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Wistful, Ludicrous, And Bleak– And All From The Same Assignment

July 10, 2014

The Rumpus publishes a mix of essays and interviews. It’s an online-only publication.

For me, a Rumpus assignment is always a stretch. Some of the material is very dark. It takes me out of my comfort zone.

My latest Rumpus assignment: an essay titled Strong Is The New Sexy, written by a woman with a degenerative muscle disease.

The essay opens with the author in a hospital room. A physical therapist is teaching her how to swallow. Through the window she can see brightly colored hang gliders soaring through the air after casting off from a mountain.

It conjured up this image for me:

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Little worm on rock gazing up with envy at beautiful butterflies hovering and soaring in the sky above him

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Here’s a close-up:

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detail image of little worm on rock gazing up with envy at beautiful butterflies hovering and soaring in the sky above him

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Further along in the essay, the author writes that sipping water can seem more trouble than it’s worth. That to a weakened arm, “a bottle of spring water is as hard to raise as a dumbbell.”

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Skinny woman in gym workout clothes red in face and straining to lift barbell whose weights are two big jugs of spigot water and faucet water with goldfish swimming in them

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Here’s a detail image. I’ve read more than once that a lot of bottled water is simply tap water. I couldn’t resist sneaking in an editorial comment. I must admit, however,
I’ve never seen a goldfish in a bottle of store-bought water.

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detail image of skinny woman in gym workout clothes red in face and straining to lift barbell whose weights are two big jugs of spigot water and faucet water with goldfish swimming in them

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Finally, the therapist “handwrites recommendations on jaunty yellow paper, warns me against the use of straws for sipping.”

This made me think of the idiom “grasping (or clutching) at straws,” which can be defined as trying to find some way to succeed when nothing is likely to work.

Progressive diseases worsen over time. It seemed bitterly ironic to me that straws should
be forbidden (even though it made perfect medical sense, since sucking water through a straw would likely make the woman choke).

All of which conjured up this very bleak image:

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Sign on buoy in ocean says grasping at straws is prohibited, drowned woman in bikini sinking down into murky depths as straws float on surface of water

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For me, the most affecting note in the illustration is that straws were available to the drowning woman, but grasping at them was prohibited.

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detail image of sign on buoy in ocean says grasping at straws is prohibited, drowned woman in bikini sinking down into murky depths as straws float on surface of water

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Do you think the darkly comic element in the illustrations gives them added poignancy?

Did you know there was such a thing as Butterfly Envy?

Ever found anything swimming in your pure and natural bottled spring water??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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Busker The Street Musician Prepares For An Explosive 4th of July

July 1, 2014

Time to call Busker–everyone’s favorite street musician– back for an encore.

I drew Busker for about three years, back in the 90’s. Most of the gags involved Busker playing his saxophone, but occasionally he’d have a non-musical adventure.

This particular gag was for American Independence Day, July 4th, also known here simply as The Fourth. Fireworks are a big part of our 4th of July celebrations. Here in New Hampshire, you can buy some pretty high-grade firepower at outlet stores.

Do I shoot off fireworks myself? No. I’m an illustrator. I only blow up things on paper.

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Panel 1 of Busker the Street Musician 4th of July comic strip, guy lighting cigar, throws match away, match lands on fuse leading to huge armful of fireworks being carried away from fireworks outlet store by Busker

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Panel 2 of Busker the Street Musician 4th of July comic strip, guy lighting cigar, throws match away, match lands on fuse leading to huge armful of fireworks being carried away from fireworks outlet store by Busker

 

Panel 3 of Busker the Street Musician 4th of July comic strip, guy lighting cigar, throws match away, match lands on fuse leading to huge armful of fireworks being carried away from fireworks outlet store by Busker

 

Panel 4 of Busker the Street Musician 4th of July comic strip, guy lighting cigar, throws match away, match lands on fuse leading to huge armful of fireworks being carried away from fireworks outlet store by Busker

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Do you attend fireworks displays? Do you always forget to bring bug repellent??

Ever shot off any fireworks yourself? If so, do you still have all your body parts??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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If you enjoyed this post, please click the Like button below.

If you’d like to share this post with others, please click Tweet or Facebook or StumbleUpon or one of the other Share buttons.

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