Sunday, May 10, 2020

Two-fur: "Cooking Shows" + "Depression Nap"

Probably getting close to the time of the year where the winter material is running out as far as being in sync with the actual weather conditions (aside from the inevitable anomalies) Not that my work has much if any connection with current events, since being untethered to reality comes in handy more often than not when dealing with conditions (mental or physical).

Retreating into the opiate of the mass media is an effective method of cocooning one's consciousness, swaddled away from any of the causes or concerns that inundate the awareness of anyone who is paying attention.

I can't honestly find fault in any way with that - buffering my brain by opening up the doorway into imagination via pages of my sketchbook is a reflexive approach to dealing with stress (is not dealing with the issue).

Every once in a while I find myself getting accidentally sucked into the sight of one of those innumerable cooking shows while walking through a room that has the idiot box on. Aside from the nostalgia of old episodes of Julia Child, I rank them up with the brain-numbing, soul-sucking popularity of watching  fishing, golfing home improvement et al. It immediately begins the artistic anesthesia by  deadening one's desire to initiate any effort.

By that I mean there's one brief chance at tearing oneself away before succumbing to the lull of watching someone else work (as opposed the subtle cinematic alternative of watching someone else's work): my knee-jerk reflex honed over many, many years of media abstinence is to immediately ask myself the question "what could I be doing instead." This means not getting an awful lot of contemporary culture, but it come down to I'd rather be consumed by my own crap than be a consumer of other people's. And then there's the Pavlovian trigger of binging on both episodes and victuals.

Besides, when it comes to wasting time, any decent artist is already a consummate professional at investing incalculable amounts of time + energy into pursuit of their passion. Priorities, priorities.


  1. Yes! I wrote in my journal 40 years ago, "I would rather be thinking than entertained." This does run into the problem that I aspired to be a syndicated newspaper cartoonist (among other high creative ambitions) at the time, and that almost required close awareness of current events and popular preoccupations. Think Doonesbury and then Bloom County. The Far Side offered a completely unhinged outlook, but much of the other material that was making it in the funny papers had some direct reference to modern life in the moment. Side note: I was coming up with Far Side-esque ideas and considered them too self-indulgent and disconnected to be of commercial worth. Haaaa! Instead of being ahead of my time, or too late, I would have been right on time for the first time in my life. Oh, bitter irony. By the time Larson came out, it was too late to be anything other than one more participant in a new genre.
    Depression is a constant companion to the creative mind. Because we can see how things could so easily be better, we live every moment with the frustration at so many people who insist on keeping things from being that way. There's also the bipolarity of the creative excitement set against the dark slackwater into which we plummet when a project is completed, or in those times when the light just seems to go out and every match is wet.

    1. My graduate advisor made me read some Larson for the first time since it came out for my thesis paper on single-panel gag cartooning. I mean, yeah it was a rather glaring omission, but I guess I still have a bit of resentment at the inevitable, uninformed opinion that gets lobbed my way whenever someone first sees my work "oh hey - you're like the Far Side." Yes, you could say a Ford F150 is just like a Honda Civic in that they both have four wheels, a steering wheel, use gas etc. but sorry no, they aren't anything at all alike if you know what the hell you're talking about. I always point to Kliban as the real deal, and everybody since then is just clumsily aping after him (okay, and Charles Addams, Gahan Wilson and Hank Ketcham). It's like a professional courtesy to avoid any potential conceptual contamination by actually reading any contemporaries - one reason the longer you work the more you get inexorably drawn farther and farther back into more historical works.
      Ahem. Well that was a total threadjack into a side issue.
      But seriously, between slackwater + wet matches = you gotta write at least a short story version of a graphic novel with lines like that. I'd sure as hell buy it.

  2. Not really a threadjack, since I brought up Larson. I also liked Kliban, but never considered his work as the basis for daily syndicated fare. I was totally thinking in terms of the standard 3-panel format with a batch of ideas I was brewing. That first attempt was abysmal, and got rejected in record time. My next brain wave was completely different, a few years later, as the trend of stay-at-home dads and male spouses was piquing the public interest. "Oh, what a concept!" Previously, the cartoon image of the stay-at-home husband was Andy Capp. I even did a gag with that. Because I WAS a stay at home spouse at the time, I had lots of experiences to embroider. We had no kids and no plans for them. I got to observe my neighbors and imagine more interesting ones. But the working spouse scourged me out to grub for a real paycheck before I had a submission package put together. Disruptions like that have dogged me as I tried to bring together things like reliable shelter from the elements, adequate food, and some kind of companionship. I started working on it again a few years later when I was conveniently unemployed, but we suddenly had to pack up and move because the landlord wanted to sell the house we were in. And so it goes. I can either be completely alone or embroiled in someone else's serial calamities. There are forces in the universe that we do not understand...