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September 21, 2004

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This comic is about being hit on the head alot.


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David, who draws the comics.

I thought our parting was complete
But you are insistently real

Don't protect me from the truth. I know how close you came to walking away. But now, with the chromatic splendor of the new comic spilling through your ocular dimension, that trembling in your loins tells you yes -- you will stay.

I always loved those posters of Mickey Mouse "through the years." You see how abbreviated he was at his inception, and how various marketing efforts guided his design towards bigger eyes and a calmer, more bourgeoisie attitude. In the 80s, he sometimes donned sunglasses and a sharp powder-blue blazer. Anyay, I love that stuff, and we're going to do something like that today. Besides, I'd like to provide a little insight and explanation for those of you wondering why we're so late with this one.

The Ordinary World - The more recent comics have all started with a page of sketches, like this one. I draw in the same format as the actual comic will eventually occupy as a way of getting comfortable in that space, to begin to think within those parameters. Sometimes the sketch starts to look a lot like a comic, but it remains a jumble without narrative flow.

Crossing the First Threshold - This is the comic in an early state. You can see that I've spent a disproportionate amount of time on the end (my favorite part of this one), which is something art school tells you not to do because generally everything gels more nicely when it develops more or less evenly. It's like a relationship: it works best when both people are on the same page, when their thoughts and feelings change together.

Approaching the Innermost Cave - More of the comic is filling in, and I'm adding more colors, although not very gracefully. The drawing looks stiff; I'm relying on obvious perspectives and poses. The panel layout was supposed to resemble the city skyline. I wanted that rhythm to emerge, for the reader to get in synch with it, before it finally takes a recognizable form in the buildings at the end. At that moment, I wanted a feeling of realization and recognition, as abstract thoughts suddenly solidify into something familiar and comforting.

The Belly of the Beast - This is pretty much the finished comic, although certain things, like me in the first panel, and Dale and his wife, who were to be digitally inserted on the bleachers in post-production, are still missing. That I would hold off so long to add some detail, rather than let it emerge organically with the rest of the drawing, again shows my hesitation and stiffness which ultimately doomed this version to ugliness. Paul called me from New York after seeing a draft, and gave me some pointers. The narrative sequence is really confusing at the beginning. Also, the colors are horrendous.

This is the comic we would have posted on time. I hope you can see why we did not!

The Smelly of the Yeast - I knew the colors were atrocious, so I sucked out some of the juice. It's better, and I could have tweaked it a bit more and been done with it, but I was too disappointed, so I kept working...

The Return Voyage - Some panels are redrawn.

The Theorist's Archetype - The panel arrangement starts to shift around a lot. I got the idea that the books that hit Dale on the head could fall out of spaces in the comic, equating the comic panels with the bookshelves, equating the bookshelves with the city, equating everything in a rampage of joyous thematic restructuring. I called Dale and told him excitedly that the comic is starting to look very acid-trippy, although I don't do drugs.

Three years later, it was done.

Thank you to family, friends, and intrusively helpful strangers who offered support through this difficult time.

Please come back next week for a new comic!

- David

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(c) David Hellman and Dale Beran 2005