Family Man: she updates!

January 26th, 2010

Page 168.

Page 168 now online.

Behold!  I am reinstalled in my life here in Portland and almost out from under the massive backlog of orders, business chores and work; tomorrow I might even unpack the suitcase.  Luckily for my sanity, I get to ease back in with another one of these handy chapter transition images.  Next week we’ll have Luther and the library and hijinks will ensue.  Hurray!

Then the week after that I’ll be due for another round of page notes, although they might be a bit scanty given the hunting interlude.  (I do promise I’ll post links to the rabbit skinning tutorials I found on YouTube.  Like a banana, gang.  They peel like a damn banana.)

I’m still scrumming around for a reliable, quality printing company with good communication skills, located outside of this here continent (with prices to match).  If you’ve had any good or bad experiences printing a publication in four colors with an overseas printer, please pass that information my way, so I can locate a solid vendor and have a Family Man book for sale at San Diego this year.

Art sale!

January 25th, 2010

Hey all!  I’m experiencing one of those Freelance Moments(tm) where I’m short on cash despite being heartily employed.  Solution:  art sale!

I traditionally hate parting with original art, particularly from comics projects and especially when it’s not an in-person sale; it’s a little easier when I design something to be given away or when I get to meet the person taking it home!

So this is your excellent chance to snag some art from me if you don’t typically make it to conventions.

Up for sale on Etsy, everything from convention doodles to original art from Click.





The scans are on the murky side so that you can see the pencil lines underneath the inking!  These are slightly visible in real life so you and your friends can TELL it’s original art.

Monday Morning Poem: “Requiem for the New Year”

January 18th, 2010

Requiem for the New Year

Father and Daughter Toes

On this first dark day of the year

my daddy was born lo

these eighty-six years ago who now

has not drawn breath or held

bodily mass for some ten years and still

I have not got used to it.

My mind can still form to that chair him

whom no chair holds.

Each year on this night on the brink

of new circumference I stand and gaze

towards him, while roads careen with drunks,

and my dad who drank himself

away cannot be found. Daddy, I’m halfway

to death myself. The millenium

hurtles towards me, and the boy I bore

who bears your fire in his limbs

follows in my wake. Why can you not be

reborn all tall to me? If I raise my arms

here in the blind dark, why can you not

reach down now to hoist me up?

This heavy carcass I derive from yours is

tutelage of love, and yet each year

though older another notch I still cannot stand

to reach you, or to emigrate

from the monolithic shadow you left.

– Mary Karr

photo by Kaizoryn


Fathers and daughters have been much on my mind these last two weeks.  Caring for my father has been exhausting, far more than it would seem to be when described in writing.

I’ve watched his face wax yellow with frailty and drain white with nausea and flush crimson with effort. I’ve counted off every one of his one-hundred and eighty daily leg exercises, reminded him to breathe deeply, to relax his hands, face, shoulders.  I’ve seen him speechless with chill and fatigue and agony, press headphones full of jazz onto his ears so he could be at least partially disembodied, reincarnated as a coil of blue cigarette smoke rising from Dexter Gordon’s ashtray as he played ‘Round Midnight for the studio men in 1986.

I’ve estimated the angles of his knees as he gripped the arms of his chair and quaked with effort.  I’ve held his hand while a stranger calmly pried thirty staples out of the flesh of his leg.  I’ve filled his prescriptions for Vicodin and for a blood-thinning medication that is also a popular ingredient in most commercial rat poison.  I walked down a long clinic hallway with him, step by step, stopping three times for him to catch his breath.

I’ve had him lean on my shoulder as he struggles to turn and climb back up a sequence of four steps, repeating to himself the which-leg-goes-first mantra  “down with the bad, up with the good” which he had trouble remembering – painkillers render his short-term memory not unlike it had been before he quit drinking – until I pointed out to him that a man with a PhD in religion should be able to remember the phrase if he thought of it as a moral statement.  Down with the bad!  Up with the good! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I have brought him an eternal cycle of icepacks and pressed them against the great angry violet swaths of bruising on his thigh, awoken him at two in the morning to remind him to take medication, cleaned the toilet after he shits, emptied his catheter bag.

I’ve helped.

I love my father.  The foretaste of his mortality and potential dependency, as reflected in the aftermath of this painful but entirely elective, entirely constructive procedure, has been a bitter one.  Being away from my life, wrapped in the cocoon of his condition, ceasing to exist at moments as anything other than my father’s helper, has been an alienating, distressing, and precious experience.    How do other people adapt to being reshaped as caretakers of loved ones who are in permanent states of distress or disability?

For those who do so with grace, who negotiate self-negation with self-preservation, who give comfort and take it in equal measure, who are guardians of dignity and protectors of vulnerable intimacies; who perform the alchemical magic of transforming love into care,

I give thanks.

Spirit Photographs

January 17th, 2010

Man surrounded by signs of spirit presence

One of my favorite ridiculous phenomena of the Victorian Era:  the spirit photograph. You could pay money to be photographed and have the supernatural forces around you revealed on a silver plate, be it ectoplasm or be it a mournful feminine face lost a diaphanous swath of otherworldly chiffon.

Couple with a young female spirit

To the contemporary eye, they’re hilariously, magnificently fake; half-baked tricks of photographic exposure.  To me, they’re the perfect combination of anthropology and art, like old sci-fi movies set in a now outdated future.  They’re trying to envision something separate from their time and place – death, the year 1995 – but, hampered by their own chintziness, never achieve the escape velocity that real works of speculation or awe do.  We are looking at the lowest common denominator for how Victorian-era people (those who could afford a photograph, anyway) conceived of the afterlife.

Their origins are very cynical, these photos, but their falseness has now become quaint and pathetic.  Most of these photographers knew that they were scamming customers, but I wonder how many of them were lulled into thought that they were doing a pretty good job at interpreting an actual spirit world. Just helping it along, as it were.

For, example, of this photograph, the National Media Museum makes this note:


“The image of a young man’s face appears prominently over the man, draped in a cloak. The signature at the base of the image belongs to the sitter. The man had links with the person who compiled the spirit album, and he gave the photograph to her as a keepsake. He apparently recognized the young man’s face.”

Did any of these photographers avoid either the pure cynicism of a scammer or the self-delusion of being the spirit world’s darkroom assistant, and instead settle on the middle notion that they were simply giving people comfort?

Mourning scene

“A photograph of a mourning scene, probably taken by William Hope (1863-1933) in about 1920. A woman mourns for her husband in a Chapel of Rest, standing by his body which is wrapped in sheets and laden with flowers. The woman’s son stands beside her. The image of a man’s face has been superimposed over the original photograph. The spirit album notes that the family were Roman Catholics and believed in life after death.”

It does make me think about where we we might ourselves, here in this smug moment of the present, be sitting (unbeknown to us) on a little velvet chair, waiting for the nice man to take the exposure and show us another world – above, below, ahead.  And about how the effects of sorrow are the same in any time and any place.

Man with the spirit of his deceased second wife

Family Man update!

January 12th, 2010


Family Man page 167.

Holy mackerel am I ever tired, down to the tips of my fingers.  If this week’s page weren’t one of the “round white object near the center of the page” motif transition pages (…you noticed that, right?  Yes, you did, there’s a good reader) and if I hadn’t already drawn and scanned it before I became my dad’s home nurse for two weeks, the update would look like this:

[inserted obscurely dispirited post to Twitter here.]

Which, incidentally, will be what next week’s update looks like, because there is no chance, in hell or elsewhere, that I will have the equipment or opportunity to put a page together.  But this is what family is for, and helping my dad heal up after his knee surgery is not going to be something I regret anytime soon.  Be kind to your kneecaps, gang, because getting that joint replaced is definitely not any kind of fun.

See y’all soon!  Wish me luck caring for my favorite gimp.

Family Man update!

January 6th, 2010


Page 166 now online.

Well!  Welcome to 2010, everybody.  It makes me a leeeetle bit ill to think that this will be year 4 of Family Man and me only at page 166, but then, this comic was designed to be a learning experience and an ongoing project rather than an efficient StoryBlast.  I’m an immensely better artist and stronger storyteller than I was circa 2006 thanks to the weekly grindstone this comic offers (and the feedback you provide).  Thanks for your continued interest, those of you who follow along at home.

I’ll be hauling up to Seattle to take care of my pops, who got his whole dang knee replaced this week; I look forward to many amusing conversations involving the influence of painkillers and many exotic therapy routines performed with rainbow-hued rubber bands. Next week’s page is a simple one, so I’ll be updating while away, although the page for the 20th might come in late.

If you have any store orders, get ‘em in within the next 12 hours, or else it’ll just wait for me to get back.

Cheers, all!  Happy New Year.

Monday Morning Poem: This Gentle Surgery

January 4th, 2010

Iris Scisors

This Gentle Surgery

Once more the bright blade of a morning breeze
glides almost too easily through me,

and from the scuffle I’ve been sutured to
some flap of me is freed: I am severed

like a simile: an honest tenor
trembling toward the vehicle I mean

to be: a blackbird licking half notes
from the muscled, sap-damp branches

of the sugar maple tree . . . though I am still
a part of any part of every particle

of me, though I’ll be softly reconstructed
by the white gloves of metonymy,

I grieve: there is no feeling in a cut
that doesn’t heal a bit too much.

Malachi Black
photo by dannyeastwood

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