I’m bad at goodbyes. That usually means a person can’t say goodbye, and leaves unceremoniously without it, but in my case what I mean is letting go is difficult. When it’s time to leave I get immensely sad. I’ll be so happy, but when goodbyes come, I quickly sink into deep sadness. Sadness that this situation isn’t going on anymore, that it is now ending, that it has to end. I get anxious. I don’t want it to end. I feel so happy, so there, so in the moment, that when the moment comes to end, it’s heartbreak. But once it’s over, and I’m on the other side of the goodbye, it quickly becomes a bittersweet memory, and then I glide over into the new scenario, and I revel in its new happiness. I can’t transition. I can’t say goodbye. It can’t change. But the whole thing feels like the reaction I am destined for because I’m romantic. It seems appropriate to experience heartbreak at goodbyes, my romance with time. I’m in love with moments, and when they are over, I feel sadness for the clock, sadness that the moment will never happen again, in the same way that it had happened. The moment will be in the past forever on. So sad. Goodbyes are so sad. I’m surprised I fall so deeply in love.
The one transitionary period I’m good at is late at night, a little bit tipsy, with a clear sky. If the stars are above me it feels too sublime to be sad, moving from one moment to the next.
We text in the mornings now, which is nice because it feels like it isn’t scheduled. Things without schedules feel more real, but I know that’s not true.
I’ve been emailing and texting people I care about more. It makes me feel thoughtful and connected. I started a new job which also makes me feel thoughtful and connected. Liz asked me “What other kinds of things do you want to do in the future?” This is it, for now. I like teaching children and I like making art. It makes me feel part of multiple communities, and it makes me feel like a part of the future, however intangibly that can be measured. It leaves room for growth, room for input, room for my heart to keep expanding.
My new graphic novel is for kids and is about kids because that’s who I am thinking about right now. I walk into elementary schools, and I see this wonderful cross-section of humanity, and something inside me cleans up a little bit. “Children are our future” is sort of a egotistical way of looking at kids; it’s more like, “Let’s work hard so we don’t fuck it up for them.” They make me want to work hard for them. I wanted to draw a story kids could see themselves in, that I could see myself in.
Here’s a piece I wrote for the Comics & Cola blog about my comics collection. Special thanks to Zainab Akhtar for giving me the opportunity. (Here is a link to this piece on the Comics & Cola blog.)
The way I have my books shelved is chaotic. I’ve moved a lot, and by the time I got into the house I’m currently in, I was so tired I just shoveled books out of the boxes and into whatever crevice they fit. This means comics and theory and philosophy and poetry and art books and fiction are all bunged up against each other. However, I’ve been in this house a whole year now, so that excuse is flimsy. Now my excuse is that I’ve visually associated spines too much, and re-organization would mean utter confusion and I would never find anything again.
But I think that’s how comics should be! They should be next to poetry and novels and other books with and without pictures. I think partitioning books into whatever type we imagine them to be is stuffy, and juxtaposing them into interesting thought and idea categories is much more entertaining. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
“We need to forgive ourselves for how we felt in the past,” Rebecca tells me. Like holographic paintings belonging on the walls of an art museum, her presentation of Solid Sight flickers across the screen. The images are puzzle pieces, the passages borrowed phrases from various sources. Earlier in the day we had lunch and she showed me her studio; the unobtrusive set-up in her bedroom, her two desks relatively neat. Her room was mild and dark. I wasn’t ready for the evening.
Rebecca Mock is the second reader in the Bergen Street Comics event on the night of January 18, 2014, curated by Annie Mok. Unfortunately I missed Annie’s presentation, but I saw her curatorial hand behind the artists she had asked to join her. This was the first event where I finally felt comics belonged, to have the work presented by the artists themselves.
How would I feel if I were a dog and I were to die? Laura Knetzger reads the premiere of Comics For Dogs 3. Laura reads her work with a fiery spirit burning beneath her skin, her words numbing my heart like ice water. She started the evening with a few short comics, bright colors with words like poetry. But the whites and blacks and inky-grays of the longer Comics For Dogs work should have been a warning to me that this wasn’t going to be an easy art experience.
I start to cry as Laura continues. She speaks of a deep pain, but letting go. Forgiveness directed towards the universe. I want her to read it again. It was a night of appreciation. The artists have pinpoint intent. They stand with valor in this crowd; they are proud artists who present their work with the confidence of people who have sat alone and thought deeply.
I wipe my tears as Annie introduces Rebecca. The shimmering blue and red 3D images of Solid Sight have an evanescence that I missed in the paper form, and I become engulfed.
Earlier in the night Sam and I had dinner and talked about what we want out of a community. I like Sam. We talk about books and art and relationships. “What do I want?” is a question I ask myself a lot when I’m with Sam. What do I want?
O Horvath takes the stage. I have read their comic Spurt Of Blood before. But my experience of it holds nothing to the resonance of their presentation. They read the stage directions for their purposeful misinterpretation of Artaud; panel by panel the play unfolds on the screen behind them. The wrist of God is bitten and I start to cry again, in awe of my friend. I cry more during their second story, a short work for the lit and image anthology Witch Fingers, edited by Xander Marro. I watch our dream burn. I have to leave for air and miss Annie’s work.
Notes: Unquenched vigor. Truth. Quietness and chaos. Stories. Filter of art, speaking to truths, creating their own ebbed reality, bending around words and drawings. Untouchable and tangible.
During the questions after the readings Annie speaks of collaboration, and I see the room as it is, humid with intelligence and creativity.
We are a community and I’m not concerned with development. The support and love and validation are evident, self-evident. What do I want? The present is great and the future is great, our struggle is alone while simultaneously in our community, surrounded and intelligent. We are individuals with understanding for one another that puts hope and joy and inspiration into each other as we separate, until we see each other again, hopefully with more art to share and validate. This is a good place to be. A supportive group in admiration of one another and themselves, a petri dish of growth, the inspiration of seeing each other and telling our art.
“We are not alone.”
I have a habit that when I meet someone new that I’m really excited about, that I want to tell another person who made me feel really excited, so I’m writing a letter (initially) to tell you about this person, but also to tell you (you!) that you are such a great person to me. Do you get that, the intrepid desire to document a crush, crush being someone who excites you and you want to know more about, not necessarily a lustful thing? The need to write and create about this jar lid popping open with possibility?
People are so interesting, aren’t they? You’re so special to me _____, I feel so tenderly and sweet towards you. I like that you are a creator from a kind + honest place. That’s my favorite kind of person, the people who work + create, then share. I don’t worry about you because I know you’ll always be killing it. I have a predilection towards concern. Maybe it has a relationship with neediness. Possibilities open up when you have a crush, huh? Like the world feels endless. It is otherworldly and good.
How are you doing? Last time we spoke you were considering moving. Is that still on the horizon for you? I’m lying in bed writing this on a clipboard. It’s nice, cozy. I hope you are doing well, _____. I hope you are writing + playing basketball + making music. I hope you are happy. I hope your possibilities are limitless.
It’s weird trying to formulate arguments on issues that are self-evident to me. I don’t know who I am supposed to be talking to. I feel compelled to speak to artists who seem clueless, who repeat destructive oppressive behavior in their work and words, but for my own sense of safety I’ve cultivated a life that eliminates them. A point of view that completely overrides their work and their images, to the point they almost don’t exist for me, and are strange illusions I have. Glimpses on a screen before I close the window, big blank spaces when I’m glancing around the convention floor. So who do I want to talk to? Myself? To try to sort out my thoughts? And if I am indeed speaking to myself, if the audience I’m working on is me (as if in a journal), must I formulate arguments in the first place, about things that are self-evident to me? Coming full circle.
Being anti-oppressive is a big goal for the comic convention we are forming here in Providence. I’m excited to be part of a team that’s dedicated to doing everything we can to be inclusive and exhibiting zero tolerance for oppressive behavior and artwork. We have talked about making sure our intentions are clear and to the forefront of our show. And maybe that’s why I’m in such a conundrum, trying to think about how to argue for and against things that appear self-evident. Because I want to make my stance clear too, for people who are looking for it.
Art allows you to do literally anything, and when people use it to reinforce oppressive systems that are already in place, it’s not only intolerable, it’s downright unacceptable. I want to be talking to people who also believe that.