Still drawing when I can, which is more than nothing, but not nearly as much as I want. Making progress, though.
Having everyone here, staying at home, staying in place, isn’t much different from my life before, except there’s no opting out. My son’s not going to school. My partner isn’t leaving for work or going out to do his own thing. I don’t have the uninterrupted hours I had before to do my own work. I can’t even run errands to get out of the apartment by myself.
But I like these people, my cats, my little home. We already split our time together on the weekends between actually being together and doing our own activities by ourselves in separate corners of the apartment. We’re still doing that, but for more days at a time. I cook more, because three people x three meals a day, and clean more, and I’m keeping my son on a loose schedule that has us doing art and schoolwork all throughout the day, but in between, we have chunks of time for ourselves. My son plays games or watches videos, and I spend a little time on my computer, or – whenever possible – draw. An hour later we’re doing the next activity together.
Last week I reread The Eyes of The Cat, thinking it’d be fun to start reviewing comics again, which I haven’t done regularly since I had a column at SF Signal (1). With the pandemic and ensuing lockdown shuttering my local comics shop for now, I’ve decided to re-read and review books I’ve already got at home. I have so many! Graphic novels and collections and boxes of floppies… I could talk about different comics every week until the end of 2021. (Fingers crossed my local reopens before then.)
So, that’s the plan.
I bought Lost At Sea, by Bryan Lee O’Malley, at The Beguiling when I was in Toronto a few years ago. It was released by Oni Press in 2003 (they also put out his more famous work, the Scott Pilgrim series).
This stand-alone graphic novel kicked off O’Malley’s career a year before Scott Pilgrim began, when he was just 24. It started as a two-page full-color comic in the 2002 Oni Press Color Special, and later expanded into a small book. Though fans will be able to see the evolution in O’Malley’s style from here to there, I actually prefer Lost at Sea. It’s not as directed toward the 20-something gamer geek crowd. (No disrespect intended; I’m both a gamer and a geek.) It’s softer, more open to interpretation, and easier to find yourself in.
Lost focuses on the story of one girl looking for her soul, which was stolen by cats, or traded to the devil. Or she could be looking for friends, or a salve for her broken heart, or a ride back to Canada. There are a lot of possibilities. O’Malley mixes a strong but cute style – grounded in his use of dark line work and sometimes-dynamic panel placement – with a not-entirely-linear story line that was so intriguing I read the whole book in one sitting the first time through. And the next time. And again this week.
What stands out to me most this time wasn’t the way in which this lost girl wandered through her life, but how much the story looks the reader right in the eyes and says, “Hey, you’re secretly pretty great and worth fighting for.” There’s a kind of companionship there we all either take for granted because we’ve always had it, or wish we had because we never really did. The idea that no matter how weird or screwed up we are, there’s someone who’ll believe in us, walk with us, go to war for us… Right now, when any connection is a lifeline, friends like that seem like a dream, and Lost at Sea becomes even more lovely.
Notes and References:
You can still read all the comics reviews from my “Outside the Frame” column at SF Signal, here.
The Beguiling, like a lot of shops, is closed for the duration of the shutdown but if you’re local, you can call or email them to place orders. They’re offering pick-up and delivery. Read more here.
I reread The Eyes of the Cat this week, a graphic novel written by Jodorowsky and drawn by Mœbius – hands down one of my favorite artists. Created in 1978, the original portfolio-sized zine featured 56 single-panel pages because Jodorowsky specifically asked to “be free from the traditional format of each page cut into panels” (according to his introduction). It was their first comic book collaboration (they later worked together on The Incal series, which I also have), and was Jodorowsky’s way of making something, anything, out of the ashes of the movie-that-never-was, Dune. (1)
Without any warning or reason, my insomnia faded away. I’ve been sleeping at least 7 hours a night, all at once instead of broken up into separate naps, for the last week. By itself that’s wonderful and I’m glad. But I’m also dreaming a lot more — not just more than I did when I wasn’t sleeping, but more than I usually do when I sleep okay — as if my brain is trying to shove in an extra two months worth of dreams on top of my usual slate, to make up for what I missed. Maybe this will recharge my brain, get my creative writing back on track? Or maybe it’s only pretty pretty lights playing merry hob with my brain, and in a few weeks it’ll fade away.