This comic was drawn in my journal, so there’s another comic on the back of the page showing through just a little bit.
I made this in my class tonight (I often participate in the exercises with the students). The assignment was: make a comic as a valentine to yourself in the past, at a time when you might have needed it.
There are several past Valentine’s Days when I would have benefitted from a note from Future Anna. Sadder ones. Lonelier ones. But this one sprang to mind. I really was happy being alone that day, even though a little part of me longed for something romantic to happen. But I used to worry about how things would work out: love, career, family, all that jazz.
What I know now is that everything works out. This doesn’t mean that everything is good and tied up in a neat package with a bow. What I mean is that everything just is. It works out because it exists, I exist, I am here in my life and I am okay. No matter which paths I could have chosen, I would have ended up somewhere. Decisions are not right or wrong, they just ARE. So you pick the thing you really want to do, or be, or have. Like John Carter in E.R. when he choses to drop out of his surgery residency to pursue emergency medicine instead. He struggles with this decision, and really either path would have been fine. Either path leads to good and bad things. It’s just, which thing do you really want to do?
I long very deeply for the ability to call my mom, in a casual way, just walking around. To talk about our days, thoughts, whatever. So if I could tell my younger self to do anything, I guess it would be to call her. Even if I’d just called her five minutes before. Call her again. Hear her laugh. Argue with her. Tell her you love her. Hear her call you that nickname that rings in your head even now, almost five years after the last time she ever said it.
This comic is actually from an assignment in my Comics Studio class. Our first meeting was this past Tuesday, and one of the assignments I gave was to make a comic from first person POV about a moment that changed your life.
Giving birth was a huge life-changing experience for me, in so many ways. This one little moment could be lost in the rest, but I come back to it again and again. I thought I was working as hard as I could. I’d been in labor for so, so, so many hours. I’d already been pushing for an hour and a half at the point the nurse said this to me (and I still had two hours to go).
This feeling of holding back– I have it when faced with jumping into water from a high place, rafting, doing anything that involves physical risk in that way.
Sometimes I think I am brave. Other times not.
I didn’t understand how to push, how could I, having never done it before? No one really tells you what it’s like, and even if they try it’s impossible to understand until you feel it. But I did feel that “pulling back at the last second” thing the nurse chastised me for. I pushed and pushed right up to the edge, and when it felt like the pain would break me I backed off.
How do I learn to push through the unbearable pain, through to the other side? I just do it, I guess.
I wrote out my full birth story a few days after it happened. I feel this need to tell and retell it. To work through the trauma of it. To understand it. Because it’s this big moment (a 30-hours-long moment) that changed me physically, mentally, and emotionally. Because I did this amazing, powerful, crazy, painful, rip-me-apart, blood-guts-and-poop, wrecking ball of a thing. So I talk about it to anyone who will listen. So I ask my husband to tell me over and over what it was like for him. So I look at the photos from that day, at my face before and after, at my sweaty hair, at the bed and the room and the sheets and the nurses and Greg and Phoebe and Bonnie and the IVs and tubes and at that tiny perfect human who pushed his way into this world through my body.
And I’m making some comics about it too. Here are the first four pages.
Guys! I’m teaching a comics workshop! Autobiographical Comics, with IS183 of the Berkshires:
Comics serve as a powerful tool for exploring our experiences and sharing our stories, using both image and text. In this course we will start with some basics of graphic storytelling: panel structure, rhythm, and the relationship between words and pictures, building towards each student creating their own autobiographical comic. Using examples from contemporary cartoonists, along with group exercises, you will have the chance to experiment and find your voice as you work towards a final project.
Member Price: $120
Lesson Info: Tuesdays, 6 to 8PM February 23 to March 22 (5 Meetings) Location: exPRESS Gallery, North Adams
Department: Graphic Storytelling
Instructors: Anna Moriarty-Lev
First Lesson: Tue, Feb 23 2016
I passionately believe that anyone can make comics. You don’t need expensive supplies, or any kind of art training. What you do need is a desire to tell a story with words and pictures. And you need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. That’s it.
Telling our own stories is a deeply human desire, and it’s how we learn about what it means to be human. Making comics can be a really fun and healing way to process your own experience. Whether it’s something difficult you’re going through, or just funny moments with your friends and family, making comics about it creates a window into your specific viewpoint.
Let’s make comics!