Monthly Archives: June 2019

Childhood Fort

When I was about eight or nine, the neighborhood kids and I built a fort made from items we found in a pile of junk not far from my house. It contained discarded construction materials like lumber and corrugated tin, some broken household appliances, tires, scrap iron, and other suitable materials that a group of boys could work with.

I was one of the younger kids involved in the project so I was elected as the one to test our fort’s strength against attack. I sat in the fort while the bigger kids hurled dirt clods at me. As it turned out, the fort was not a good defense at all against dirt clods and I caught one in the eye. I came out bawling and was certain that my eye was a useless pile of mush.

They continued improving the fort, while my mom doctored me up, and fortunately, I suffered no permanent damage.  This incident would have happened a couple of years before I was diagnosed with myopia and have been a wearer of eyeglasses ever since. I’m not sure if wearing eyeglasses would have made things better or worse in the fort incident.

I don’t know who the next “guinea pig” was, but I didn’t serve as a “fort tester” going forward with our building project.

Cartooning Week 3

I’m falling behind on my cartooning efforts. I made these drawings for the first assignment in Week 3 of Brunetti’s cartooning book last weekend, but haven’t had a chance to reflect or write on them until this morning.

For Exercise 3.1 Brunetti says to draw 12 scenes on notecards with prompts he gives like “beginning of the world” “end of the world” “something that happened at lunchtime” “an image from a recent dream” “something that happened early this morning” “something happened right after that” and so on.

These are drawn on notecards in order to facilitate arranging the scenes into a four-panel sequence noting the type of narrative you prefer, what visual elements connect the scenes, breaks in the narrative, reordering the scenes and so forth. According to Brunetti, “the haiku-like rigidity of the four-panel structure allows us quite a flexible starting point.”

One of my favorite sequences was “something that happened early this morning.” We spent the night in a hotel for my daughter’s softball tournament. I woke up in a panic because she wasn’t in her bed. I found her sleeping on the floor. All the while, her mother was sound asleep, oblivious to my panic over our missing child.

I wasn’t really able to make a four-panel sequence using that, as I only drew three scenes of it. But I did rather like the nightmare sequence of the person falling, the D-Day invasion, the asteroid falling towards the earth and the person in bed sleeping. I think that one worked with the sleeping person either at the end or the beginning of the sequence.

I think the ideas are connected by being nightmarish scenes, then the relief that they are only dreams. When I compared my 11 cards (I didn’t get the 12th one made) with Brunetti’s example in the book, I noticed that each of his panels (except one with an animal character) featured a person in it, whereas mine did not always prominently feature a character.

The other thing I noticed is his style of drawing characters with simple geometric shapes and background elements gives a consistency of visual elements in every panel. I don’t really have anything like that. He draws a line for the ground in every single scene. Many of mine have straight line elements, but some do not. He also uses a circle in the background in most of his panels, either a light fixture, the sun, or stars and planets in the futuristic scenes. This gives his work a distinctive and recognizable quality to it. He’s found his visual “voice” whereas it seems I’m still searching for mine.

Claude Rickley and WWII

WWII soldier medals

My grandpa Claude Rickley was a proud soldier of WWII. He was a member of the 11th Armored Division and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He rarely talked about his experiences in the war but I know he saw some awful things, including the victims of the Mauthhausen concentration camp.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, D-Day. My grandpa was already 32 years old in 1944, married with a child. If I remember correctly, his unit gave him the nickname “Pops” because of his age. He didn’t go ashore with the first wave at Normandy. The 11th Armored Division came ashore at Normandy in December of 1944. They fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

It was personally knowing people who fought in WWII that made military service a normal thing to do in my mind. I was eager to join the service as a young man and wear our country’s uniform. I was surprised to learn later on that not everyone has such warm feelings about it. One mentor I once had even advised me not to make too much of my military service if I hoped to be successful since not everyone has a positive opinion about it. That was, and frankly still is, confusing to me.

Living the life I’ve lived and knowing what I know, I think it is true that no one can fully appreciate the sacrifices that have been made by people like my Grandpa Claude. My own experience, even with the few weeks of combat I experienced in 1991, pales in comparison with those who endured combat in WWII. So if I struggle to conceive of what it was like, imagine what it must be for someone who doesn’t personally know anyone who has served.

I truly hope that we never forget where our freedom comes from and who has bought and paid for it. Today, my thoughts are with those who have served and are currently in the service of our country. I shall never forget.