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Category: Cartoons

Full Circle
Okay, first day of the new Subconscious era, and as you can see from today’s posting, I have gone full childish. Well, not full childish. We’re not talking toddler here. It’s more like 7-year-old boy humor. I have no apologies, though. That 7-year-old is still alive and well — and active —inside my head.

These new drawings, at least for now, will harken back to the first to the first cartoons I had published in Santa Cruz. That was in 1974 in the old Santa Cruz Times, early forerunner of the current Good Times. No spoken words here, just oddly humorous drawings. Whimsy, in other words.

We’ll see where it goes from there.
Square One
Okay, here we are. On the “Subconscious Comics” page of the website this week we have reached the end — or rather, the beginning — of that comic strip. The episode I’ve just posted there was the very first one to see print. The first of a thousand or so. You can now see — on that page and in the voluminous archives — everything I have been able to find here in my studio. Some episodes have been lost. Others were given away or sold or left behind in copy machines. So this is it. The complete set.

The strip was created originally as a spec proposal for the National Lampoon. They had been using some of my spot cartoons, and I was hoping to break into their “Funny Pages” section. It ran in the late 70s and early 80s and featured such alternative gems as Bobby London’s Dirty Duck, Gahan Wilson’s Nuts, Shary Flenniken’s Trots and Bonnie, Dan O’Neill’s Odd Bodkins, and a bunch of others I would have been proud to appear with.

There was some back-and-forth, but it never happened. Around that same time, luckily, The Santa Cruz Express was coming into being here at home. Its editor, Buz Bezore, asked me if I had something “different” to offer for the new weekly. Whatever you say about Subcon, it is different. I showed him what I had offered to the Lampoon. Buz liked it, and we were off and running. This first episode (owing partly, I think, to its smutty theme) was a smashing success.

And now, 42 years later, we are once again at square one. Back at that first strip — and the last one I will post. Next week there will be something else on that page. Right now, I can only say that it will come from within the world of Subconscious Comics. I’d call it a “new beginning,” but I’m not really sure that it will be the beginning of anything. I can only say that it will be something different.
The End is Near
I drew Subconscious Comics for 20 years. After that, I took to posting those same cartoons on this website for another 20. For some reason, I decided to post the strips in reverse chronological order. This week we have reached the year 1980 — and the second Subcon ever printed. Next week, we will finally arrive at the very first episode of Subconscious Comics.

It will also be the last episode I upload, perhaps ever. I have decided (now that my Subcon-inspired graphic novel Head First has come out) that it is time to leave those old drawings in the past and move on. Not from Subcon itself, of course. That would require major brain surgery. Those characters and settings are a permanent part of my hard drive now, and I can’t imagine life without them.

I don’t have a clear picture of exactly how the future will unfold. The idea of another book is appealing, but I’m not ready to commit to that. Instead, I am going to start — the week after next — producing new drawings for the space that the old Subcons have been going. It’s been a while since I’ve done that. They won’t be new strips…just bits of whimsy from the world of Subconscious Comics.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but it should be fun.
Meanwhile, Back at the Website
In case you’ve missed it, for the last three years I’ve been grinding out a graphic novel based on my comic strip Subconscious Comics. Now the writing, the drawing, the coloring, and the building of a Kickstarter campaign are done. I raised the money I needed to print and publish Head Start. All that’s left now is the nuts and bolts of getting it out to my stalwart backers. Thanks to all of you.

As I return my focus to, I notice that we are reaching another milestone. Over the last two decades, I have been on a path to republishing all one thousand episodes of Subconscious, starting with the strips from 2000 and working backward toward the very first installments from the end of 1980. Two weeks ago, I finally began posting strips from 1981.

After such a long time, I only barely recognize some of these strips. It’s almost as if I’m getting to experience them in the same way others did — just with a 40-year time delay. The drawing style (to my eye) changed a lot over the life of the strip. The Boss looks pretty much the same, but Nemo, the other characters, and the topography of the subconscious have evolved and matured.

Not Nemo’s personality, though, nor any of the other characters’. I am proud to say that they have remained consistent in that way. Nemo is still as calm, centered — and detached — as he ever was. The Boss is still a tangle of complexes and neuroses. Ava didn’t arrive until 1985 (so you won’t see her again as postings head backward in time toward that very first episode), but she has brought that same fire ever since she arrived.

I seem to have slipped into a reverie about my comic strip. That wasn’t my intention, really. Still, I am struck by the fact that, in producing the graphic novel, I’ve put those old characters back in the front row of my mind. They re-entered my daily thoughts for the first time in decades.

It appears I am more attached to them than I had realized. Strange. They’re imaginary people, after all. And not even people — creatures of the subconscious. Cartoon creatures of the subconscious. Even so, I will miss them — again — if they go away.
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Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz