Category Archives: Life

RIP Darwyn Cooke

Captain Cold Darwyn Cooke

2016 is a bastard. Now it’s taking comics artists.

This morning, I saw online that Darwyn Cooke passed away from cancer. This was only one day after an announcement came out that he was in palliative care for cancer.

I didn’t know him personally at all, but I am saddened by his loss. Both New Frontier and his run on Catwoman came out when I was working as a comics colorist, and they blew my goddamned mind. His style was unrelentingly throwback, without any hint of the “make it dark and gritty” thing that has dogged comics for decades. His style was sharp as a pin, his pages had a breezy quality, and his superheroes smiled.

New Frontier

When he drew women, they still had that wasp-waisted 50’s pinup style to them, but they were far from brittle. His Catwoman dressed in goggles and practical boots instead of fetish heels. His Wonder Woman was taller than Superman.

Catwoman wonderwoman

As a writer, he had a knack for iconic characters like no other. In New Frontier, he demonstrated that he knew exactly how to get to portray the classic, purest form of each hero and villain, and he could do it without the story ever feeling stale. He even did that with Wonder Woman, who is notorious for being one of the toughest comics characters to write because she is more symbol than anything else.

He was a breath of fresh air in an industry that needed it, and I’ll miss his work.

I have one last thing to share: I own one of the original pages of New Frontier, and I thought you might like to see it. It is the entrance of Captain Cold into the story.

The page is great example of the economy in his work. Clean, broad, and simple without being boring. Only three panels on the page, like almost every page he drew for New Frontier. Great trust in the colorist, Dave Stewart. (Though, to be fair, it’s easy to trust the best colorist in the business.)

Farewell, Mr. Cooke. We’ll miss you.

New Frontier - Captain Cold

Insomniac

Eyeball Bead (DIY macro lens)According to my Fitbit Flex, the average amount of sleep I currently get is around four hours per 24 hour round. In the last month, there has been only one night where have I slept longer than 6 hours. Last night, I slept about 90 minutes, total.

The weird part is that I haven’t been sleepy during the day. I definitely don’t feel right, but I seem to be alert and functional. (I did ask a coworker this morning if my face showed human emotions, though, so your definition of “functional” might be different from mine.)

The Fitbit graph shows a steady decline over several months, from an average of six hours of sleep per night in December, to around five in February, to four by the end of April.

There is probably a confluence of reasons for this. The stress of getting married a few weeks ago (along with a second ceremony for the parents this weekend). New medication, started in February. General disarray in my life. The wax and wane of OCD. A constant feeling of being behind on all my projects, so I keep putting in longer hours to keep up.

The impact of the insomnia is deep, even though I can still mostly operate as a human being at this point. I’m feeling distant from my husband because I’m awake all night instead of cuddling up and snoozing. I spend a large portion of my waking hours alone in the living room, in silence, working on projects. The part of the day where I am around humans, I feel like I’m not fully engaged. I’m not exercising, because my day is so out of whack that I can’t carve out the time, and I don’t want to go out running at night because it might make the insomnia even worse.

I’m worried that the line on the graph will continue to decline to lower numbers. I’m wondering if I’ve forgotten how to sleep.

However, this really isn’t unusual for me.

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More Words Than I Ever Thought I’d Write About Prince

First Ave!It’s been a little more than one day since Prince Rogers Nelson was found dead at Paisley Park, which is about 20 miles from my couch. He was 57, which is too young to go for any human, but especially young for someone who we all kind of suspected was an immortal sex alien.

I’ve never considered myself a “fan” of Prince. I never was a huge listener of his music. I mean, yes, I grew up in Minneapolis during the 1980s, which means I lived and breathed his music for that decade because it was inescapable. I saw Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge because they were filmed here. I owned a cassette of 1999 (which my mom confiscated after she heard it), and I still have a CD of the Batman soundtrack. But after the 1980s passed, my musical tastes didn’t latch onto Prince’s music. (That’s not a comment on his talent at all; it’s just that once I found Mr. Bungle, I fell deep down the avant-garde metal rabbit hole.)

So, because of that, I would have never expected to grieve much for his passing. I have many, many friends who are far more passionate about his music than I, and their grief is fully understandable. And yet, I was sobbing in the shower this morning as I got ready for work. I’ve been wrecked for the last day.

Even though I never met the man, he meant a lot more to me than I ever thought he did. Perhaps I took him for granted, like he was some sort of permanent fixture of my hometown.

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Arid January

Beer O'Clock

So, I decided to have a dry January.

Okay, maybe not exactly dry. Just arid.

Lemme explain.

Last year was rough. Really rough. Incredible things happened, but I was pulled beyond capacity.

And I was drinking a lot.

The two aren’t necessarily related. I don’t think I was drinking to get away from problems. However, I was drinking a lot because I was too tired to stop myself. I didn’t have the mental fortitude to say, “Yeah, let’s stop at one drink tonight.”

I was drinking 1+ bottles of wine by myself every time I recorded Xanadu Cinema Pleasure Dome. I was drinking 1+ bottles of wine at every movie night at my house. I was drinking at other events. I never got stumbling drunk because my liver is apparently supernatural, and I’d rarely have a hangover the next day, but that’s a lot of booze. That’s a lot of empty calories. That’s a lot more booze than necessary for enjoyment. That’s not drinking because I like the taste of beer and wine and scotch — which has long been my mantra — that’s drinking because it’s there.

And it’s been taking a toll on my body. My weight was skyrocketing in the latter quarter of last year, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t all just stress putting pounds on me.

So, I decided to have a dry January, to see if my suspicions were right. To see if quitting alcohol for a while was harming me in more ways than expected. To reset my love of beer and wine and scotch.

Or, rather, an arid January.

Lemme explain.

I’ve never gone dry before because it kills me to be in a restaurant or at a party where someone has a beer or wine or food that I’ve never tried before… and I have to say no. New experiences are the oxygen I breathe. If anything was going to undo a pledge to go dry, it was going to be that. It was going to be me greedily eyeing a booze label I’d never seen before.

Thus, I’ve made a caveat to my pledge: I get to taste things. If it’s something I’ve never tasted before, I get to have a sip of it. Not a full bottle or glass, but a taste.

And guess what? That seems to work.

I actually lounged around at a tiki bar all last evening, had only one taste of a tiki drink, and spent the rest of the evening happy. (In fact, I learned something: if you need to be a teetotaler in a bar, there might be no finer place than a tiki bar. Those bartenders can whip up some great non-alcoholic drinks from their arsenal of fruit juices.)

So, what are the results of (mostly) not drinking for a bit over a week?

I lost four pounds.

Yeah, I was drinking a lot.

Here’s to another three arid weeks.

Looking Back and Looking Forward

I sucked at keeping it together in 2015.

No, that’s probably not quite right, even though that’s how it feels on the first day of 2016. I sucked at keeping my brain together in 2015. On the outside, if I look at the evidence, there’s a lot I did in 2015 that should make me proud. The fact that I accomplished any of it while being sabotaged by my own personal issues is a wonderment. It’s weird that I can look back on all the stuff that happened in 2015 and only see weight gain, daily struggles with mental illness, far too little creativity, and way too much alcohol.

This is my first Tin Lizard blog post in over a year, which belies a year were I felt I was either doing too little of import or was doing too much to talk about it. I look at my computer records and see swaths of unedited photos and the sputtered sparks of once-promising projects. It’s like simultaneously looking at a year that didn’t happen and a year that was too full to have any sense applied to it.

Thus, to smack my brain back to reality, I need to list what I actually accomplished in 2015. I need to dump all the junk out of the box so I can sift through and find the keepers. Perhaps then I’ll be able to hash out what truly has been missing.

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