Wednesday, May 23, 2007

cartoons rooted in nonconformity

A few months back I began blogging about my daughter’s travails in society: a budding nonconformist meets Figures of Authority.

Here is the first writing, and here is the second writing.

The nonconformity is expressed in her cartoons. Yeah, her word choice sucked at times, but I trust she understands that aspect of it now. Well, she bailed on her websites, so I asked for jpegs so I could post them here.

Here is the first drawing she put up. She captioned it “Little Girl.” I think it equally works as, “Sometimes Toys Must be Punished." My first reaction to the drawing was to remark at how amazing I thought her freehand and PhotoShop skills were. I saw that curtain in the background and viewed the drawing as performance art. Did I think it indicated a need for counseling or group therapy or a prayer circle? No. Still don’t. She is compelling an inanimate object – a teddy bear – to stop making her hear voices. Isn’t that normal?

Next came two drawings. The then-15 year old wanted to fly away on a balloon. So she did. I found the character being developed in these cartoons to be compelling. Now, I don’t know about you, but one fear I would have flying away on a balloon would be getting tangled up. Well, it’s cartoon world, not real life, so the hope-I-don’t-get-tangled test came next (mind you, she has already flown away). How best to test? Certainly cannot be an inanimate object. First, the teddy bear has a knife through its forehead – that would mess with aerodynamics by being a little top heavy. Also, it would not be realistic in that it wouldn’t move around during flight. Aha! A bunny! The Russians have been doing that for years. Unfortunately, the bunny didn’t make it. See the value of test flights?

Next on the Cartoon Hit Parade is a reflection of labeling. Just because a person picks out her own clothes based upon her personal tastes, as opposed to dressing like Mommy (even though you’re a boy) or finding a picture in “16” Magazine that has a dreamy boy looking adoringly at some airhead named Sammi, does not make that person “gothic.” Even if it did, why is it so bad to explore one’s own path? How’s this for a statement: When I was a kid, most of the people I knew were kids, so I’m like an expert. Every single one of them, including the pastor’s son, had a private side, an experimental side, a dark side. Those that were stripped of it paid a heavy price later on. Suppression is pathetic. So when wonder boy shows up and says, “You’re Gothic,” the natural response is to say, “Don’t use words you can’t spell.” Then draw out you fantasies.

Fantasies. Get it? I asked my boy one time about the violence in games. He was 9. “Do you think this affects the way you view things?” “Dad, it’s a game.” Different generation, people. They understand the difference. This cartoon, however, became Exhibit “A” in my daughter being expelled from school after other parents threatened to pull their kids out before she murdered somebody. Whoa. No exaggeration – the phrase, “Columbine waiting to happen” was used. How sad to be so afraid.

Continuing on the guns-in-print theme, a student at the former school says to her, “I hate taking care of the cats. I would just as soon kill them. Can you draw me something like that?” Mind you, this student is the pride of joy of Mother and Father’s hearts. He does little wrong. “He’s a good boy, ayep,” says Father, “must’ve done something right along the way.” People, people, manage the deviance you see – manage it, do not suppress it. Freud really did have something in his concept of Sublimation. Smart guy.

Let's continue on the gun theme. Now, the issue is not a direct response to some kid asking the same question ad naseum, but instead a general frustration that we all share. Girl Scout cookies come around all too infrequently. Imagine when they finally do get here, and they don’t have your favorite kind! It can be more than just an everyday level of angst. Desperate times call for desperate methods. I think the Girl Scout understands now that, “Sorry, no. But I do have Peanut Butter!” is simply unacceptable. They shouldn’t leave something as important as Girl Scout cookies to children.

Notice how the character is developed now. Also, she researched the uniform colors on the net. Should I shudder at the subject matter? She has never shot nor has any interest in shooting a gun. She is the type of girl that is not a conformist such as is typical with Girl Scouts and cheerleaders. That is not to denigrate girls that join such organizations or activities. Different type of person. The language? Cut me a break. I hear it everywhere, including out of Girl Scouts and cheerleaders.

In honor of George Washington, the next cartoon is a combination of dishonesty in the face of incontrovertible facts and an utter lack of patience. Patience? Well, she hung puppy, but couldn’t wait for the process to complete.

It’s like a combination George Washington-Mexican Burrito Preparation-Piñata party. Notice how she captured the look of innocence. I think she looks in the mirror and draws. I have seen that same plaintive look on her.

One of my favorite drawings is "Bathe the Kitty." I love the persona of my girl sitting with her headphones on completely oblivious to the plight of those around her. She's my hero.

Furthering the theme of being oblivious, here is forced oblivion. While surrounded by angry people spewing their venom, she sits passively in her heels and pearls. Not only does she filter the ugliness of those around her, she gives color to the words. She is preserved in her romantic view of the world in spite of the world itself.

Such depth of understanding. I am so proud of her for this simple drawing.

Last two for now. I have about seven more for another post.

Who doesn't like a hot babysitter? The view and reaction of the boy is perfect. I may not have been as young as the boy depicted, but I certainly remember waiting for the new babysitter and having certain expectations.

Do you think he's hearing the story?

Alright. That's all for now. Enjoy your evening.


  1. I think it's beyond talent. They speak for themselves and it is only the weak that are scared of it. It is survival of the fittest in non civilized worlds. Some of us, me included am a survivalist. We do not think in a civil manner, yet we keep ourselves in check. Her expression of those feelings are in her art, a healthy release. I do think it is the conformist which would challenge thinking outside the box. Conformists are boring and truly never make a breakthrough in life. It is actually the non-conformist, which will go the distance to prove a point whether it is a breakthrough in medicine or theory. If she/he stayed in the box, we'd still be in the dark, now wouldn't we, my dear sir?

  2. Ha. They thought I'd start a Columbine? Wow. No sense of humor whatsoever.

    Love you dad.

  3. i'm with you, baby. they should teach in my inner-city philly classroom if they want to understand the frontlines.

    i love you, too. daddy