About a year before she died, my mom went through the boxes and boxes of photos we had collected over the years and began organizing them into photo albums.  She made one album in particular for me.  It collects photos from throughout my childhood—though now and again you’ll find a random photo of her alone as well.  She captioned each one—names, dates, locations, etc. (though what information she chose to include is not consistent—and some of the years listed, I think, are incorrect).

These photos and handwritten captions are the basis of the section I’m working on right now.  At the good suggestion of Paula Knight, I’ve decided to slow down my process.  I’ve been struggling with completing pages and then not being quite happy with what the “finished” page looks like (a panel will seem to be missing—or an image will read differently than it did in my head).  Although I do take notes and have sketched the images before beginning “construction” of a page, these templates aren’t as elaborate as they could be.  Paula suggested that before moving to the art (which is time-consuming and so a little heartbreaking when a page doesn’t hold together right), it might be a good idea to storyboard big “chunks” of the narrative.  I agree.  Too, I think I’m at the stage where I need to see what the “big picture” will look like.

And so today I worked on some of the transition pages—pages that will connect the tree girl narrative to the “conversations with my mother” narrative—that are based upon the photos and captions included in the album my mom had made for me.   I’m not mimicking her handwriting as well as I’d like to—reminds me a little bit of how I not-so-successfully attempted to write notes in her handwriting in order to get out of P.E. class when I was in the sixth grade (I was totally busted!!!).  But these are just storyboards and I may go through at a later stage and scan the actual captions and add her writing to the images digitally.  There is something haunting about seeing the words that she wrote (a couple weeks before her death, she sat with me and, with pen in shaky hand, relabeled all of her pill bottles).  Her handwriting is very curvy and swoopy—kind of like the line that I’m using to represent her.

Here are a few of the sketches.  Still working on the lines and the writing—and I’m planning on cutting the frames out of craft paper to create a layered effect.

photo image image (1)







Drawing Lines

I originally made a version of this set of pages back in October.  As I’m thinking about printing a few of my strips (possibly for a regional comics festival/expo in June!), I returned to this one since it works well on its own.  What do you think?  The printed version will be small … pages measuring probably 4 x 5 inches or so.  I did a pretty crappy/haphazard scan job here (there should be more shading in some of the drawings, for instance).  Sorry!  :-)

Also … this drawing emerged while I was revising the strip.  A little self-portrait that I kind of like.

Small Steps

This memory (based on an experience that happened just a few days before my mom died) is a very tender one for me—tender in terms of endearing, yes, but more in terms of very very soft … painful to the touch .  I still tear up when I see people, strangers, especially strangers, taking small steps.

My mom was a force—incredibly strong-willed, independent, stubborn—and depicting her this vulnerable became a challenge.  Initially, the images looked very different from the way they look now (I completely scrapped the initial set).  Even after I became comfortable with the direction in which I was taking them, I revised several of the words and images (some over and over again).  I’m still not sure if it’s clear; maybe it needs a little more context?

Too, I remain uncomfortable with the limited perspective I’m giving.  I was not my mother’s only (or primary) caregiver, for instance, and do no want to give any false impressions (or piss people off).  But I also do believe that this story is not about comfort—not for me and not for what it has to say about death.  So …

Okay. I am going outside now to enjoy this rare sunny day in Seattle.  :-)