COLUMNS

Riff Raff Riff Raff

Wingnuttin’it

“That’s how to pick out a wingnut in a crowd: They are incapable of having two separate ideas. Any two ideas must be turned into an equation then added, subtracted, or divided to make a third.”
-Aaron Cometbus

Hey folks. How’s it goin’? Me, I’m feeling on top of the world because I made all my deadlines for various art related jobs. I’m done. Did it. Yay me.

But, it’s a funny anti-climactic feeling that reminds me of the funk I fall into after I have an art opening. I feel empty. Run around for months and put everything else on the back burner except ART and realize LIFE is passing me by. “Hey, Frank, you wanna go swimming? All your friends are going and they all want you to come along!” Nah, I gotta finish my comic book. Go have fun. Without me.

Sucks. But, if I always put off the drawing because it’s a nice day outside then I’m cranky sitting at poolside with my friends. “Whatsamatter, Frank? You look like you’re at a funeral!” I know, I know. It’s just I’ve been putting off working on my comic so long that I feel crazy inside.

I wish it was easier, but it seems like it’s this way every summer. In the winter, it’s a breeze to just hibernate inside and draw, draw, draw. What’s a guy to do?

Okay, forgive the therapy session. I will move on. But, I brought it all up because I notice that every summer around this time I feel like I wanna do something more with my life than be chained to a drawing table, y’know? Ever feel this way, fellow cartoonist? No? Liar.

Two summers ago, this type of funk hit me super hard. I was moping around when my buddy Spahr told me about a documentary that really lit a fire under his ass. “It’s the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in a long time”, he said. So, we sat down to watch it. And it literally changed the course of my life.

The documentary is called Garbage Warrior. It’s about the architect Michael Reynolds and his quest to create affordable sustainable housing. Say what? Affordable sustainable housing, folks. Meaning houses that require no heating or cooling systems, no electric power lines going into the house, no water and sewage lines going into the house. They are literally “off the grid”.

I strongly suggest you watch the documentary. Click on that link above. The film and the ideas expressed in it really shook me up and got me out of my funk. It made me think beyond my little world of paper and pencils and comic books. Yes, comics can be a limitless universe of the mind – they can take you away from everyday reality. But, it’s everyday reality that I so desperately want to be a part of in a real, meaningful way. I’m tired of keeping the world and the people in it at bay so that I can write and draw comic book narratives. I need more.

So, that summer me and my girl went to New Mexico to check out these sustainable homes. The next summer, 2010, we decided to move out there to live in one of these “Earthships”. The building we moved into was made mostly out of recycled materials like tires, glass bottles and beer cans. And adobe. Seriously. We have banana trees growing in our living room. No joke. Check out this letter I wrote to friends about it.

I’m not boasting, I’m just trying to spread the word. Perspective is a motherfucker and after living out in New Mexico “off the grid” – I am fundamentally changed inside. When I came back to Pittsburgh after living out there I couldn’t believe how much waste I saw everywhere. People wasting water on their stupid lawns – wasting gasoline mowing their stupid lawns. We covet water out there like it was gold. We conserve gasoline like it’s Mad Max. I feel like I live in a parallel universe out there. Like a comic book.

So, if I am doing something other than being chained to my drawing desk, then why did the funk descend upon me this summer? Maybe it’s cuz the everyday reality that I was trying to always keep under wraps finally overwhelmed me. I went from denying that there was a world out there to diving head first off a cliff into a stranger, newer world. I fell off the grid. Perspective is a motherfucker. Sometimes I wish I would have just kept on pretending that my little world of pencils and papers and comic books and the view from my drawing table was all that mattered.

It’s fun talking to people about all this crap – but it’s also hard because most folks think that I’m a wingnut and sort of dismiss the whole endeavor. I feel like I’m trapped in some old Sci-Fi comic book where I’m the cassandra-like character who is trying to warn everyone about some impending doom. What impending doom? Watch this. And then watch this. And then, in order to cheer yourself up, watch this.

Over and out.


Comments are closed.