Friday, August 23, 2013

"Pigeons" part five

Did I mention that I'm having a great time drawing this cartoon? It feels good to actually get some momentum behind a serial again, and it's always nice to be able to breathe life back into an old idea.

In the last chapter, we found out that the mysterious pigeon our protagonist hit with his car was still very much alive. And it was pissed.

Read the previous chapters one, two, three and four to get the whole story! (Each chapter is only a few panels, give me a break!)

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Thinking in Pictures"

When talking to people (especially in front of groups larger than 2 or 3) I often find that I have to pause and carefully consider my word choice. For a long time I attributed this to my having a limited vocabulary, but I no longer think this is the case.

For the most part, my brain works in pictures. When discussing complex topics my brain will often, all on its own, begin to lay out the concepts in a visual, diagrammatic format that's easier for it to comprehend. Here's an example:

The scene: First year architecture school. I'm at a jury, with my work on the wall, in front of four faculty members who are discussing my work. 
The topic: Our studio has been discussing the "elements of architecture": Form, line, structure, context, and (I think) void? Give me a break, it was ten years ago. 

Me: (pointing to a collage that I'd created) "From the beginning, I tried to look at the elements of architecture as inseparable. Sort of like a funnel full of teeth."
Juror 1: "Teeth!?!"
Me: "Uh, not mouth teeth, but teeth, like a screw!"
Juror 2: "Oh, I thought you meant," *mimes pulling out one of his own teeth*
Class: *chuckles*
Me: "No, no! For instance, if the funnel is divided into five sections (one for each element), and you drop a marble into it, it will roll through each section as it travels toward the bottom of the funnel. Nearer the bottom it'll pass by each section more and more frequently, until it's a part of each section at the very bottom. Similarly, you have to continually address and re-address each element of architecture in your design..."

Of course, at the time I wasn't quite so articulate because I hadn't prepared the speech in advance, but I think you get my drift. In my mind, that visual analogy made perfect sense (and for their part, the jurors thought it was well considered once I was finally able to convince them I wasn't subjecting my studiomates to unwanted dentistry), but it took a huge explanation to describe it to someone else, and I still struggled to convey the concept.

That's the way that my brain works every single day. Thinking in pictures is nearly impossible to describe to someone who doesn't; if I struggle to properly articulate an idea, how can I convey the process my brain uses to create the idea? 

Images are naturally more difficult to convey with spoken words. Maybe that's why I was (and continue to be) so drawn to art. Now I just have to carry a sketchpad and a box of markers with me everywhere I go and I'm golden. Although ordering at the drive-thru is going to be a pain in the butt. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Pigeons", part 4

Oh, that poor sap. He should have just left town after hitting that pigeon. Because if there's one thing pigeons are known for, it's holding grudges. You don't think they poop on statues for fun, do you? Nope- ages old vendettas, my friends. 

That lesson is about to get a whole lot more real. 

(Do check out part one, part two, and part three; I'm pretty proud of this stuff, folks).

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Night Terrors

Last night I had the worst, most terrifying dream I've ever had. I had to write it down quickly or else I knew I'd forget it. This is completely true- I woke up in a cold sweat in the dark hours of the morning and for the first time since childhood was afraid to leave the security of the blankets.

In the dream I was attending a basketball game being played by a youth team from my church- I remember because there were several people from the church staff there. It was being played after hours in a school building. 

At some point, a teenager I wasn't familiar with sat down on the bench beside me. That was when I noticed that the legs of his pants seemed to be on fire.  Forgetting everything I ever learned about "stop, drop and roll", I said, "Come on, get to the showers!" I I hauled him up and we ran down the school hallway to the boys lockers room.

I arrived at the locker room a step ahead of him, slipping on wet tile as I entered. I turned around- and he was gone. What's more, all the lights in the hallway and in the locker room had gone out. A strange, chuckling voice sounded like it was right next to my ear- I couldn't understand what it was saying, but the sound chilled me utterly to the bone.

I started to run back to the gymnasium, but the concrete floor in the hallway was wet, so I kept slipping. I remember this part distinctly; the left wall of the hallway was white painted concrete block, and the right wall had long, strip windows that looked out onto a yard. I should have seen my own reflection and the reflection of the block wall in the windows as I ran back to the gymnasium. 

Instead, the reflection showed another room on the other side of the hallway, with long windows that I should have been able to see on my left. In the reflection, I could see a long, white room with bright lights mounted to the ceiling and huge metal tubs, like wash basins, laid out across the floor.

Finally I managed to make it back to the gymnasium. When I pushed the doors open, the first thing that struck me was the darkness, followed by the quiet. There was no game, no spectators, no snacks, not even trash left over after the game. It was just empty and silent. 

I walked through the gymnasium, calling out, trying to see if anyone was still around. That was when I noticed a light beyond a doorway at the far side of the court. I jogged to it, convinced someone was playing a joke on me. 

There was Emily, the young adult leader from our church, along with several of the high school youth. "Where'd everyone go?" I joked. drawing the attention of everyone in the room. They looked at me in puzzled silence for a moment, then Emily's eyes got wide. 

"Aaron... what happened?"

"... Huh? I was taking (name redacted) to the locker room, and then everyone was gone. What're you talking about?"

It was right about then that all of the student's mouths dropped open and they all started trying to talk to me at once. I didn't understand what was going on and asked about the kid I was accompanying to the lockers. "I just left with him a few minutes ago," I said. 

"Aaron," Emily said, "That was more than two years ago."
It took a few moments for it to sink in that she wasn't joking, and a moment longer for panic to hit me like a tidal wave.  

"No, it was only a few minutes. I was only gone for a few minutes!" I was trying to convince myself, but I could see it now- some of the youth looked distinctly older than I remembered them, and some of the older kids were nowhere to be seen. Somehow, it was all true. I'd been gone for more than two years.

I had nothing. There was no way I'd still have a job. Did I still have a home? Would Rebecca have been able to keep the house without me for two years? Rebecca... God, what was she thinking? Did she think I was dead, or had run off? Did I still have a marriage? What if she'd given up on me and was with someone else?

What about Mom and Dad? What had become of them in the two years I was gone? And Graham, where had his life gone?

I tried calling them- somehow I still had my cell phone, but it looked strange- it now had an old fashioned gray dot matrix screen, almost as if it had degenerated during my missing time. I got voicemail, no matter who I called. Clearly nobody remembered my number, or else had deleted my contact.  

I can't accurately describe the complete and utter loneliness that swept over me in those moments. I had been effectively dead for two years, and the world had learned to live without me. Now I'd been interjected into a world that no longer required me- it had gotten along just fine without me for this long. What good was I to anyone anymore?

More than two years... how much more, exactly? I pressed Emily for more details, but she couldn't remember the exact date I'd gone missing. Or the exact date that people stopped trying to find me. They'd closed the school for a while. One of the kids told me there was a rumor that I was haunting the school now. 

I wasn't entirely sure she was wrong.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"Pigeons", part 3

I took a sketch pad and my Prismacolor markers on vacation with me. Drawing on the plane was a nice distraction from crying babies and bad coffee. Some might say "But Aaron, you're supposed to relax on vacation, not worry about what's going on your blog". 

Here's the thing; I draw and write TO relax. These are pasttime activities for me, things I choose to do for fun instead of playing video games or watching TV. Actually, if I had to define it, I'd say that your passion is whatever you choose to do when you could otherwise be playing video games. If playing video games happens to be your job, well... go ahead and tell your genie your last two wishes, you lucky jerk.

So Pigeons, Part 3 is draw and colored with Prismacolor markers. I liked it so much that I'll probably finish out the series with them. 

(Cartoonist note- if this cartoon doesn't make much sense, then you should probably check out
part one and part two ;each of them is only one page, so it won't take very long. Come on, throw me a bone here.)