A mark of distinction with this particular panel, in that I remember vividly putting down the eraser after the final cleanup, and sat there filled with a rare feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction - the surreal experience of being suffused with happiness and peace over creating a really depressing piece.
I was recently giving a show & tell to a group of folks, including some young kids, and this original panel surfaced amongst the usual batch of samples I rotate through the demo portfolio for such gigs. Given my location at the time + the statistical propensity of some Bush communities, especially off the road system, I mentally hit a speed-bump before gambling and talking about this particular panel. One angle was how animals can sometimes be used in lieu of people to broach sensitive subjects that might not otherwise ever come up in conversation. Also breaking the taboo of silence is more often than not an important part of the healing process.
And it's not so much my wallowing in melancholy or artistic purging of inner demons that leads to such work, but the reality of personally losing several friends and acquaintances: not to put too fine point on it, when three folks I know shoot themselves within a two year span I start to get pissed, which is basically giving cover to just being scared.
Alaska has usually leading stats on suicide due to any number of factors, and it's important to know about the resources available in our communities, such as crisis lines and keep an eye out, and be willing to lend an ear if not a helping hand. And I'm certainly not above the random sucker-punch to regular readers who expect entertainment and are instead given a piece to really think about.
It was also just World Suicide Awareness Day and National Suicide Prevention Week... but aside from promoting awareness, so is every day and every week.
I'll end on this poignant panel: Chuck Legge down in Mat-Su draws (update: drew) excellent editorial panels for the Frontiersman, and now has his own page over on Facebook.