Somehow, a lying, racist, misogynist, xenophobic monster won the election for the highest public office in The United States last night. It's horrifying.
I was hoping from ages 2-5 Suzanne would grow up knowing that a woman, just like her, held the highest office in the land. Instead she will grow up with a president who I wouldn't even trust to be in the same room with her.
For the first time in a long time, I am scared of what the future may hold. As a cancer survivor, my wife Claire has one of the biggest "prexisting conditions" out there and if/when the Affordable Care Act is repealed, I don't know if we will be able to find health insurance, which we really, really need.
But as a white, straight, cis, abled man, my fear of the future no doubt pales in comparison to that which is felt by my friends, loved ones, coworkers, fellow cartoonists and students who are people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+, disabled and/or female.
Growing up, I was taught that it was impolite to talk about politics or religion with people you've just met. Over the years, I have seen the wisdom in this. These beliefs are so deeply held that they are very unlikely to be changed simply by discussing them briefly in passing, or even over a lengthy meal. Many an awkward interaction has been adverted by following this advice.
As I've built my career, I have continued to follow this "no politics/religion" advice. I have not been outspoken about the things that I deeply believe. My thought process was that by making my comics available and enjoyable to people from all different backgrounds, people who might disagree with my beliefs up front could potentially come around by being exposed to my beliefs slowly through my work. I don't know if this has ever worked, but my privilege has allowed me to think it has been a fine strategy for quite some time now.
But I'm sitting here this morning asking myself, "Could I have done more?" and the answer is an unequivocal "Yes." I absolutely could have done more. I want to start doing more, today. And I feel like the first step of that process is trying to be a better ally, and for being a bit more upfront about what I believe in.
So let me be perfectly clear: I believe that love is love and that any two consenting adults should be able to marry each other, raise kids and live without fear, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or any other personal trait. I believe that every woman has the right to choose what happens with her body. I believe that Black Lives Matter. I believe taxes should be drastically raised to improve our society by focusing on education and helping the less fortunate. I would gladly hand over 50% of the money I make to never again have a corporation play the odds with my health and well-being, or that of the people I love. I believe that unless you are an American Indian, you are an immigrant to the United States, and should therefore welcome other immigrants. I believe that religion has done more harm than good throughout history and that the world would be a better place if people focused more on the problems that are facing us right here and now instead of on a supposed afterlife. "God" is not going to fix the problems that face us now. It's up to us, the human beings that are currently living on earth.
If any (or all) of this is offensive to you and you are suddenly disappointed that you have supported my work in the past, I am happy to offer a full refund. Go ahead and tally up every minicomic you've ever bought from me, any money you donated to the Basewood Kickstarter, or to my Patreon campaign and send me the total, along with your mailing address:
P.O. Box 8907
Santa Fe, NM 87504
I will write you a check. If you are glad that Trump is going to be president, then I don't want your money.
To be honest, I still don't really want to talk about this stuff. Doing so (especially on the internet) opens oneself up to a lot of confrontation, and personally I'd rather focus on the safe topics comics and creativity. But you know what? I can handle some awkward interactions. I've been comfortable for long enough. Suzanne is growing and learning every day by watching the world around her. The least I can do is try to give her one positive male role model to look up to, because she certainly isn't going to find one in this nation's leadership.
My only regret is that by stating these beliefs I am contributing to the further polarization of America. I do believe that change happens in the middle, with compromise, and I refuse to believe that half of the population of America is evil. As things get more and more dire over the next four years (as I'm sadly sure they will) my hope is that Trump's supporters will see the huge mistake they have made, and adjust their beliefs accordingly.
This fall, I started a new job at The Center for Cartoon Studies, as their Director of Academic Outreach.
Next week we're launching the first big project that I developed, with the help of CCS co-founder, James Sturm. It's called the One-Week Cartooning Workout and it's a free, self-directed comics course that is all done through email. When you sign up you get one email a day for the next week which includes: a daily challenge, some tips and tricks, links to examples and recommended reading, a fun fact, and an inspirational quote.
I've been working pretty hard on this for the last few months and the emails are loaded with little illustrations and animations that I drew. Check it out! It doesn't launch until next week, but since you are reading my blog, you are obviously a cool person, so you can check it out early. Please let me know if you have any feedback! The idea for this course was planted in my head by my former student David Humphreys, so thanks to him for being full of good ideas.
One of my other duties as Director of Academic Outreach is to do free video streaming sessions with comics classes and clubs at colleges around the country. The idea is to share some of CCS's comics expertise while also letting students know about CCS's MFA program and summer workshops. If you are attending a school (or teaching at one!) and would like to have me beamed into your class, drop me a line. I'm also available to lead workshops in person. More information is available on the Academic Outreach page on the CCS website!
Back in 2007 I finished off a 32 oz. bottle of ink that I bought back in 2002 when I first started drawing comics seriously. I drew about 600 pages of comics with that ink. The last couple of months with that bottle were a real slog, because the ink had become very thick and sludge-like. When it finally ran out I bought a 16 oz. bottle of ink, thinking that I would use it up more quickly and therefore not have to deal with the same problem.
Well, nine years later, I finally finished up that 16 oz. bottle of ink! By my estimates, somehow, I still drew more than 600 pages of comics with half as much ink. My guess is that the completion of Basewood had something to do with this (smaller pages, less ink) and also the ink going a bit further (not turning into sludge towards the end). Anyway, the math broke down to about .02 oz. per page of comics!
All my hectic summer travel wrapped up and I have been enjoying my time at home with Claire and Suzanne. As freelancers, we traditionally work seven days a week, but we have been trying to set aside some time on Sundays to work on projects around the house. I started a new Flickr album to document some of these undertakings. This weekend my father-in-law and I are going to put a skylight in the kitchen which should brighten things up considerably.
I'm 37 today, hurtling towards 40 at the speed of time. This year has gone by faster than any I can remember. 36 was a big one! Suzanne arrived and we bought this house. I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be a calmer year, putting some roots down here in Santa Fe.
I'm working on a bunch of cool stuff right now, but I'll wait until some of it is finished so that I can share it with a proper post. I hope everyone is having a good fall so far!