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Going Public
I’ve been keeping a secret for a while now, but I’m about to go public with it. In fact, I’m doing it right here and now with this blog. I’ve talked about it to friends and family, but no one else. Maybe I was just being superstitious…as if just the act of blabbing about it might keep it from happening.

But that’s over. My big secret is… I’m making a book. It will be about 100 pages, hardbound, with a full color bleed on good quality paper. For awhile, I was calling it a graphic novel, but that never sounded right to me. “Book” is what I’m going with, even though it’s really a comic novel. If you wonder what that is, exactly, think of the Scrooge McDuck adventures created by the great Carl Barks. The art and storytelling of those comic books set formidable standards of cartoon excellence … ones that I will be reaching for with my book.

Head First has been sitting on the desktop of my computer for over twenty years, waiting for its moment. The file contained bits of plot summary, dialogue, and a list of conundrums needing to be solved. I would go in every once in awhile and tinker with it, but never really got serious until I stopped producing Deep Cover on a weekly basis. That opened up a hole in my work schedule. I’ve been working on the book ever since, hammering out the script, sketching characters, streamlining the plot.

The original idea for the book dates back to the mid-90s when my partner and I were trying to get Subconscious Comics made into a movie. We actually made some decent progress toward that goal. By the time we finally threw in the towel, we had churned out a treatment and then a script, found an enthusiastic agent, and collected a passel of near misses from studios both big and small. In the end, though, nothing came of it, and the dream went into hibernation.

At the end of my scintillating brush with Hollywood, however, I did come up with an idea for a second script, also with Subconscious Comics at its core. I worked on it for a short while, but since my agent had moved on and I had no place to go with my brainchild, I ran out of gas. My work on it all went into the file on my desktop, and that’s where it stayed until last summer when I opened it up again and got started wrestling with it in earnest.

At this point, I’ve worked through several sets of roughs, and finally, last week, I started inking. There is still a long way to go, but now it’s just a matter of executing. Even my superstition cannot stop me. What’s more, I find that I am truly excited by the prospect of completing the book…excited in a way that is new to me, and that is exciting in itself. But enough said about that. My superstition is starting to tingle again.

If you are a Subcon fan or if you’d just like to peek over my shoulder while I work, I invite you to search for “timeagancartoons” on Instagram and watch as the work unfolds. The inking has been a little slow here at the beginning (and that’s fine), but I’m guessing that the pace will pick up a bit as I go on. It will take at least a year, maybe even two, to finish. At this point, I foresee posting a detail every other day or so until I’m done.

As I envision the project here at the beginning, most of the posts from the book will be in black and white. That is because I intend to do all the inking first, then come back and do the color. As I post details from individual pages, though, I will likely include a few color experiments using old Subcon strips as the source of my line art. With the exception of the cover art for The Collected Subconscious in the 80s, my drawings for Subconscious Comics have never been touched by color.

So now my secret’s out. Hope I didn’t jinx it. When the book is finally in my hand, fresh from the printer and ready to send out into the world, you will be the first to know.
Just a Heads Up
First, an apology: I am really tired of writing about Donald Trump. Also thinking about him, listening to him, watching him, and having him be my President. Last week was an exception because I felt it was important to point out that he is a second degree murderer tens of thousands of times over. Sorry, but that needed to be said. And now, this week, I feel it’s vital to public safety that I speak out again. Therefore, I am sorry once again, but I have to sound the alarm. So…

Just a heads up. Donald Trump is not taking hydroxychloroquine (pronounced hydroxychloroquine — or, if you like, HCQ). He says he is, but that is a lie. Big globs of plaque are accumulating inside his blood vessels from eating all those Big Macs with extra fries. Plus, he’s morbidly obese. The FDA says that people in that condition are in the high-risk group for whom taking HCQ could lead to cardiomyopathy, ventricular tachycardia, and ventricular fibrillation.

Okay, I don’t know what those are either, but I do know something about the other possible side effect mentioned by the FDA: death. Do we really think an all-in narcissist like him (much less an ordinary sane person) would take such a risk? No, but you see, your president wants to prove that Dr. Rick Bright is a stupid-head. Bright is the whistleblower — and our top-line expert on vaccines until he was demoted for refusing to promote HCQ before it was properly tested. And here’s the proof, Trump is saying: I’m in the high-risk group, and I’m taking it. And I’m fine. So this guy’s wrong, and I’m right. So don’t believe anything he says. Believe me.

Except don’t, because Trump is lying, and he’s lying just to score a bogus rhetorical point against someone who had the temerity to disagree with him. The larger question, though, is why he is promoting HCQ in the first place. It is likely to be ineffective and dangerous. What’s the point in flogging it after the FDA has already weighed in?

My answer to that is a bit more theoretical, but hear me out. In addition to being a compulsive liar, Trump is a fantasist. He spins fantasies to gull his audiences and please himself. The liar in him, however, wants to take those fantasies a step further. Trump insists that the stuff he makes up is actually true. He likes the HCQ fantasy because it would lift him out of his current fix by providing a cure for COVID-19. It’s not true, but wouldn’t it be great (for him) if it were?

All he needs is some proof for his claim. His lie about taking it himself might provide a little, but he needs more. He’s not really taking it, as we have said, because that would be foolish and arguably courageous (neither of which he is). But he doesn’t mind if you think he’s taking it…or even if you take it yourself, plaque-lined arteries or not. He’s not the test subject who is voluntarily taking HCQ, but he wants you to be. You know, in case it could actually work. Without killing you…and that’s what he demands to be true.

So just a heads up, because we have to keep reminding ourselves. Trump is lying because that’s what he does. He’ll risk your life to win an argument or to turn his followers into guinea pigs or simply on a whim.

You’ve been warned. Again.
Donald Trump, Mass Murderer
Okay, that may be a little misleading. Yes, I think Donald Trump is a murderer, and yes, I think he is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths (so far). But the term “mass murderer,” at least in common parlance, is more appropriate for someone who plans and executes multiple killings. That’s not what we’ve got here. With Trump, it’s a case of murder in the second degree.

Accordingly, I will not place our president in the same category as Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Son of Sam. Those murderers killed their victims intentionally. They acted with the specific aim of killing other human beings. Trump does not. His actions are intentional, he does what he does on purpose, but he is not trying to kill someone. On the other hand, he doesn’t really care if someone dies, either. It’s just not part of his calculations.

Simply stated, he is indifferent to human life. He does things that cause the deaths of others — many others — and appears to be fine with it. All that matters to him is how he is affected. My evidence for such a claim? Well, there’s plenty, but let’s go back to March 6 and the incident that first launched the coronavirus into our American consciousness. The Grand Princess cruise ship, with 3500 passengers and crew on board, was idling off the California coast. Twenty-one of those people had tested positive for the virus, and they were awaiting instructions for how to proceed.

Trump was stunningly clear in his preferences. “I would rather (they stay on board) because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.” He did not mention the welfare of the people on board, nor the danger to people on shore. In fact, he had nothing to say about other human beings at all. His only thoughts were about how these events might reflect on him.

Which, it turns out, is not very well. Those 30-odd cases in March have ballooned to nearly 1.5 million, and the death count will hit 100,000 very soon. In order to turn that perception around, he has had to really pick up the pace with his lying. He has lied about everything from the beginning. That is not news, of course. But even though we might shrug off the petty grandiosity of the lies he tells about himself, when it comes to matters of life and death it’s a little harder to be forgiving.

He hides the truth about the virus. He says that he knows, but knows that he doesn’t. He misleads and fantasizes and and gives false hope and shines us on and yanks our chains…while knowing that people are depending on him for the truth. Oh, I do not, and you may not, but many others do…and we are all together on this whether we like it or not. He is the angel of death for the faithful and the heretics alike. He may not be trying to kill us all, but he’s good with it either way.

That makes him a murderer. A second degree murderer. The classic example of that crime is recklessly firing a gun in a crowded room. He hasn’t done that, but his lies are just as careless and dangerous. I suppose his defense attorney might suggest that his client is insane. I’m not sure that malignant narcissism, however, is enough to keep someone from knowing right from wrong. His narcissism would only make right and wrong irrelevant. That alone would not be enough to get him off the hook.

We might also imagine that he’d defend himself against our charges by saying that his actions — and failures to act — have been simple misjudgments, the kind we are all heir to. He could argue that everything he has done was designed to save lives, and that he simply screwed up. In other words, it was just an accident.

But that argument is not available to someone who must be seen as infallible. And since his claim of infallibility demands that he double down on every failure, he cannot learn from his mistakes. The result will surely be even more deaths. Nor will there be any apologies, nor mea culpas, nor appeals to mercy. We can expect nothing but brazen denials right up to sentencing and beyond.

Ah yes, the sentencing. What would be appropriate in this case? He’s no Joseph Stalin or Pol Pot or Adolph Hitler. They murdered millions, after all. President Donald Trump has only murdered tens of thousands, and only in the second degree. So there can be no death penalty, if that was your pick. Those victims are still dead, though, and it is his fault. So how about life in prison as an appropriate sentence? And just to make him an example for future presidents, why don’t we make it 10,000 consecutive life terms?
Brave New World
I’ve had an idea, and I’m looking for some partners to make it happen. They will have to be special people, I think, people with the courage to undertake a bold vision and dare to look beyond the conventions of inside-the-box thinking.

Let me explain. I have found myself fantasizing about the day I get vaccinated for the coronavirus. I imagine going back out into the world and doing all the things I cannot not do now. Even in my fantasies, though, I know that the world I re-enter will not be the same as it was when I left it. There will be changes to that world, and some of them are likely to be permanent.

One change will be a heightened awareness to the threat from viruses. You just know there will be more coming down the pike. Apparently, they are eager to upgrade from bats, pigs, and birds and land gigs with the human race. That is where the action is, right? There might even be more epidemics. If that happens, then masks and other safety measures are likely to become part of the new normal. I think we should be ready for that.

In the old days (a couple of months ago) I had assumed that someone wearing a mask was trying to protect themselves against the germs coming from others. Come to find out, their motives were altruistic. Those masks were meant to protect other people — us — from some contagion the wearer had. It’s always nice to get an upgrade to your faith in human nature, especially these days.

On the other hand, I was disappointed to learn that ordinary masks were pretty useless if you did want protection. That kind of mask is kind of expensive, it turns out, and pretty hard to get. Just ask the health care workers about the N95. Shouldn’t there be some kind of push to make these self-protecting masks available to everyone in the new future? You know, in case this happens again?

Which got me to thinking about nose hairs. I think we can all agree that, of all the hairs on the human body, none is more admirable than the nose hair. Its chief function, like that of the N95, is to deny admittance to any item that is not welcome in our lungs. When one considers what might be inadvertently sucked into our delicate inner passages, it’s hard to deny the importance of such work. Without the these gentle sentinels, anything from tainted motes of dust to swarms of murder hornets might be finding their ways into our soft private regions.

Nose hairs are the first line of defense against all potentially deadly intruders. I count in that dark confederacy the panoply of viruses that are out there plotting our misery. Including the damnable Covid-19.

So far, mere follicles have not been the equal of the clouds of tiny Covid globules now swirling among us in their menacing Brownian dance. We need something stronger and perhaps more dense to protect us. If masks are indeed going to be with us for a while, why not follow the lead of Mother Nature herself as we search for new solutions to the viral threat?

And so, my idea. It is, I dare to say, a possibly game-changing notion. With far-reaching ramifications. And nose hairs are at the very center of my vision.

Picture, if you will, a mask woven of the finest and most practical of natural materials - tightly knit nasal tresses. Yes, nose hairs! They have evolved over millions of years to perform the very task we now so desperately need. I am not suggesting that such a mask needs to be woven from your own nose hairs. Those hairs are busy doing their essential work 24/7. Instead, I propose that these incredible natural filterers be grown and harvested here in the U.S. using our abundant technical savvy — paired with good, old-fashioned American enterprise.

Good, you’re still with me. I salute your conceptual spunk. That kind of can-do attitude will be vital in seeing this project to its conclusion. So, what’s next? I’ll bet you’ve already guessed the answer. That’s right, nose hair farms! Where once there were amber waves of grain rippling in the sun, now imagine great rolling fields of follicles growing and thriving as far as the eye can see. All of it would be rooted in the finest man-made meat. That technology, we know, already exists. It just has to be scaled up to cover a third of our American land mass.

I may have lost a few of you with that last suggestion, but so be it. We are on the far frontier of public health theory, and it’s not for everyone. All right, then. We must dare to push on. Our next issue is keeping those millions of acres of meat moist — what I call the mucus conundrum. We’re going to need over 50 million barrels of it each year in order for this project to succeed.

Hey. Where’d everybody go?
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon