Stork banalities

A fun fact: each of my comics is tagged with a number, and this is the 400th one. 400! I’ve been drawing these comics since 2011, and both those numbers feel substantial. (And, just as I am bragging about my output, I will also note that there probably won’t be a new comic next week, because it’ll be my birthday, and we’re renting a house with a pool for a couple of days. Please take this time to imagine animals with slightly dry or utterly gonzo senses of humor amongst yourselves.)

It also occurs to me that, if you don’t know those birds are storks, the joke doesn’t work at all, which is an unusually visual look into the dissonance between an artist/writer’s interpretation of a text and a viewer’s. I was looking at pictures of storks; I was thinking the word “storks,” but I never actually wrote it down.

It’s really common in the drafting and revising phase of a piece of writing for a writer (or anyway, certainly for me) to lose track of the line between what they hope the piece will convey and what it actually does, which is why early readers are so important. I can’t count on one or even two hands the number of times my agent or an editor or a writer friend has pointed out a glaring gap in the logic of a novel or story draft, which I had filled in with my own imagination (or had written into a previous draft and forgotten I’d cut). Turns out, it can happen with comics too: I hope the image of a stork flying in with a baby (which is, in fact, pretty weird in itself) still has enough cultural currency to be obvious here. If not…oh well.

This has been a big week for me and minor repairs resulting in major improvements: notably, I sent my computer in to get a new keyboard, because it had been repeating letters for about a year (yes, I did two book revisions that way; I don’t recommend it). Many a time have I typed “ass” when I meant “as,” among innumerable other typos; I think that having to delete at least one letter for every letter I typed was beginning to affect my subconscious relationship to text, and not in a good way.

Perhaps even more notably, I got my second vaccine shot on Monday! I am now in the process of making beautiful antibodies, and my reaction wasn’t too bad. I got tired and achy, but only to the optimal degree of self-pity: I was able to sit on the couch and watch a lot of Call My Agent (which is temporarily improving my French comprehension skills, as a bonus; also, I kind of hate Gabriel, though I think we’re not supposed to?), and I took a two hour nap, and today I feel pretty normal. For my first dose, I was kind of hustled through, which was fine, but it was really moving that, this time, everyone congratulated me. It does feel, in a weird way, like an achievement, or anyway a milestone. Vaccinated! Against our mutual pestilence! A delight, despite the mild flu that followed!

And today, my garden is full of poppies, the most ephemeral flower. The joy of a poppy is brief, and must be held lightly, especially when it’s windy, as it is now. The petals have a rich and pleasing color, such a delicate tulip curve, and yet in a day or so they’ll fall away.