This week’s cartoon is another story that ends in a tease of what is to come… It seems that I’m heading down a path I say I’ve wanted to travel in my art. I have these stories to tell. They’re interesting but not funny, in many cases quite the opposite. They emerge from the six years I spent as a staff nurse on an AIDS unit. Not exactly the stories one would expect to find told in cartoon format.
The past few weeks’ cartoons have been stories that lead up to me starting on the unit. Now I face actually doing so and I hope the stories keep coming. In the past when I’ve gotten to this point, when I pull out the box of memories and list of names, I get paralyzed and nothing comes out. All I can do is take it one day, one name, one story, at a time. If I do a goofy cartoon called “The History of Me and My Cars” that means it isn’t going too well.
I don’t want to just write these stories. I don’t want to just draw or paint about them. I want to work them into cartoons. There’s a way of reflecting on and telling a story that for me is only realized when I take a subject into a cartoon. Something in the art form helps me put my ego aside and just be with the material.
I humbly follow the examples of Art Spiegelman, Lynda Barry and others who have shown us that cartoons do not need to be funny, just honest and smart. As an art form, cartoons are an underappreciated way to marry image and word. They also have a unique way of grabbing a reader and pulling her into the world of the story.
I realize my drawing skills are not what they could be, but there’s precedent there… also evidence that the longer I do this the better the drawing gets. My three short years of effort seem to indicate this is possible. I like to think that decent writing and bright colors can help mask the learning process.
There are other stories – some actually funny – that may get told along the way. Stay tuned. I’ll try to keep you posted here.