12 Easy Steps for Breaking Up


~ January 19, 2006 ~

So not too long ago now, I had one of those things happen to me in life-- one of those things that takes us off that path we were happy to be on, and plops us down on something cold, lonely, and unfamiliar-- one of those things that serves as a constant reminder as to how unfair it can all be.

Over two months have passed and it is on my mind still, every waking minute. Of course the emotions involved have changed, as they are fluid byproducts of the grief and slow recovery involved. But in one form or another, whether it be loneliness, betrayal, anger, fear, etc., it is there, every conscious moment.

But I feel as an artist, it is during these times; what feel like the lowest of the lows; that it is necessary we create work about these experiences. I feel that not only is it a way to cope with the situations surrounding us on a personal level, but also that it is during these times that we learn the most about ourselves and the reality of life around us, and thus, we are much more capable of communicating something meaningful, worthwhile, and most importantly, honest, to an audience.

It is because of everything stated above that I found it particularly frustrating that I was unable to truly begin chronicling my emotion until about four or five weeks after said event. Although I wrote scripts, and planned out a few different versions of comics, I found the actual artwork to feel like a tedious chore-- I would quickly become physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted at the thought of trying to get everything I felt onto paper. That is until I visited MOCA in Downtown L.A. to see the 'Masters of American Comics' exhibit in mid-December. It was by far the most personally rewarding exhibit I have ever visited-- giving me that boost of inspiration which I so desperately needed at that time.

Although I was a bit familiar with the work of Chris Ware before (his style was influential with my Turn on the Fun comic), it wasn't until this trip to MOCA that I really began to fully appreciate it, and attempt to take the time to understand the intricacies involved with his amusingly honest narrative, designs, and diagrams. Although he is probably most well known for his novel, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth (which I have since read, and loved, and I did really enjoy seeing original artwork from the book), I was most attracted to a poster which I saw at the show, with a title of: Ruin Your Life: Draw Cartoons! And Doom Yourself to Decades of Isolation, Solipsism, and Utter Social Disregard.

That piece inspired me to look at my current situation in a different light-- to take it out of the form of a traditional narrative, and subsequently, turn to a different medium. (Well, by different medium, I mean a different printing process, as my final product is meant to be seen in poster form, so everything can be viewed as a whole; one constant diagram-- no page turning.) But most importantly, I think it taught me to try to present this situation as something that is worth presenting-- by injecting just enough sarcasm and wit, and displaying that within something aesthetically interesting and new for the viewer. Because in all honesty, I've come to realize that nobody would care to read some overly personal narrative of me feeling sorry for myself. Although I've kept the events fairly grounded in truth, I feel I've been able to take much of the personal emotion out of the work-- I just hope it can still resonate some kind of broad honest sentiment, so you, the readers, feel justified in taking 20 minutes or so out of your busy lives to actually sit down and read it.




Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth

"There are moments-- indeed, days, weeks, or even years on end-- in some people's lives where there is a palpable sense that all activity is valueless... Perhaps someone has just let us know that we were not, after all, the life companion that they thought we were, and asked that we please not visit, or telephone, or share their sheets anymore, and that we also please, at the earliest possible opportunity, stop by to claim our remaining personal belongings..."

"In such times... many of us may seek out some form of pageantry to provide distraction, or solace... [But], the thinking person would have to conclude that, in general, the seeking of emotional empathy in art is essentially a fool-hardy pursuit, better left to the intellectually weak, or to the ugly, for they have nothing else with which to occupy themselves. Besides, it is unsightly to feel sorry for oneself, and such 'unfortunate times' eventually pass, anyway, and if they don't, then mercifully, for the rest of us at least, suicide is, of course, an option."

- F.C. Ware
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth


DMV Comics