www.momscancer.com is a work in progress. It is my magnum opus, my "Citizen
Kane," the project I may have been born to do. While it is not finished, I
feel it is at a point where it would benefit from some constructive
I would appreciate your visits and opinions. I made my first post to racs in
1999 after lurking for a couple of years, and have been a constructive
(though not always frequent) contributor since. I've never asked for
anything before and am considerably nervous about doing so now; I cannot
imagine a more informed or difficult audience to please. Negative opinions
will mean as much to me as positive. I've been working for months with y'all
in mind. This means a lot to me.
Thanks, gang. As I add chapters in the coming months, I'm sure I will appeal
to you again. If you like it, tell a friend.
Well, you've made me late back to work on a very busy day -- that's a
The duck doesn't work. The rest is f***ing brilliant. I have family in grief
work and a son who's a nurse, so I'm not unfamiliar with some of this stuff.
What you're doing is valuable, touching and worth pursuing.
Lose the duck and keep going!
Glens Falls NY
Well, what better way to say "quack" than a duck to represent an
An osteopath in my own health system diagnosed me with scarlet fever
when my temperature (and it was written right there on the friggin'
chart) was 97.2 degrees. Maybe he thought that was in centigrade.
Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack.
But, yeah, if you're not going to throw in an anthropomorphized animal
every other strip or so (and that approach would present a whole range
of challenges), the duck just comes off as jarring.
I did like the strips. The "I nagged mom to quit smoking from the day
I could talk" stuff resonated strongly with me. She's still smoking
like a damn chimney at 64+ and no sign of any serious respiratory
problems. Her dad lived to over 80 and he smoked something like
45,000 packs of cigarettes before he went. 'Course, she's already
lived longer than her heavily-smoking, hypertensive, mom ...
_+_ From the catapult of |If anyone disagrees with any statement I make, I
_|70|___:)=}- J.D. Baldwin |am quite prepared not only to retract it, but also
\ / bal...@panix.com|to deny under oath that I ever made it. -T. Lehrer
> In the previous article, Mike Peterson <pete...@SPAMnelliebly.org>
> > The duck doesn't work. The rest is f***ing brilliant.
> Well, what better way to say "quack" than a duck to represent an
Originally I thought the duck came off as a cheap shot. After reading
the definition of "osteopathy," I changed my mind. Sounds like a
chiropractor with a different degree. Keep the duck, but you might
add some kind of signal to folks like me that assume that he's really
You might be interested in "Our Cancer Year" by Harvey Pekar (the "American
Splendor" guy) and his wife, if you haven't seen it yet.
"Ted Kerin" <tf.k...@gte.net> wrote in message
In many U.S. states, including Michigan (where I live at the moment),
an osteopath (DO, pronounced "D'oh!") can perform procedures
(including surgery) and prescribe medications just like any old MD. A
former colleague of mine had researched and was applying for the DO
program at a major university nearby; based on what he told me, and
the impressions I formed of my own experiences with DOs, I got the
impression that they have much less rigorous training, and that their
general philosophy of disease etiology, etc., is similar to
chiropractic. In other words, quacks.
I certainly won't let another one get near me under any circumstances.
My early-teen and pre-teen kids are getting pointed to this thing as
soon as I get home tonight, mainly for purposes of anti-smoking
propaganda, but also because I just think they would appreciate it.
Well, I found it fascinating, moving and insightful. I especially
liked your use of BW, color and the other (sepia?) shading later in
the strip. I also liked the way you used some of the medical and
mathematical stuff. I can't wait to see After the War, Part II.
I assume you've read/heard of Harvey Pekar - I like your stuff better
though, Pekar was a little too much "in your face" for me. Did enjoy
American Splendor though.
FWIW, I forwarded the link to my sister who teaches some media
Other people are going to say things a lot more eloquently than me -
I'm not in a very eloquent mood today. At first I was going to email
you privately, then I thought that it was more fair to you to express
what I thought in public so your peers would know how impressed I am.
First, the technical: I love the artistic style; I am a great fan of
that clean animation style and you are a very, very VERY skilled
artist. What's more impressive is your actual storytelling technique:
your use of which type of text container where; its placement, its
content, and your ability to convey enormous amounts of information
through short, sharp statements that sometimes hit the reader like a
blow. Placing text in a comic so that the eye follows it smoothly for
maximum impact is a real skill, and you have it.
I agree with Mike; the duck is out of context when no other character
is portrayed in a similar fashion. I'd recommend losing the duck; your
other portrayals of med professionals is exactly spot-on. (I am
curious - why that one character, and why a duck?)
Editorially, I don't know if anyone else agrees, but in chapter 15
when we meet the annoying oncologist in the fifth panel, I read "She
SMILES a lot" to be a continuation of the descriptions of Mom in the
caption boxes from the previous strip - I misread it to mean that Mom
smiles a lot, which made no sense in context. If others are having the
same misreading, maybe "The oncologist SMILES a lot" is clearer. (Man,
I wanted to slap her!)
That's as to technical stuff. As for content:
I read it straight through once I started. I couldn't stop. If there
had been a hundred more chapters, I would have read them, too. I
thought at one point, "This could be the 'MAUS' of cancer". I also
thought "this has *got* to be published. People who have been through
this *need* to know that their experience wasn't abnormal, that
they're not abnormal..."
I found it an incredibly moving and honest telling. I think you'll
find your audience ranges well beyond those who have walked in your
exact shoes. A lot of the family issues you explore are common to many
families facing any kind of crisis. My first pointer to the comic was
sent to mr. ronniecat, who nearly lost his previously-healthy father
during "routine" surgery two years ago. Father came out of the surgery
in a coma; then slowly recovered to a state of constant fragility and
serious illness. Five sons in that family, five opinionated
daughters-in-law, and a wife. You want to talk about clash of the
Your pacing and storytelling skills are incredible. The flashback to
Mom's father and the TB clinic comes at just the right moment, and is
Please let us know when there are more up (you REALLY left us
~ address altered to foil spambots * remove my collar to reply ~
~mon pied a terre virtuel * http://www.ronniecat.com ~
Aha. This has been well-explained elsewhere in the thread. But I still
think he oughta be a human.
>Editorially, I don't know if anyone else agrees, but in chapter 15
>when we meet the annoying oncologist in the fifth panel,
Bah, it's the fourth panel, not the fifth, and I realize we've met her
before, she is just being... highlighted... in this chapter.
Well, I still wanna slap her.
>> (I am
>>curious - why that one character, and why a duck?)
> Aha. This has been well-explained elsewhere in the thread. But I still
> think he oughta be a human.
I'm clearly in the minority, but I think the duck should stay. I think
it's a more visceral and space-effective expression of your opinion than
could be accomplished as elegantly were it portrayed as human.
Also unlike ms. cat, I'm only up to Chapter 5. The topic matter resonates
so deeply with some of my own experiences that I couldn't read more than
that at one sitting without tears and old anger -- which means, I'm sure,
that I NEED to read the rest. I certainly will, and soon.
Even with this small a sample, there are two things that profoundly
impressed me: one is general, the other is specific to one panel.
The general impression is that this work is being done with care and
precision in every line, every frame, every shade. "Love" doesn't come
close to adequately describing the driving force that is evident.
The single panel that arrested me for a long time was the "Not funny at
all" work in Chapter 3. It took me back to the first few weeks after my
mother was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. She behaved much like
your mother is depicted in that chapter, and it was baffling to the rest
of us because she had spent her entire working life as a research
biochemist. When my frustration with her became obvious, she said,
"Woody, I'm drowning." That panel, God, that panel is what she felt.
I'm sure that everyone who has gone through this kind of thing will find
many similar things.
I'm not going to offer any criticisms, Brian. I offer only gratitude.
Boulder Creek, California
Yeah, mine too. Same kind. Caused by cigarettes. It spread to her
brain too. I remember having to pick her up when she fell down in
the parking lot at the hospital. I remember crying with her in
the hall at the hospital. She was lying on a gerney, delirious,
crying from the pain. I was just crying.
>> I made a comic strip about it.
I remember reading the part where Lee took care of his ailing mother
in Douglas Southall Freeman's "Lee" at my mother's house while
she was bedridden. I'm sure I would have liked to have had your
cartoon to read, duck and all.
>ronniecat <ronn...@mycollar.ronniecat.com> wrote and righted:
>>> (I am
>>>curious - why that one character, and why a duck?)
>> Aha. This has been well-explained elsewhere in the thread. But I still
>> think he oughta be a human.
>I'm clearly in the minority, but I think the duck should stay. I think
>it's a more visceral and space-effective expression of your opinion than
>could be accomplished as elegantly were it portrayed as human.
We may be in the minority, but I like the duck too. To me it works
because you go from a relatively "normal" panel (he's sitting in a
chair watching tv at the bottom of Chapter 1), click on the link to
Chapter 2, and you're looking at talking ducks. I like the way it
sort of "jars" you out of reality.
I like it.
I enjoyed your playing with form (the Operation page, the labelled
diagram of mom in the chair, the alternating sequences of parallel
panels in Chapter 13). Once I read a message explaining that the duck
represented a 'quack', I could see how more transmutation of everyday
things and people into symbols of themselves might work similarly, but
with an unexplained giant duck as the only detail of that kind, I was
The name "Impressive Hospital" doesn't work for me. A lot of other
places where you round details off, it acts both to simplify the story
and to focus the reader on the one thing that links all the aspects of
the story you're telling (i.e. your mother). But giving the hospital a
generic name is "cartoony" in the bad sense, I think.
The more journalistic sections, like Chapters 9 and 11, can be wordy.
Looking at Chapter 9 specifically, for example, the captions are huge. I
think it works out in pages 1 and 3, where the images are illustrations,
not narrative, but when you slow down to relay small incidents in pages
2 and 4, the words get in the way a little.
Just my two cents. I look forward to reading the rest of it.
That's wrong. Your colleague must have based his judgment on the
curriculum for one school.
DOs are basically the same as MDs but they don't get admitted to the
American Medical Association.
Chiropractic has its place too, when used for the right reasons.
I agree that you should lose the duck. Some osteopaths ARE jerks (and
they DO seem to have a higher than average "chip on the shoulder"
rate), but some are every bit as good as some M.D.'s. And there are a
lot of jerky substandard M.D.'s, too. I'd make the character a jerk
without reference to being a D.O. (which I think isn't fair). And, as
has been previously said, the duck-ness is too jarring.
I assume that Power Puff Girls and the Operation Game are registered
trademarks -- maybe disguise them a little?
"Full disclosure" I've been a critical care nurse for a long time.
Half of my business is caused by smoking. Nobody believes in their
heart of hearts that "it" will happen to them.
Port Angeles, Washington, USA
> Thanks, gang. As I add chapters in the coming months, I'm sure I will appeal
> to you again. If you like it, tell a friend.
I am absolutley stunned. ronniecat's right. This needs to be printed.
Oh, and she and Mike are wrong. Keep the duck.
- me, off to forward this to everyone I know.
> I agree that you should lose the duck. Some osteopaths ARE jerks (and
> they DO seem to have a higher than average "chip on the shoulder"
> rate), but some are every bit as good as some M.D.'s. And there are a
> lot of jerky substandard M.D.'s, too.
Your argument lacks a certain rigor. This is apparent because you can
substitute *any* two professions for "osteopath" and "medical doctor"
without affecting its validity. I think we should let the author tell his
own story without watering it down.
Also, on reflection, I like the duck.
> The name "Impressive Hospital" doesn't work for me. A lot of other
> places where you round details off, it acts both to simplify the story
> and to focus the reader on the one thing that links all the aspects of
> the story you're telling (i.e. your mother). But giving the hospital a
> generic name is "cartoony" in the bad sense, I think.
Didn't bother me in the least. However, it's probably easy to come
up with something that is more ambiguous--it *might* be a real
hospital and might not. Would that work for you? I'd suggest some,
but I guess it's not *that* easy....
> I think we should let the author tell his
> own story without watering it down.
He can tell it all he wants, and any way he wants. "We" I (and you)
don't/can't "let" him do anything. He asked for opinions. I gave
mine. Not surprisingly, I like mine better than I like yours.
>In article <hrh590h48ct3ijuoc...@4ax.com>, Thomas & Karen Mitchell wrote:
>> I agree that you should lose the duck. Some osteopaths ARE jerks (and
>> they DO seem to have a higher than average "chip on the shoulder"
>> rate), but some are every bit as good as some M.D.'s. And there are a
>> lot of jerky substandard M.D.'s, too.
>Your argument lacks a certain rigor. This is apparent because you can
>substitute *any* two professions for "osteopath" and "medical doctor"
>without affecting its validity.
>Also, on reflection, I like the duck.
> Mike Beede
I'm usually very short with people with people using this NG as a way to
garner praise for their strips. (Everyone *says* they want constructive
criticism, but the folks who press their manuscripts on my DH--he's a
writer, he's written over 60 books--just want praise. You'll forgive me
if I've become cynical about newbies.)
But I am gobsmacked by this. You have a lovely, clean style, with
interesting layouts (the game board, the Operation game send-up, the
superheroes) and the characters are so true to life. And I'm a sucker
for artistic allusions.
There's been some cancer in my family, but I got shielded from it. I am
glad I never had to live this. (I was orphaned by the time I was 33.
Exactly at age 33, as a matter of fact.)
I know you have a life, and I suspect this doesn't turn out well, but
when can we expect to see more? Please tell us when you add more chapters.
>FWIW, I forwarded the link to my sister who teaches some media
And to my daughter who is in her first year of med school.
Well, he asked for a critique. Everyone likes the basic piece, so far --
he's getting some thoughtful input.
As for telling his own story, I agree. But I think people are entitled to
report that they feel the blanket condemnation of osteopathy is ineffective,
jarring or distracting ... as opposed to conveying the idea that this
osteopath was a "true believer." There are degrees ... before I moved here,
I went to a guy who was both an DO and an MD, and I liked the interplay
between the more holistic approach of the DO and the scientific rigor of the
MD. I'd rather see the anger directed at a particularly unscientific
practitioner -- with commentary, please -- I love commentary -- than see a
scattershot attack at a whole branch.
> Also, on reflection, I like the duck.
I'd like someone to explain how the duck fits with an otherwise
straightforward narrative. If you're going to do The Singing Detective or
Pennies from Heaven, well, carry it forth -- have all kinds of odd things
jump in and out. But the power of this story, to me, is the unflinching
reality and ongoing commentary. Having a duck in the middle of it is jarring
simply because it's so out of context with the rest of the treatment.
When it first appeared, I thought it was going to indicate some
hallucinatory effect from the brain tumor. Once I realized what it meant,
my reaction was "chill, chill -- I understand your anger, but don't let it
distract from this story you need to tell." It brings to mind Samuel
Johnson's tutor's instruction to cut from your prose any passage you think
is particularly fine .. it's almost always a sign of overreaching.
In "Maus," by contrast, there is a segment in which the story suddenly stops
being about mice and pigs and cats and becomes about humans -- when the
narrator talks about his mother's suicide. But it's couched in a framework
that makes it a story-within-a-story, a way in which the animal-character
motif is turned in upon itself. It's wonderfully effective.
But this simply breaks flow. If someone has a defense that goes beyond "I
like ducks," lay it on me.
> I am gobsmacked by this.
What a good term for it. Did you invent it?
> (I was orphaned by the time I was 33.
> Exactly at age 33, as a matter of fact.)
I was 52 when my parents died within 70 days of each other. "Orphaned"
was a word that crossed my mind once in a while, because that's what it
felt like at 3am.
>But this simply breaks flow. If someone has a defense that goes beyond "I
>like ducks," lay it on me.
>Glens Falls NY
I don't particularly like ducks (probably a reaction to a Sunday
outing with my daughter 20 years ago, but those were geese, so never
mind) , and I'm not nearly as expressive and coherent as you and
ronnie for example, but I like the duck specifically >because< it
breaks the flow.
When I go from the first page (Chapter), which has been relatively
straight forward (as ronnie points out, I really like the clean style
he uses) to a talking duck, I get the feeling that "This isn't my
father's comic strip." - I'm in for something different, and I like
> But this simply breaks flow. If someone has a defense that goes beyond "I
> like ducks," lay it on me.
I did that already. Evidently it didn't register on your worthiness
meter, so I'll just direct you to Bill Lentz's response to your challenge.
Also, how can something that appears in the second installment "break[s]
the flow"? To me, it alerts the reader that the following 40+
installments are deeply colored by the artist's impressions -- and, as we
all know, foreshadowing is the yadda yadda yadda.
Not a Quack, and Not Ducking the Question, Either
It's not a strictly realastic comic. It's not like most of Pekar's stuff in
that way. I think he mixes dialouge- real scenes and abstact drawings together
really well. So I don't think it loses anything with the cartoony side a part
of it. The fake name and the duck work okay. In a lot of other comics it would
be out of place but I don't see it as out of place here
I will take your word for it, mainly because I don't really want to
get into it deeply, and no one else is interested in reading *that*
I still maintain that a discipline that produces practitioners
incapable of remembering that fever is one of the symptoms of scarlet
fever has some ... issues, medically speaking.
> Chiropractic has its place too, when used for the right reasons.
I don't doubt it; I have friends whose judgment I trust who swear by
their chiropractors. (I also have acquaintances who barely have two
neurons to rub together who swear by their chiropractors. Whatever.)
But the ones who try to apply their training in musculoskeletal
disorders and their treatment to any and all diseases and injuries
I've already commented on the strip directly, but I have two more
1. I am pretty sure the quote in "Acknowledgements" is by Jacques
Derrida. In fact, writing-as-betrayal is a recurrent theme in
his essays. (Personally, I don't buy it, but whatever.) I'm
no Derrida expert, but am acquainted with a flaky academic type
who has written journal articles on Derrida and what I will call
"the Derridans." If he is still speaking to me since I expressed
my glee (and I do mean glee) over L'Affaire Sokal, I'll see
whether I can dig up a specific reference. I am mentioning it
in a post because maybe I'll spark a memory in another racs-er
and we can get it that much quicker.
If I am correct, you may keep your $10 prize, but I would
cheerfully accept a signed copy of the book when you publish it, as
you surely must one day.
2. You haven't said whether the end of the story has been "written,"
as it were. Probably this was deliberate, and I'm being crass as
all hell for even asking, but what the hey. Is your mom still
with us? And how has the rest of your family reacted to the
> Thanks, gang. As I add chapters in the coming months, I'm sure I
> will appeal to you again. If you like it, tell a friend.
[Okay, three things.]
I will tell many, I promise.
> Mike Peterson <pete...@spamnelliebly.org> wrote re the duck (which is in
> danger of becoming a red herring):
> > But this simply breaks flow. If someone has a defense that goes beyond "I
> > like ducks," lay it on me.
> I did that already. Evidently it didn't register on your worthiness
> meter, so I'll just direct you to Bill Lentz's response to your challenge.
I'm suprised at the Deacon. You'd think anything that furthers the
"cartoon ducks are incompetent frickwads" meme oughtta be alright with
him. Eventually, we'll be able to google for "cartoon duck" and get
links about cluelessness, in much the same fashion that Googling on
"miserable failure" brings up a page about GITrekker's hero.
> Also, how can something that appears in the second installment "break[s]
> the flow"? To me, it alerts the reader that the following 40+
> installments are deeply colored by the artist's impressions -- and, as we
> all know, foreshadowing is the yadda yadda yadda.
For me, the reader enjoyment of the joke is reason enough. And the fact
that some people don't get it just makes it that much more fun (if that
is the right word in this context, to say nothing of "joke" and
"enjoyment") to get it on first glance.
€ It's a work in progress. There may be other characters portrayed in
similarly surreal ways. (ROT-13 to preserve Brian's creative process
intact) N ubzrbcngu cbegenlrq nf n wnpxnff frrzf bar cbffvovyvgl.
€ The context lends itself to the surreal. In some ways, the
superheroes sequence and the Operation tableau were odder than the
ducktor. I haven't heard any complaints about those: could the duck
have paved the way so that those felt less jarring?
The thing is, we're solidly in the realm of opinion here. Brian's got a
couple of perfessional editor types here on opposite poles of the duck
issue, so I'm thinking whatever he decides is probably defensible.
> Not a Quack, and Not Ducking the Question, Either
I think the question is rather a canard, but time will teal.
I (really) used to be a perfessional editor type -- not bad for an
illiterate, eh? -- but I got better.
I have contributed to racs for five years and cartooned for 30. When do I
get to stop being a Newbie?
> There's been some cancer in my family, but I got shielded from it. I am
> glad I never had to live this. (I was orphaned by the time I was 33.
> Exactly at age 33, as a matter of fact.)
> I know you have a life, and I suspect this doesn't turn out well, but
> when can we expect to see more? Please tell us when you add more chapters.
I appreciate the invitation. The work goes slowly. I hope to have more done
within a few weeks, but finishing the entire story I have planned could take
the rest of the year. I'm about to send another post elsewhere discussing
the story's resolution, but in brief I think it'll turn out better than
you'd expect. Thanks again.
> I have contributed to racs for five years and cartooned for 30. When do I
> get to stop being a Newbie?
Now. Or earlier. Or whenever you wanted it to be.
This is for sure, though: you can't ever be one again.
The Duck. I'm surprised this is such a hang-up. Obviously, the Duck was one
of those things that made sense in my head and possibly nowhere else. First,
let me say that I intended only to call this particular osteopath a quack,
not smear the entire profession. Second, as much as I like the visual
metaphor, I'm going to think very hard about losing the Duck. The
incongruity stops too many people, calls too much attention to itself,
interrupts the story I'm trying to tell. For that reason alone, even if the
metaphor is defensible, I may be better off without it.
The End. I *intended* to remain very coy about the story's resolution. Who
wants to give away the ending of a cliff-hanger? However, I've received so
much sympathy and good wishes that I'd feel quite a fraud if I didn't fess
up some. In fact, the most recent events depicted in "Mom's Cancer" happened
six to eight months ago, and Mom is still alive and doing much, much better.
She beat odds that were stacked 95% against her. Right now she may be in
remission--nobody is using the word "cure"--and it's a matter of keeping a
close eye on her and jumping on anything that comes up. Cancer could still
roar back and take her quickly, and probably will eventually. But until
then, she's started living again after a long year-and-a-half of hell.
For a long time I thought I was telling a story about Death. It turned out
to be a story about Hope. That story's almost as good... Maybe better.
Thank you all again, and please keep the comments coming.
>>> The name "Impressive Hospital" doesn't work for me
>It's not a strictly realastic comic. It's not like most of Pekar's stuff in
>that way. I think he mixes dialouge- real scenes and abstact drawings together
>really well. So I don't think it loses anything with the cartoony side a part
>of it. The fake name and the duck work okay. In a lot of other comics it would
>be out of place but I don't see it as out of place here
Yep, I like both of those.
The Osteopath in question was certainly a quack. The style is open to
other influences so that a duck, a couple of games, or a digression
into a super-heroe comic is not inappropriate.
If you are going to use a generic name make it really generic.
Impressive Hospital describes it and telegraphs it generic-ness. You
won't run into the Ecumena/Humana problem that St Elsewhere ran into
way back when.
I like the strip and found it riveting. This really needs to
published in a dead tree edition when you have finished with it.
My wife's aunt died of Brain Cancer last year and she had smoked way
too long. She had a six month remission that turned on her shortly
before she died.
Thanks for the good work.
John Duncan Yoyo
Brought to you by the Binks for Senate campaign comittee.
Coruscant is far, far away from wesa on Naboo.
>Eva Whitley <e...@evawhitley.net> wrote:
>> I am gobsmacked by this.
>What a good term for it. Did you invent it?
A quick history is at http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-gob1.htm
This is traced back to the eighties although I's swear I heard it
> [...] as much as I like the visual
> metaphor, I'm going to think very hard about losing the Duck. The
> incongruity stops too many people, calls too much attention to itself,
> interrupts the story I'm trying to tell. For that reason alone, even if the
> metaphor is defensible, I may be better off without it.
Trust the force, Luke. You wanted it there to begin with; keep it. It
works, it fits, it abides. Don't knuckle under to the pablum proponents.
And that is the issue -- the fact that we're talking about the duck and not
the lack of diagnosis. As I said, the Samuel Johnson dictum of striking out
anything you think is particularly fine applies -- and you've said it
perfectly -- calls too much attention to itself, interrupts the flow, stops
too many people.
I can't tell you how many times I've started a piece with the perfect
metaphor or a phrase that absolutely sets the scene and then run into wall
after wall ... deadline looms and the thing just won't come together ... and
the solution is to delete that wonderful paragraph that is showy and
fabulous and keeps the rest of the piece from working properly. Fitzgerald
kept a journal of clever little paragraphs that never got into anything he
actually wrote. I don't know if he really expected to use them someday, or
was just too sentimental to throw them out. But when your mission is to
communicate, sometimes you have to step back from a chance to be "creative,"
if it is interfering.
That said, if he were first introduced as human, then, as the narrative went
on, were portrayed as a duck, it might work. Or if the narrative said, "None
of us could believe Mom didn't see this guy for what he was ..." it might
work -- but, to answer the question of why I didn't balk at other metaphors
... at the Operation-spoofing point, we're clearly deep into the narrator's
metaphorical stream ... here, we are, despite the first-person narration, in
a third-person omniscient POV and that intermingling flow of
events/commentary hasn't been established.
That's not just because it's early in the comic -- it's because the narrator
is not fully engaged. And rightfully, brilliantly, so -- we see that, when
the news of Mom's medical issue begins to unfold, his first reaction is that
it's no big deal ... because, so far, it's not .... only as the seriousness
of the problem becomes obvious does he begin to engage on that level.
Again, to go back to Maus, the reason for the animal characters is to
distance the reader from events too horrible to portray in a straightforward
manner. And there are places in this narrative where things that have to be
said about (beloved) family members or moments of personal anguish need to
be expressed in metaphor. But remember that Maus begins with the scene in
which Artie is playing with his friends as a young boy and his father turns
a normal childhood event into a rant about life -- at that point, he
establishes for the reader that his entire life has been dominated by his
father's experience in the war, preparing us for what is to come. The
continual interplay between father and son is more than 50 percent of the
story, and the need for metaphor is established by the overwhelming pain and
distance established right from the start.
By contrast, this story begins in normalcy and increasingly difficult as it
progresses. It's a different storytelling technique because it's a different
story -- when Speigelman "meets" his father, Vladek is already a survivor of
the camps and the story is an attempt to find out how this experience shaped
him, and, subsequently, their entire relationship. With Brian's narration,
the story is about how a normal relationship becomes overturned by events
that start up later. If Vladek's first wife were telling the story of Maus,
it might be more like this ... she'd begin with their dating and then show
how things fell apart ...
Enough. I think Brian's got some stuff to chew on and I'll leave it here ...
if the duck hadn't been there in the first place, we wouldn't be talking
about a sense of something missing. If the osteopath had been portrayed as a
befuddled goof, or a holistic, ponytailed true believer, or as someone too
busy to really give a damn, we'd have all come away knowing she got bad
advice ... and I think it could have happened in a sense that would still
deliver the message of rage against someone who was trusted and who (the
narrator believes) could have nipped the problem in the bud by simply being
more on top of things.
>>I'm usually very short with people with people using this NG as a way to
>>garner praise for their strips. (Everyone *says* they want constructive
>>criticism, but the folks who press their manuscripts on my DH--he's a
>>writer, he's written over 60 books--just want praise. You'll forgive me
>>if I've become cynical about newbies.)
>>But I am gobsmacked by this. You have a lovely, clean style, with
>>interesting layouts (the game board, the Operation game send-up, the
>>superheroes) and the characters are so true to life. And I'm a sucker
>>for artistic allusions.
> Thank you very much for the kind words. I've been a writer for 20 years and
> long ago learned to separate my ego from my work (to whatever degree that's
> possible). I've had the pleasure of writing for good editors who knew the
> knack of tearing apart work without malice to make it better, and the sooner
> I got over my hurt feelings the better I got. Though I admit that such
> separation is more difficult on such a personal project, when I asked for
> criticism I meant it.
> I have contributed to racs for five years and cartooned for 30. When do I
> get to stop being a Newbie?
Then I wasn't clear, forgive me. I don't think you're a newbie but I
think that term applies to the folks who discover this NG, and come in
(as a first post) (I quasi-quote here) "Tell me what you think of my
comic strip!" and are insulted if it isn't praised to the skies.
I also wonder about the folks who want my DH to critique their
manuscripts. Jack has only edited one anthology, and that was years ago.
If he liked their work, what could he possibly do? His agent is turning
away clients, and he has problems getting to look at his stuff, let
alone someone else's. --Eva Whitley
Thank you for sharing.
> I assume that Power Puff Girls and the Operation Game are registered
> trademarks -- maybe disguise them a little?
Power Puff Girls might be a problem, but I think the use of Operation would
be protected as parody or satire. Its dead-on duplication of the image on
the game is part of its remarkable effectiveness; like so many of the images
(falling into a sea of 'cancer words', the superhero personas of the
siblings ["invisible girl" is a master stroke]) it visually 'clicks'
immediately, followed by a much more closer inspection revealing layers of
information and meaning, and I'd hate to see it altered.
> For me, the reader enjoyment of the joke is reason enough. And the fact
> that some people don't get it just makes it that much more fun
Hey, I represent that remark!
> ? It's a work in progress. There may be other characters portrayed in
> similarly surreal ways. (ROT-13 to preserve Brian's creative process
> intact) N ubzrbcngu cbegenlrq nf n wnpxnff frrzf bar cbffvovyvgl.
Fair 'nuff. (I did feel jolted at that first appearance, though, and was
reporting a response, basically.)
> ? The context lends itself to the surreal. In some ways, the
> superheroes sequence and the Operation tableau were odder than the
> ducktor. I haven't heard any complaints about those: could the duck
> have paved the way so that those felt less jarring?
As you note later in your post, we are indeed solidly in the realm of
opinion. I don't even think we're debating "the duck should go" vs. "the
duck should stay", because this is clearly, *intensely* and personally
Brian's work and the most we can do is stand around and go, "wow". If Brian
decides that Mom's hair should be coloured pink throughout, it can't be "the
wrong decision" if he knows it isn't. I can only report my reaction in terms
which are totally unscientific, , and the best I can do to (poorly) explain
my reaction is, when I see one talking animal in a strip, something in me is
programmed to expect others, and if I don't, a little place in the back of
my mind is wondering why. When I see an "Operation" game or characters
dressed in costume it's not a theme I expect to see repeated. It appears to
be some cultural expectation I wasn't even aware of until now.
The arguments - sorry, points, this is not an argument - in favour of the
duck have enlightened me and I do see the points those people raise. I
haven't been completely swayed, but I now see the merits of either decision.
I'm offline so can't check your link right now, but I've heard it my entire
life and assumed it was one of the many English words that made their way
years ago into Newfoundland English. (Some date from the 1590s settlement,
such as "flankers" for sparks from a fire, or "chimbley" for chimney, or
"hummocks" for little hills in the grass or in a bog. Discovering my first
OED was quite an eye-opener for me, as I realized the dialect the rest of
Canada snickered at was chock-full of Shakespearean era English.)
I would've actually called him a "regular" or at least a "semi-regular".
Maybe that's only because I take special notice his username every time he
posts - every time I see it the theme song from a 1980s Beef-a-Roni ad plays
in my head...
"We're havin' Beef-a-Roni!
Beef and macaroni!
Beef-a-Roni's full of meat,
Beef-a-Roni's fun to eat,
HooRAAY for Beef-a-Roni!"
And that reminds me of (to the tune of "Oranges and Lemons":
"At lunchtime the bell tolls,
Spaghetti and Meat Balls,
for you and for me,
from Chef Boy-ar-dee!"
It was a sad time to be a child, culturally, the 80s.
>Mom is still alive and doing much, much better.
That's the *third* time you've made me cry in two days. I read the faq on
the site, and misunderstood your response to the people sending you
suggestions for therapy to mean that Mom was already gone. This is a
surprise and a wonderful one.
Does she have any idea the fuss she's causing among complete strangers? :)
For that matter - and don't answer if you don't want to - do she, Nurse Sis
and Little Sis even know this has been written so far, and if so have they
read it? (If the answer to both questions is "yes", I'm not even going to
ask their reaction, I'd rather leave it to you to decide if you even wish to
"Mike Peterson" <pete...@SPAMnelliebly.org> wrote in message
"Anthony Myers" <anthony...@wmconnect.comhormel> wrote in message
Not to belabor the duck thing -- well, okay, to belabor it: That scene
seems to be the only instance in the work where "fantasy" interacts
directly with the "real" world. I think that's why it seems out of place
to some readers.
Slight change of subject: the site seems to be suffering under a
word-of-mouth Slashdot-type bandwidth demand load. Not surprising: I've
gotten three multiply forwarded copies of a note J. D. sent out to his
various lists of friends.
Congrats on tapping into the Zeitgeist, Brian. I think you need to find
a publisher ã stat.
>"John Duncan Yoyo" <john-dun...@cox.net> wrote in message
>> On Sat, 1 May 2004 01:27:31 +0000 (UTC), Sherwood Harrington
>> <sherw...@spamrahul.net> wrote:
>> >Eva Whitley <e...@evawhitley.net> wrote:
>> >> I am gobsmacked by this.
>> >What a good term for it. Did you invent it?
>> A quick history is at http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-gob1.htm
>> This is traced back to the eighties although I'd swear I heard it
>> before that.
>I'm offline so can't check your link right now, but I've heard it my entire
>life and assumed it was one of the many English words that made their way
>years ago into Newfoundland English. (Some date from the 1590s settlement,
>such as "flankers" for sparks from a fire, or "chimbley" for chimney, or
>"hummocks" for little hills in the grass or in a bog. Discovering my first
>OED was quite an eye-opener for me, as I realized the dialect the rest of
>Canada snickered at was chock-full of Shakespearean era English.)
There is an island in virginia where that is true as well. If it
wasn't for the english diaspora we would be speaking a boring
I'm annoyed that Google seems to have lost it's tie to dictionary.com.
I actually have to google up definitions the hard way.
By the way, your drawing style reminds me a bit of Bob Clarke in "Mad" (not
1950s, but his cleaner style in 1970s), which I hope you consider a
=v= This is excellent. I would only change one thing, and it's
in the realm of copyediting: "Li'l Sis" instead of "L'il Sis."
(The later makes me think of "L'Isle de France.")
> Power Puff Girls might be a problem, but I think the use of
> Operation would be protected as parody or satire.
=v= I think both are "fair use" for copyright purposes, but
trademark law is messier. It'll probably require a coupla "TM"
notices on the title page.
=v= Oh, and "Li'l Sis" is a copyrighted character in this comic:
I think this varies quite a bit, State-to-State. Where I'm from, DOs are
licensed to do anything an MD can do, including brain surgery. But, the last
I did any half-baked research on the subject, it seemed to me they were more
limited in other States, more like chiropractors both in reputation and in
> For that matter - and don't answer if you don't want to - do she, Nurse
> and Little Sis even know this has been written so far, and if so have they
> read it? (If the answer to both questions is "yes", I'm not even going to
> ask their reaction, I'd rather leave it to you to decide if you even wish
> address it.)
Let's just say that their levels of awareness and satisfaction vary. I'm
working on it :-)
Thanks for everything, ronniecat.
Like most of you (I think it's fair to say), in these situations I speak up
if I'm really favorably impressed, or I stay in lurk mode if I can't say
As to Beefies, I've seen him on the other side of this kind of
communication, when I posted the link to my humble, strictly amateur cartoon
Christmas card collection (and hey folks, if you missed it in the holiday
rush, that URL is http://home.earthlink.net/~tfkerin/ccards/cards.htm ).
His response was thoughtful and interesting, especially from a technical
viewpoint, as he mused about the history of desktop publishing from his own
experience -- the kind of detail that is always interesting to a cartoonist.
So, to say the least, he has earned the right to ask the same feedback from
others, and I thank him for posting here. His latest work is a gem.
One more time: the FAQ is not silent on this subject, although the
comment is buried at the end of the answer to a different question:
Q. What about selling stuff here?
A. The overall FAQ for the rec.arts.comics hierarchy firmly assigns
"[a]ny post offering to buy, sell or auction (eBay users take note)
anything comics related" exclusively to rac.marketplace; they mean it,
and so do we. However single announcements of forthcoming commercial
products of interest are unlikely to provoke return fire particularly
if brief; include a web pointer for more information. And we *like*
to hear about new strips, although repetitive advertising will probably
draw more abuse than pageviews.
My sense is that this accurately reflects the predominant attitude here
- am I wrong?
Mark Jackson - http://www.alumni.caltech.edu/~mjackson
If we had cloned Saddam, we could capture him over and over
whenever we felt bad about the situation in Iraq.
- Sylvia (Nicole Hollander)
You do not wrongly reflect my attitude, although I think some other folks
here are more touchy than I am about anything with even the slightest whiff
of self-publicizing. I don't fault them for wanting to keep the group more
about discussion than about spam, but I wouldn't change the FAQ, which
strikes a good balance.