Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Answering to History

Issue #3 of editor and cartoonist
Shing Yin Khor's "Blood Root" anthologies.

 In 2014, I created Jezinkas, a 17-page comics adaptation of a Bohemian folktale about witches who stole people's eyes.  It was in response to a call for intelligent horror stories to be included in Blood Root #3 by Sawdust Press.  Blood Root is a really great anthology and, though the print version is sold out, you can obtain a pay-what-you-want digital download of the book HERE. 

Jezinkas is my only fictional comic in print, to date.  It was fun story to build because I got to draw things like people turning into wolves, owls without eyes and other visually astonishing scenes that don't occur in my life naturally.  The best part, though, was that I didn't have to check and double-check facts, scour and question my memories or consider the impact of my work on people who might be effected by my telling of a real-life story.   

Illustrating Rock History 

Enter comics journalism.  I love the Pacific Northwest's rich music history. When nostalgia drove me to illustrate the building that once housed the OK Hotel, lovers of the now-defunct music venue urged me to draw more.  

Panel from the history comic
of Hollywood's Club Lingerie.

I began interviewing people connected to the OK and drew my first history comic.  It was terrifying because I didn't want to misrepresent anything.  Not all details can be verified.  People had different versions of the same night or notorious story.  I chose to frame episodes as either my own personal take or in the context of "this source said..."

It's how I came to comics.  I created two more venue histories - for Albuquerque's Dingo Bar and Hollywood's Club Lingerie - and now I'm working on an abbreviated comics history of a 4th venue for publication soon.  I haven't been able to reach everyone I wanted to vet, but I'm doing my best to be true to facts and the spirit of the club's history.

My Story Is. . .Well. . .My Story.

Autobiography may share nonfiction status with comics journalism, but I'm coming to it with a little more confidence.

I don't have to research the plot points, for one thing.

Panels from my comic
chronicling the history of the
Chicago Picasso

I will proceed very, very carefully in choosing how to frame where my life intersects with others, though.  And I will never adopt the voice of authority in reporting on historical moments.  There are tragedies in my life, for example, that effected A LOT of people, and everyone involved experienced those events in their own way.  Or, as anyone who has been through a break-up can attest, different people have different views on shared experiences. 

The best thing I know to do is present my story as my story - personally impactful, potentially flawed and ultimately vulnerable.  But I feel that the insights I have encountered are worth sharing, and the story has been pressing me to be told. 

Girl On The Road posts about comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

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