“So what’s the deally-o Dally-o? Not going to tell us about your Vagrant Adventure?”
It’s true, I’ve been protective of my homelessness experience. I’ve shared some details with a very few people, but have been careful with what I give away, and when asked, usually speak in generalities like: “It was powerful. I met the people I needed to meet, saw what I needed to see, and had the insights I needed to have.” If I feel like a mischievous imp, I simply say: “You’ll have to buy the book.”
It’s not that I’m trying to be a mysterious dick, it just that when an experience is precious and profound, you’re not wanting to give it away. I feel like the magical quality of the trip would diminish if I tried to portray it with words. It would be a shadow of the real thing, and the more I’d talk about it, the more I’d believe the words and forget the experience. I found this to be true with Vipassana. I came out of Vipassana “high” and wanting to share it with everyone, but the more I tried to explain the transcendent, the more it became words. Flat, dead, rational, categorical, words.
If I were a William Blake or a Rumi, I could get you close the the actual thing with words, but even their poetry isn’t the thing itself. The thing itself is always beyond words. If you want to know the thing, then go do the thing!
Honestly, I’m still processing the experience and expect it will take a while. The Vagrant Adventure is like a gold mine to visit when I need material for this book or understanding about life in general. I’m excited to explore expression via the unique combination of art and words.
I’m ready to embark on a new graphic novel, and the journey begins with a bus ride to Austin, my old hometown, the place the book concept was sparked. For the next ten days I’ll be researching and seeking inspiration in Texas, and since one of the themes of this book is homelessness, it means I’ve chosen to live like a vagrant during this trip. A friend encouraged me be authentic about it, so I’ve decided not to stay with friends nor bring any money or credit cards. Undoubtedly it’ll be challenging, but great things are rarely accomplished from the comfort of ones couch.
To me, this adventure is a sort of spiritual endeavor: trusting life to provide my sustenance and, more importantly on this short trip, the experience and insight I need at this time.
I didn’t even have to sleep with anyone for this comic. I’m kinda proud of myself actually.
There was experimentation involved though. For most my comics, everything is done digitally. But with this, I printed up the linework, put in on the light-table, covered it with a sheet of watercolor paper, and went to town with graphite, greyscale markers, and ink wash.
Then I scanned the tones and slipped them under the original line work. I feel it gives is a grungier, more handmade look. What do you think?
I love drawing faces, and have been experimenting with larger, more expressive eyes. What do you think? Do you have a favorite?
PS: Click images to make larger, and use your keyboard arrows to scroll.
Recently I completed a 10-day silent mediation course called Vipassana. During these 10 days you are not supposed to talk, gesture, touch, or look into the eyes of another human. In addition, books and writing materials are not allowed. Instead you live a simple monk-like existence and meditate 8 hours a day.
With a routine like this, there is nowhere to hide from yourself. No distractions to soothe the pain in your mind. From deep in the subconscious, thoughts bubble to the surface: thoughts which bring pleasure or discomfort, craving or aversion. Your job is only to watch these sensations ripple through the body and remain objective. Equanimous.
To call it a mediation “retreat” would be misleading. It’s fucking work, and can be torture. There were times I wanted to yell in frustration at my wandering, neurotic, impulsive mind. Us humans like to think we’re independent agents with free will, when in fact we’re dominated by our conditioning and habitual thought patterns. Vipassana helped me understand this on an experiential level, and has given me the tools to affect change.
I really got to experience how all my suffering and unhappiness resides only in my mind. It’s not caused by any person or any situation. IT-IS-ONLY-IN-MY-MIND. The good news is: that’s also where an eternal spring of happiness flows, and all it takes to bathe in those refreshing waters is awareness, patience, and persistence.
The mind is also where creativity lives. If you can hush all your crazy bullshit, magic is there for the taking.
Needless to stay, I’m excited to see where things go from here. I feel like I’ve reached a turning point in my life… coinciding with the turning of the sun. (happy solstice!)
Vipassana TEDx Talk
Learn More/Find a Course
Three months ago I set a goal: to have the first draft of my book ready to bring to Los Angeles at the end of May. At the time, I estimated the book would be around 110 pages long. Today, as I show interested family members the draft, I have 107 pages, which means I nearly reached my goal, right?? Well… not quite. Turns out the book will be more like 150 pages. Quite the miscalculation.
It’s funny: when I first conceptualized this story, it was much different. Originally, it was a simple 30 page story about a Woodsman and a Wolf which acted as an allegory for love and loss. As I began working on it, however, I had a dream where a third character entered the story: the woman herself, the lost love. In hindsight it seems like an obvious addition that belonged there all along, but at the time, I remember thanking the Muses for handing me a creative break-through — one which would take the story to a whole ‘nother level.
Since, even more has been added, and what started as a cozy cottage is now become a towering skyscraper. The book is now not only a commentary on love, but also on creativity, ambition, fame, power, addiction, society, loneliness and failure. It’s a distillation of topics I think about and struggle with, and is a sort of manifesto on what I’ve found most important in life. The book itself is ambitious and experimental, and in my vision it’s beautiful and thought-provoking and emotionally powerful.
But it’s not there yet. And although my family is impressed and encouraging, they’re not seeing it the way I’m seeing it. Closing the gap between the soaring vision and the tangible object is the challenge and joy of the creator.
Tumblr is a great site for artists to find and show art. I created one a little while back, and have posted a few doodles there that haven’t made the Blog. Anyhow, when I posted the “Renewal” strip I did a little while back, I was pleasantly surprised to see it get over 100 likes and re-blogs from complete strangers! It’s not 3 million hits on YouTube or anything, but was my first piece of art to “go viral”, as the kids say, and it was super encouraging and a good omen for my next adventure…
STUMPTOWN COMICS! I should actually be packing right now instead of blogging, but I just wanted to share a little bit of my excitement about this coming action packed weekend. In addition to Stumptown being my first comics convention, I’ll also be CouchSurfing the first time, and my hosts sound really awesome. I’ll be meeting them tonight at a Food Not Bombs dinner in a city park. I really can’t imagine a better (re)introduction to Portland. I’ll be bringing my bike with me and will use it as my primary mode of transportation in this bicycle friendly city. I’m sure I’ll get my ass lost about 836 times, but it will be a blast nonetheless. In addition to the convention itself, there will be great panels and workshops, comic art gallery tours of the city, pre and post parties, and even an avant garde comics performance. It’s going to be nuts.
I’ll be bringing a few samples of my art, but really my main goal is to meet a lot of great people and learn more about The Biz. Wish me luck!
I love the expressive strangeness of these characters. This would be a fun style to create a children’s book in.