Thursday, September 17, 2009

Seriously, CNN, What Is Wrong with You?

The latest headline-inspired tee from CNN Shirt:

No doubt to be followed by such fun shirts as:

"Sad Mommy and Daddy Orphan Their Kids"
"Malnutrition, Disease, Bullets Kill Refugees"
"Missing Baby Found...Under Floorboards"
"Grandma Sells Dentures to Pay for Food She Can No Longer Chew"
"Puppy Lost Too Many Limbs to Live"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Body Imaging

For a long time I had body issues. My concern about my hair was literally just the tip of the problem.

I didn't like to be nude or even show a glimpse of my naked form. This wasn't only in gym or a body cavity search (I'm making assumptions about the last part) but also in front of a girlfriend. This, obviously, presented more than its share of obstacles and frustrations from time to time.

It's not that I'm fat or too thin or sport some sort of scar or skin tissue irregularity. Surprisingly for an Italian I don't even have hair on my back. But I would think of myself without clothes and conclude, "No, this...this is a mistake. This is not what the people want to see." It's taken some hard but gratifying work for me to realize that I wasn't even looking at my body when I drew these conclusions. My body was my awkward focus point but not the origin. It was just prolonged, dispersed doubt in myself, covering and contaminating every part of me, leading me to want to hide in a myriad of ways. Like the hair concern, it was the result of a mental Mobius strip that I had put into motion a long, long time ago and had eventually given up ever finding its end.

It's hard to break such a circular mind fuck, no more so then when you've come to accept it as reality, not perception. It's hard, but it can be done. I know that because I'm doing that now, every day. It's a series of exercises, a retraining and re-strengthening of the subconscious muscles, but the results are showing. The shame is disappearing and the doubt can now be reasoned with, at first mechanically but soon naturally. When I look at myself I no longer see a walking flaw. Sure, maybe I could tone up those abs a bit, but such thinking is the result of wanting to improve, not denigrate.

I know such talk can be weird, especially coming from the guy who writes that happy, squeaky-clean strip Sally Forth. But as I've mentioned before, my being able to say it to someone means I now have the conviction of those thoughts, not simply a quiet wish they will come true.

I promise, I'll start talking about arcane 70's pop culture again real soon. And thank you for listening.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Now This Is Eight Kinds of Awesome

Nothing like the Internet to remind you how many creative--and just plain nice--people populate this little world of ours.

I was very touched recently to find that my webcomic Medium Large had actually inspired some topnotch fan art or shout-outs.

The first drawing is a fantastic interpretation by Bassringer of main character "Medium Large Guy" doing what he does best--sitting on a couch watching TV and drinking what one hopes is a microbrew:

The second is a great "Medium Large Guy" cameo in Jeremy Benedict's terrific webcomic Muddlecreek. He appears in the jury box in the final panel.

Thank you, guys! It means the world to me!

Photoshop: It's Colorforms for Today's Kids!

Longtime--and loyal despite the intermittent posting rate on this blog--reader D.B. Echo made an interesting remark in my last article:

"Your picture on the header is just begging to have different hairstyles photoshopped onto it. It already looks like you're doing a Rapunzel pose."

So what do you say, people? Have at it and I'll post your work right here, name, links and all...which is another way of saying there is absolutely no cash prize involved.

Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen

For the past 15 years I have worried about my hair.

It has indeed receded and thinned but still does its job of covering up the ol' scalp for now. But that was never really the problem. As many people hardwired for depression I suffer from unhealthy obsessions. These obsessions create a seemingly endless mental loop in which what is a minor issue at best or temporary obstacle at worst consume my days and sometimes years. Thinning hair meant I was aging. Aging meant I was running out of time to accomplish my goals. Running out of time meant I had little chance of achieving said goals if at all. Thus, with nothing to look forward to I could only concentrate on the now, which meant my thinning hair. As the loop continued I'd add new worries, compile new personal and physical flaws and remove any and all positive outcomes, resulting in an outlook about my appearance that prevented me seeing past my own nose while making me wish I could never see my face. I became trapped in my own mind inside a body I had grown to dislike.

Like my shyness that I spoke of yesterday, this obsessive nature has inflicted far-reaching damage throughout my life, harming my present and almost assuredly hobbling my future. And like my shyness over the past few months I've taken great strides in both looking at the problem straight in the eye and being able to see past my own little world. It takes a great deal of effort to break out of crippling yet comforting cycles and certainly some days are better than others, but at least I feel like I'm moving forward now, not just retracing the same steps ad infinitum.

As for why I bring all this up here, there are a few reasons. First, I need to learn how to confront--but not navel-gaze--and this blog certainly gives me the venue and reason to analyze and write out my thoughts (yes, I know that is the main reason people maintain blogs, but I've been hesitant to do such until now). Second, seeing these thoughts in print greatly increases the chances that whatever conclusions I draw will be put into action. And third, while I prefer to post humor pieces, sometimes the distance humor allows prevents me from getting the work I need done.

Next Up: Newfound Comfort with Full-Frontal Nudity! (Just the topic you want to hear about from the guy who brings you Sally Forth)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Unused Onion News Network Submission #3

Proud Mom Says Son Smart, Gifted Enough to Be Charged as an Adult
A very proud mother of an 11-year-old accused murderer tells Today Now that her son is far more advanced mentally and emotionally than his peers and should be viewed as a “very capable and outstanding little man, not a kid” by the prosecution.

School Days, School Days...

Over the years Hilary has viewed the start of the new school term with great trepidation. Sometimes she's cautiously hoped for a year full of achievement and jubilation. Other times she's approached the endeavor with a glum mien and a feeling of impending sorrow. (However--for those who have recently questioned such--she's always begun school the day after Labor Day, just like many schools in the my beloved Northeast.)

Many of Hilary's fears in the strips mirror those I had throughout public school. Being an extremely shy kid, I approached each new year as French royalty would approach the guillotine, with a similar sense of fate but without the farthingale and lead-based facial powder. That shyness has ebbed noticeably over the years but has still proven a great stumbling block personally and professionally well into adulthood. Opportunities have been lost and relationships have ended because of a lack of confidence not only in my abilities but also my worthiness as a person.

Lately I've take a far more active approach to my reticence and timidity, through therapy and significant changes in my social demeanor and approach. While I'm very proud of what I've accomplished in the past few months I also know I can't rest on such improvements, both for my own good as for those I truly care about. I must continue to directly face and wrestle with my shyness if I'm ever to have a chance at a happy, fulfilling life.

I'm not quite certain how today's strip about the first day of school led to such ruminations. Maybe I see Hil's more reasonable outlook as an encouraging statement of my own. All I know is that it felt right--perhaps even emboldening--to express those thoughts here. After all, not every blog post can be about 70's sitcoms and failed Onion submissions, can they?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Will They or Won't They?

As is often the case with Faye and Hil-centric Sally Forth strips, some readers appear to be looking for a certain subtext in today's episode (quotes courtesy of The Comic Curmudgeon's commentators):

"Those first two panels would be the perfect set-up to a third panel with an awkward good-night kiss."

"Faye, just grab her and kiss her. That will stop time for her."

"So is Hillary (sic) gonna kiss that boy goodnight in the moonlight?"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Another Dip into the "Unused Onion News Network Submissions" Folder

“Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” Movie Reunites Startled Cast
20th Century Fox has just announced a big-screen version of the short-lived early 90’s TV series, reuniting a much surprised cast, many who have long outgrown their high school roles or gave up acting altogether. Fox Rep: “For years millions have wondered whatever happened to Parker and his friends…I think one of them was named Cameron.” ONN also interviews an angry former bit player on the show who was busily trying to finance his own movie version of the series.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

From the "Unused Onion News Network Submissions" File

Dearest Reader: Every so often I'll be posting failed submissions I've made to the Onion News Network in my capacity as an official contributor. The fact that these are indeed "failed" may attest to their very humor value. That said, they're already written and might as well appear somewhere other than just on my hard drive.

Dad Teaches Son Value of Dollar by Screaming That He Can’t Get Another Goddamn Toy
ONN Financial Advisor reports how a father turned a typical trip to the mall into an important discussion on financial responsibility by constantly screaming “NO GODDAMN IT! NO, NO, NO!!!” and “Do you (expletive) know how (expletive) hard I have to work to make this money you (expletive) (expletive)?!?” in front of a growing crowd after his child kept demanding a Nintendo DS game. Analyst suggests other parents use such shopping trips as opportunities to loudly and persistently impart money-saving tips to their children, and not cave in to the kid’s demand like the dad in the story eventually did.