Thanks for indulging me – I mostly think the funny misshapen things are far more interesting than the perfectly formed things. This comic was prompted by all the little ideas that had been irritating my brain, but hadn’t formed into proper comics yet. The proper comics will come but they need more time! I am working on a longer comic at the moment – one that the kids can read (no swearing! No nudity!) and I think that is also getting in the way of me writing a comic this week. I am such a serial monogamist when it comes to creative work.
Following up on reviews, I got a lovely celebrity endorsement this week:
“In Mansfield and Me you will find many pretty things: landscapes and flowers and historical literary figures. You will also find birth, sex, blood, rock and punk, artistic rejection, motherhood and mercilessly real depictions of relationships.”
Adrian Kinnaird also reviewed M&M on his NZ comics blog, From Earth’s End.
“It’s a remarkable ode to creativity and a personal journey to achieving one’s ambitions. If you love great memoirs and want to experience one that’s a bit unconventional but highly entertaining, this is the one for you.”
And here’s one by Melinda Johnston, over on The Spinoff.
“The struggle to find a place in the world, to reconcile sexual identity, and to find a working balance between ambition and everyday reality are all successfully realised.”
Like I say, nice reviews, no declarations of my genius, dammit, but I suppose there’s always the next book. Or else I can recognise my desire for validation as a sick addiction that I have to let go of!
When I started this comic, the world was engulfed in fog and it was raining horizontally. I have proof over on my Instagram account! But now it’s sunny, albeit windy. Four seasons in one day! Wellington has made me a weather bore. And how can that man not believe in climate change?
I was reminded of this particular repressive trait this week, when Bill English took a phone call from Donald Trump and reported that he did not upset Trump at all, and they chatted amiably for 15 minutes. English did mention that he had some concerns over the U.S. immigration policies, but climate change never came up. He seemed so proud of his restraint, but was this something to be proud of? I am always alarmed at how ferocious New Zealanders are inside their cars, how if you cut in front of them they will scream and swear and contort, completely out of proportion to the misdemenour. They are encased in metal and glass, a smooth glinting exterior – you can’t hear a word of what they’re saying – but inside they’re going mental, flecking their windscreen with spittle.
I fact-checked this comic after I drew it, and although this is my memory of events, my mother tells it differently. Her mother did finally admit that Nana had hung herself, 7 years after the event. My mother knew at 9 – “little pigs have big ears” – but her parents denied it. What she learnt from her aunt almost 30 years later was the reality of living with bipolar disorder. Nana would be depressed, or elated, spending way too much money on goods that my grandmother would have to secretly return. Nana drank too much, Grandad kept a fancy woman in Whanganui. Nana left him and had to work as a housekeeper. They were Catholic – this was a big deal. My grandmother kept this all a secret from her children. Such things were the family shame, not to be talked about.
Right now I’m reading Michael Chabon’s hybrid novel/memoir, Moonglow. It took me a while to get into, but I’m fascinated by how memoir bleeds into novel writing, and how so much of a life can be invented and embellished. I’m also fascinated by how a particular understanding of a person turns out to be a lie, and how that realisation almost unhinges the project, but ultimately Chabon decides to continue. I am always excited when my mother tells me stuff about my family that seems like a novel, but then somehow I never quite remember it right, and the novelistic details of lives compound, crystallising themselves into something entirely new.
Also, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Every little bit helps!
Do you guys feel this way? Like every time you look at the news or Twitter or Facebook it feels like the world is on fire, and more terrible things are happening? And like it’s really hard to figure out ways to make it stop or to make things better? I took Gus off to the Wellington branch of the Women’s March on 21 January, but it was small in comparison to the international marches, and nobody seemed to know what we were protesting against. Still, it felt good to take part in an historic moment, even if the real historic moment happened the next day in another country.
ActionStation have very helpfully made a list of things we can do to help refugees – I’ve done number 1 and 2, which are quite easy.
A strange lassitude has overtaken me these holidays – I have become used to doing not very much. Every day I try and order the house a little, instilling systems so that it will remain tidy for the rest of the year, but somehow it remains disordered. I found a box of old photographs and managed to put the best ones in an album, but I still haven’t labelled them, nor have I managed to throw the bad photos out. I am no good at minimalism.
Another despatch from the school holiday trenches… I totally sympathise with Otto, of course. I went through an equally self-conscious phase. Not only were my parents a huge embarrassment, I was also supremely uncomfortable in my body and felt like everyone was looking at how mistakenly I was put together. The difference, of course, was that I grew up pre-internet and gaming. I even grew up without a TV, although I used to hang out at my neighbour’s to watch all the shows I was missing. The worlds inside games are so very compelling and so much more dramatic than our suburban surroundings. And in case you’re wondering, that Team Fortress 2 he’s playing. God they’re good at perspective drawing in those games!
Of course, I do have this regret – why does he not want to read books? I read him so many when he was young, and his bookshelf is stuffed. Why does he not want to go skateboarding, draw comics or hang out with his friends in real life? I am reminded of something my mother used to say – how she imagined, when she had a son, that he would wear waistcoats and play the violin. My brother never wanted to play the violin. And our children don’t always turn out the way we imagine they might.