Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Marathon - One Year Later (Now With Tattoos!)

It has been a year.

This time last year Kirsten had just finished running the marathon.

I wrote about it here.

And, from a thousand miles away, down in the south of Florida we have managed to miss out on all the Boston Strong news coverage and hub-bub surrounding the anniversary of the horror. I think this is a blessing. I prefer to feel my feelings on my terms, in my own way.

In any case, we wanted to commemorate the occasion somehow and so we decided that now was the perfect moment finally get that tattoo.

Kirsten has a tattoo on her right foot for every marathon she has ever run.
(There are many!)
The position for the NYC star is lightly outlined on the far left

But she had not yet gotten her tat for Boston or for the NYC marathon back in November.

So off we went to HellCat Tattoo in West Palm where the owner himself did the work.

Kirsten has been saying from the beginning that she did not want something flashy. She has been trying to express the gravity this experience has had on her, how it changed her relationship with running, how, somehow, this bombing and the real fear we felt that afternoon had cut into the heart of her and did real damage to her safe space.

Running was where Kirsten went to feel safe.
To become more herself.
Running centers her.

And this awfulness changed that.

Prepping the needles and the ink

I don't think the changes will be permanent.
Or rather, I think they will be permanent but they do not have to be negative.
A scar (which is essentially what a tattoo is --just an artsy colorful scar) can serve as a reminder for how things were. It can be a marker in the road of life. 

I saw this. 
I had this experience.
I want to remember it on my terms in my way. 

My cousin has a tattoo for every child she has. 
My mom has a tattoo of a cross that is an expression of her faith.

Why not tattoo stars on the feet that carried you through pain and hardship and training hundreds and hundreds of miles? 

And I suppose it is a good thing to be reminded that the things that we love, the things that we think define us are fluid. Changeable. Though Kirsten did not have control over what happened to her at the marathon last year she can allow it to affect her, without having the ugliness of it break her spirit. This horrible act of cruelty does not have to destroy her love of this sport but it can change her relationship to it. She (and we) can discover what it means to be a runner again. 

Not because of the tragedy, but in spite of it.
Despite it.

We can be better.
We can keep running. 
Scarred but still moving. 

She decided to go with one lone star on her right foot. Slightly larger than the rest and outlined in yellow and blue. We put "117" in the center of the star representing last year's 117th running of the Boston Marathon.

I think it is absolutely perfect.

Confession: I have never witnessed in real life a person being tattooed. I do not have any tattoos. I asked my brother John once how it felt to be tattooed and he described it to me this way.

"Imagine getting a sunburn, a really bad sunburn in exactly one spot on your body. But that spot moves. You can feel that spot burning and moving." he said. "Then add blood."

Sounds awesome. 

She was a champ. 

It looked like it hurt.
A lot.

Afterwards we went to dinner and walked around a bit because she is crazy and likes to walk on feet that have been freshly tattooed, I guess. Most of her other tats happened immediately after the marathon's she was running on her swollen, raw, tired legs.

So, yeah.
My girlfriend is a badass.
As usual.

If I ever do get a tattoo I think I will borrow this idea of commemoration, I think.
It would be after I run the Boston Marathon some day in my future.

But until then. Here's this.

Shoes and all.

And to those of you running this year's Boston Marathon, I will be watching you, and thinking of you, this coming Monday.

Keep running!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

What I Saw On My Run Today (4)

I am trying a more watercolor-y approach today.

These drawings are becoming zen-medition-like experiences.

I get a chance to reflect, and rest my legs and try out new art styles.

There are LOTS of crazy birds down where I live

It's fun.

Know what isn't fun?

Seeing this: 

Which did actually happen on my run this weekend.

Photo cred to miss Kirsten who stopped laughing long enough to take the photographs.

Happy Monday everyone!

Go and be productive!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What I Saw On My Run Today (1)

Caution: Lone broken batteries may inspire existential angst

SMO 2014 is exactly 4 weeks from today.
I am running 9.8 miles, 5.3 miles, and 6.2 miles. 

Holy hell batman. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

SGM Post-Op & a note About the Lambda

So ends the Sean Gordon Murphy Apprenticeship Program, Inaugural Class, Winter 2014

What a ride! 

 The Upstairs Studio

There were 5 students all told. I was one, then Corin, the other female of the group. We had Jorge from Portugal, Stephen with his Alabamian accent, and Clay from up in Boston. Red was our dapper mascot for much of the time snoring on his dog bed right behind my drafting table and breaking wind often as not (Ew, Red! Stinky Dog!) 

Such a dapper gentleman

Cafe Racer is going to be a wonderful book. Sean and Colleen put together a great story that plays to all of our strengths as artists (mine tends towards the expressive walking-and-talking type of comics storytelling) and each of us was given a character to design. Mine was easy as I was told to google Matteo Scalera and just draw him as a mechanic. Is that giving too much away? Matteo and I have never met but oh god, I hope when we someday do that I have done justice to him. 

Designing ENZO

We spent the first week of the two-week session having daily classroom lessons, given by Sean, about the state of the industry, our strengths as artists and how to hone our skills as business people. He also did demonstrations on inking and how to thumb-nail a page effectively. 

Sean teaching with a fruit bat in his lap

Listening to the way he breaks down a page, first deciding which moment is the most important and therefore should command the attention of the audience was helpful. Just seeing the way he executes his art, from conception to finished inks was worth the price of admission. 

daily lessons

Our first guest speaker was the inimitable Klaus Janson inker on Frank Miller's Daredevil and Batman The Dark Knight Returns. He is as incredible a teacher as any I have ever known. He is teaching currently (as well as working professionally in comics for the past, oh, 40 years or so) at the School of Visual Arts in New York and I found that I envied his students. This man is professorial without being a bit condescending. He is open and interested and utterly approachable. Every question from us was handled deftly and with warm thought and real consideration. His insights were priceless.

Klaus Janson teaching like a BOSS

We also had conversations (via Skype) with artists Becky Cloonan, Fiona Staples and author Scott Synder. All of which proved to be invaluable resources giving us noobs a peek behind the curtain.  Becky and Fiona both talked about their process and told us what it was like for them when they broke in to the industry, the luck they had, meeting the right people. Scott talked about how he pitches an idea for a book to a publishing company and how he thinks about his stories in broad strokes asking himself What is this story really about?

It was wonderful.

Sean helped me understand perspective on a comics' page in a way I haven't ever fully understood it before. I have been faking it for years and I had enough of an understanding of How Things Work to make my comics up to this point rather believable but the little tricks I learned will not only make my art better, it will streamline my process making it easier for me to create better work, faster!  

Helping me create a perspective shot that POPS

The two weeks that we seven strangers (I am counting Sean and Colleen who knew less of us than we knew of them) spent together was transformative in ways that will play out only as time marches on. Certainly there things in my work that have already improved and I walk away from this amazing experience with new friends (and a previously undiscovered adoration for the movie Terminator 2) but beyond all that the Sean Murphy Apprenticeship Program has changed me. It has made me better. 

The Band Photo 

It was hard to say goodbye. What a wild awesome ride it was. I cannot recommend this experience highly enough. For any of you aspiring artists out there, do yourself a service and attend one of these workshops. Sean is worth his weight in gold and you will be well taken care of if you can get in.

The good-bye group hug

While I was up in Maine I discovered that I am a FINALIST for the FIRST-EVER LAMBDA LITERARY AWARDS which is mind-blowing news. Even more so since the competition for the prize is stacked so heavily with worthy works.

Sean's friend (and incredible artist) Andrew Robinson spent years making the gorgeous art on THE FIFTH BEATLE and his love and mastery positively drips off the page. I cannot believe that a girl who worked alone in a chilly, spidery garage making comics about the Boston lesbian scene (albeit one that she loves with her whole heart) is in the same field as this guy. The other two projects are impressive as well. Rachel Maddow and Alison Bechdel blurbed the book Calling Dr. Laura, by Nicole J Georges, published by Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt. The remaining finalist, Artifice, by Alex Woolfson (author) and Winona Nelson (Illustrator) is full color, on-line and available through AMW comics.  


And maybe it is uncouth say things like that. But it does feel a bit overwhelming. There are perhaps 100 copies of Duck Second Chances out in the world and that is it. All of which I made myself. From conception to writing to final inks and figuring out the publishing details --all of it. There was no Houghton Mifflin peeking in to see how things were coming along. No one to make fancy video reels previewing the book. Just me and Katie C (whom I cajoled to come in and please god edit the thing!).

One the one hand overwhelming.

On the other hand incredibly, deeply, wonderfully validating.

I have gotten in touch with the kind folks over at comiXology to see if they will carry an online, downloadable version of Duck 2. I shall let you intrepid readers know right away when I hear back from them.

Until next time!
Keep making comics!
(Or reading them)