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Righting Wrongs
I had a complaint last week from a Subconscious Comics fan. In keeping with our strict policies concerning fan confidentiality, I will refer to this person simply as “this person” so as to avoid the possibility that some of my more obsessive followers don’t go on a rampage of retribution against this person (mum’s the word, Jeff).

This person’s issue was my recent practice of lopping off sections from my graphic novel Head Start and pasting them into the Subconscious Comics page of the website in a place normally reserved for past episodes of the black and white comic strip. This person was of the opinion that the clips, which typically slashed through characters, word balloons, and meaningful background constructions, were disorienting and often “looked wrong.”

Well, we are nothing if not sensitive here at to any offense our cartoons might have caused. So this week (October 16 in the site’s Subcon archives) I have printed the entirety of page 25. That was the page which was so brutally disfigured on October 13. I hope this person’s equilibrium and need for coherence have been served.

Besides all that, though, page 25 does mark a pivotal point in the unfolding narrative of Head First. For that reason alone it deserves to be shown in full. It is here that the journey begins down toward the lower crypts of the Subconscious, and that is where we will eventually find out exactly how the cookie of the plot will crumble.

I can’t promise that I will keep revealing whole pages from the book. That might spoil the fun of reading it when it’s finally published. But I don’t want anything to “look wrong,” either. To “this person” or anyone else. From here on, I guess I’ll just have to be more careful with the chain saw.
Where is There?
Talking graphic novel again. I’ve posted a section of page 25 today (October 13, 2021 if you’re looking in the archives). It poses one of the many conundrums that exist in the Subconscious: where is there, exactly?

In this scene, Nemo is talking about taking the long, perilous journey to the Dark Side, but the dark Side isn’t over there, as the name would suggest, but down there. Is that a big deal? Who really cares about the geography of a place that is completely imaginary? What difference does it make if up, down, and sideways are interchangeable? Well, for the guy who drew Subconscious Comics for twenty years, it was (and still is) a big deal.

I always felt that the Subconscious had to make some kind of sense even if it constituted a separate universe that operated under different rules than ours does. There is, after all, some kind of connection between the real world and the dream world, even if it’s not completely obvious. “Where” on this side of the veil might be in a completely different place on the other side. “There” could easily be “here,” and even “nowhere” would have a place of its own.

I’m losing you, aren’t I? Let’s just say that during those twenty years I always made an effort to make sense of the non-sensical because I knew there was a connection there someplace. I will admit that I haven’t had much luck in this quest. I do know, however, that in the Subconscious the Dark Side is down, just as the Bright Side is up and the Inside is out.

It may be that the source of these uncertainties is language. Words and pictures can’t really occupy the same place, at least not in a drawing. You’re either looking at one or the other. You can do both at the same time with animation and a sound track, but that is a much different thing. Dreams and reality are the same way. It gets close sometimes, but they never quite co-exist.

Okay, I’ve left the mother ship again, this time without my tether. So before I go, let me sum up: I’m not sure where “where” is. Furthermore, I am hazy about what “what” is or when “why” is, for that matter. Which is about normal in the Subconscious.

(And yes, Head First the graphic novel continues to move forward toward the big day of its Kickstarter launch. I’ll give you plenty of notice, I promise.)
Hail to the Victors
I was elated, of course, when the San Francisco Giants won the Western Division of the National League this year. That feeling, however, is already a ghostly memory. Like all the other victories I have enjoyed this season, this one is merely another means to the far greater end of a World Championship. That outcome, as we know, is still uncertain.

Not that I am ungrateful for the ride. Running up the highest number of wins in team history was a thrill, as was hitting the most home runs ever by a Giants squad. And doing all that while nosing out the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers (the second best team in baseball this year) was certainly a pleasure. Furthermore, they did it all against the odds. And yet, even the luster of these deeds will fade if we do not secure that ultimate victory.

I only say such things because they are true. If we do not win it all, we can never fully luxuriate in remembering this year’s accomplishments. No matter how wondrous, they will submerge in the past without the honor that could have been theirs…if we had won at the end. Think of 1962, or ’89, or 2002. What do we recall of those seasons except for the loss at the end? Very little. Sad, but true.

Vince Lombardi (who, I am told, was a famous coach in some other sport) once said that winning is the only thing. I can’t go that far. If we were to win the World Series this year by taking out hits on all our opponents’ pitching staffs, I don’t think it would be very satisfying. I am confident that, even if the law and Jehovah Himself never caught up with us, the baseball gods would surely step in and deny us the ultimate prize. Even though winning it all is the only way to preserve our memories of this year, it will have to be done fair and square.

It has been a great season of baseball, and not just because my team has done well. The Giants/Dodgers rivalry has been honored with a hard-fought battle to the very end. So has the other premier matchup between the Yankees and the Red Sox (a conflict still to be decided as of this writing in a duel between Wild Cards). And more ferocious competition is yet to come, no doubt featuring feats of athletic heroism never before witnessed on the field of dreams.

At the end, though, the result will be the same. Only one team will come through with its precious moments fully enshrined in memory. For the others, a few bright inklings might glimmer for awhile, but everything else will be lost.

Oh, the losers will no doubt experience a measure of character growth from their experience. They will enjoy the warm feelings of camaraderie that come with good work toward a common goal. They will know friendship, pride, a heightened sense of self worth, and an array of other blessings from their participation in Major League Baseball this season.

But not glory. That is only for the victors.
Don’t Do The Research
Please, please don’t do the research. One reason: so many obviously ill-informed people are insisting that you do. What those people are really asking is that you read the “sources” which they are relying on for their beliefs. Better to just turn slowly and walk away.

Research into complicated, arcane subjects is not, after all, your strong suit. If it were, you would already have an informed opinion. Furthermore, that opinion would be open to change if your research turned up new and powerful evidence that called the original opinion into question. That’s what genuine experts do. But admit it — that’s not you.

So, in the case of Covid-19, unless you’ve been studying infectious diseases all your life and are recognized by other respected people in that field as an authority, then your research is not worth squat. The same goes for your studies of rampant electoral fraud. Unless you have a solid understanding of the laws and systems underpinning elections and are actually wading into the data up to your neck, then your opinion does not count for much.

And so on, with all manner of subjects about which you know very little. Rather than reading whatever sources the guy down at the end of the bar recommends, let me suggest that your time would be better spent figuring which experts to rely on.

Let’s take an example: Covid. To keep it simple, we’ll establish our basic goal as avoiding death no matter how it may come. For the purposes of this exercise, we will assume that you do not think that Covid is some kind of hoax.

Now, let’s establish your options for a reliable expert. Behind door #1 we have Anthony Fauci. He has studied epidemiology for most of his professional life. That discipline is the main focus of his work, which includes service under U.S. presidents of both parties and in positions of high responsibility in several prestigious organizations and institutes at the center of his field. He has taken the lead not only in confronting Covid, but in battling AIDS, MERS, Swine flu, and Ebola.

Behind door #2 is Dr. Jennings Ryan Staley. Dr. Staley harnessed his license to practice medicine by operating the Skinny Beach Med Spas around San Diego. He also marketed a “COVID-19 management program” that included hydroxychloroquine, Xanax, and Viagra for a mere $4000 per kit as a “miracle cure” for the virus. The absence of Ivermectin from that list might be explained by the fact that it rose to fame only after Dr. Staley had already entered his guilty plea to mail fraud, a felony.

But hey, he’s a doctor. So, which of these dedicated healers would you choose as a source of life-saving advice? I have purposely made the choice easy (I hope) to illustrate my point: even though looking into the backgrounds of your chosen experts is technically “research,” it’s the kind that you are qualified to perform. Look at their histories, look at their status within the field, look at their rap sheets. Then decide.

And if the facts change, go ahead and change your opinion about the expert. If Fauci gets busted for promoting the ingestion of Clorox as a cure (even though no idiot would ever really suggest such a thing), then drop him from your list of reliable sources and find someone else to listen to.

Hey, you can do this. It’s all the other, complicated stuff that you suck at.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon