So I was watching an episode of Adventure Time called “The Jiggler” (spoiler alert!) where Jake and Finn unwittingly lure a baby creature away from its mother and take it home with them. The baby soon gets sick and basically starts puking blood. Instead of getting help for the poor thing they ultimately decide that all they need to do is plug the hole it’s puking from but the creature has multiple holes on its body it can puke from so they resort to using their collections of glass eyes and eye patches to plug all the holes in an attempt to stop the puking. This was very troubling to me since my abusive fuckhead father had worn a glass eye when he was younger and by the time I knew him always wore an eye patch. So here Jake and Finn have sacrificed their precious collections in a effort to “save” this baby. Moments before the young creature explodes from their gross mistreatment of it, they show a shot of it as a quivering mass with glass eyes shoved into its holes and eye patches strapped around its body, sitting in a puddle of its own puke-blood while still slowly leaking more puke-blood from its many plugged holes. Needless to say, I was more than a little disturbed at this point. When the creature explodes it doesn’t die. Instead, puke-blood goes everywhere and it gets all stretched out like a big rubbery noodle. So now our intelligent heroes panic and decide to gather up the sick, exploded, noodle baby into a pile and just smash it all back together as if it were just a bunch of modeling clay. Maybe I was taking things a little too seriously but by this point I was a little horrified and experienced a legitimate stress response in my gut. Miraculously, smashing the baby back together using brute force doesn’t kill it and after all the kidnapping, abuse and attempted murder they eventually return the baby to its mother.
Now, while I’m a both a fan and creator of disturbing imagery and have great respect and admiration for anyone who can effectively illustrate the weird and stupid things that can happen in a surrealistic dream-like state (pretty much the core of what Adventure Time is about), this particular episode really hit just a tad too close to home for me. Anyway, long story short: I watched “The Jiggler” and afterwards I drew the image you see above.
When I finished this it reminded me of the fact that I spent entirely too much time as a grade-schooler listening to and staring at Pink Floyd albums. You’d figure my parents would’ve at least made me wait until I was a teenager before allowing me to consume and memorize things like The Wall. I guess it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, you can’t say that experiences like this run the risk of making you boring.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten planking out of my system, we can get back to bidness. Here’s some pencil from my late teens. The original is noticeably lighter than what you see here. When I was fiddling around with this post-scan I hit ye olde auto-adjust on the colors and everything just popped. It really brought out all the original detail from this old drawing so I ran with it.
As for content, methinks this has something to do with an artwork I often stared at as a kid in California. It was in this book called The Mind my parents had in the living room. The artwork in question was a painting done by a schizophrenic depicting their skull split open lying in a grassy field and you could see different compartments inside. Each compartment showed scenes, memories, abuse, insecurities and the like from their life experiences. I remember being obsessed with that book and that painting in particular. As for my drawing, the head seems hollow with all the interesting stuff on the outside. Perhaps the inside was gutted by fire, as there are some small flames still burning.
Here’s some more of my drawing backstory from high school. Strong dad influences in this one (and, for some reason, a dash of Marlon Brando). Also some beastman type stuff going on in there, probably from watching too many episodes of Manimal.
Anyway, my dad got one of his eyes shot out with a bee-bee gun as a kid. He apparently had a glass eye for a while when he was younger but by the time I knew him he was sporting an eye patch. That combined with his dark, curly hair gave him a decidedly pirate look. Thinking about it now, he would’ve looked much more awesome if he’d had a semi-translucent plate riveted over his bad eye, as pictured above. Would’ve given him a much cooler, cyborg, road warrior look.
I guess most any artist can claim to have wrestled with depression in their life. It would be a little naive to think I’m somehow unique for having had the experience. I guess what I’m driving at is that depression has always been a point of interest for me. I can remember having feelings of frustration, futility and anger as early as grade school when I would fly into angry crying fits when my mother discovered I had once again not done my homework. Sheets and sheets of repetitive arithmetic homework assignments. Concepts I had mastered in the classroom and didn’t need to practice at home. It drove me crazy.
From that beginning I was well on my way to having a lifelong dance with depression. I was eventually tested it was determined I was “gifted”, whatever that means. Gifted students are supposed to be frustrated with the standard curriculum and all they supposedly need is something more to challenge them and make them feel satisfied with their education and not bored out of their minds. I didn’t want more, I wanted less. More specifically, I wanted to be left alone, left to my own devices. Later, this feeling became so strong I took a whole year off from high school, barely showing up half the time. In the end, it took me five full years to graduate (and just barely) with the aid of an extra correspondence course to complete the required amount of course credits.
The only reason I even attempted college was due to my interest in being an artist and the temporary optimism I had gained from pulling myself together enough to graduate high school. I lasted about two semesters before my old habits started to kick in. I quickly tired of doing assignments where I had to draw this or sculpt that. I was learning techniques but my heart wasn’t in it. I did have some sincere enthusiasm for the ceramics classes I took but the professor I kind of connected with soon retired. The other professor was much more interested in his own career and didn’t give a damn about you unless you kissed his ass or were popular enough to be in his little clique of friends at the local coffee shop. All in all, a very discouraging experience for a young man who desperately needed encouragement.
Nowadays, the depression has simply become a part of me. There was a time when I thought I was fighting it but now I simply keep company with it. I use it as a shield against the unforgiving reality we all share. Some say that I might be mentally ill and should seek help but I personally think that anger and depression are appropriate responses to a corrupt and uncompassionate society.
More high school stuff. I’m not sure if this one is a self-portrait. It’s definitely not all me. My dad is in there (note the one good eye) along with some KISS makeup. I was a really into KISS as a child. Ran around with the makeup on and two belts crisscrossed on my bare chest. Even had the KISS colorforms set! Man, those were the days.