healing process where mental illness is concerned. Therapy's taught me how to moderate the effects of depression. I've learned how to treat myself. I'm learning how to live with depression.

I've learned that hope never leaves. I couldn't see it because I'd pushed it out of sight.

And who am I? Ordinary. One red-haired, gawkish, muddling single adult white male. It has often felt like it's taken superhuman effort to keep myself going, but that's only me swimming through my own life. I am not special in the wider world of my kind.

You can do what I've done.

Try.  Please, try.

I can't ask it of my dad; it's too late.

It's not too late for you.






Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Turn and Turn.


Round and Round and Round it Goes.....










...Where it Stops Nobody Knows.

That's what sticks most in the craw when it comes to inner demons: they never stop having a say in your life. You wish they'd just go and stay gone.

Our media makes us addicts to the Miracle Cure.  Have a weight problem? Try the Zone, the Paleo, the Crawl, the Butterfly, the Strain. You're unhappy? Buy a car! An iPad Mini will put a smile on your face if the iPad didn't. Just get yourself a new house, a better job, more money, a man, a woman, Jesus, a baby, a submarine, a rocket-powered elephant, and all your problems will vanish. The message says internal turbulence has an external pacifier. Wouldn't that be lovely?

Your inner demons are a part of you. You were compelled to make them. You survived by staying hidden in their twists and folds. Then conditions changed. You grew up. You got out. The folds ceased to be protection; they caught your feet, tripped you up, held you back. You sought help and met your demons face-to-face for the first time. You came to understand them a little. Session by session you regained the control you'd handed them when the world was too hard to face any other way. You learned how to hold on when they fought back. You found you were strong enough on your own. Now you don't need them any more.

The inner demons don't know that, don't want to hear it, won't ever believe it. Their reality will forever be the nightmare that gave them purpose and they will always try to make you see the world through their eyes. You can dismiss them, calm them, quiet them, but forget about getting rid of them. They are part of your framework. You don't reach peace by waging war against yourself but by achieving a detente with the little bastards. They ruled you, once upon a time. You have to parent them to keep them quiet.

Periodically you'll slip and they'll drive you for a while.

Remember what you've learned and gently push them aside.

There is no Miracle Cure.

Healing comes one twist at a time.



Monday, December 3, 2012

Stormy Weather.


Hey. Looks to me like you're getting soaked out there.









You know you can come inside any time, right?

And therein lies the problem: translating awareness into action. It's easier to hold tight and hope for clear skies. The longer you wait, the easier waiting becomes, until the day when waiting is all you know how to do.

You got stuck out in the rain one step at a time. Quit thinking about retrieving safety in giant leaps. Go back to the tried and true method that you misused. Give yourself permission to take a step or two towards a place that's dry and warm instead. Keep at it.  That's what will make it into a habit.

One day you'll look up and realize you reached the sunshine all by yourself.