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The Book, the Book, the Book!
NEWS ITEM: My graphic novel, Head First, continues to move toward its launch date on Kickstarter. While the progress might seem to be glacial to the casual observer, there is plenty of activity behind the scenes.

For one thing, the lead art for that page is now done. I posted it this week (on Feb. 23, 2022 if you happen to be searching for it in the archives of Subconscious Comics). The book itself (or at least the artwork) has been done for a while now. It waits to be shipped off to the printer where it will be turned into a hard cover, full-color, large format, single story book based on Subconscious Comics. Am I a little nervous? You bet.

Right now, it looks like the end of March for launch. I will let you know when it happens — more than once.

In case you didn’t know, I am sending out updates now as we approach launch (or “go live” as they say). If you want to receive these emails, please go to my special email address:

…and ask me to put you on the list. Among other things, you’ll get a sneak preview of the Kickstarter page before launch and plenty of notice when it does go live. It’ll only be up for 30 days, and this will likely be your only chance to get a copy. Honest!
Hope or Fear; I Just Can't Decide
I’ve been getting these little emotional rushes here recently. They’re quite pleasant, but they worry me. I think they might be flashes of hope that things are getting better.

I Know, I know…what in the hell is wrong with me? We’re in the middle of a pandemic, man! Ignorance and cruelty are having their way with the world. Putin is poised to unleash a blitzkrieg into Ukraine and we are on the brink of World War III!

Well, yes. I know all those things, but I can’t help what I feel. Surely cooler heads will prevail, and there will not be a Russian invasion. It would be a lose/lose/lose move, and they’d be nuts not to find a way to climb down from this trumped-up crisis.

And the COVID plague? It’s killed a lot of people, no doubt, but doesn’t it seem like it’s trying to go away now? Sort of? With a little help from us? Maybe omicron will be it, and now we can move on to that new normal we’ve been waiting for.

Okay, now I hear you saying, “Hope is for suckers. chump!” To which I can only say, “Wow. Really, dude?” Don’t we have to consider that our cynicism is just a defense mechanism to protect us from the frightening turn in human behavior? Have we lost all trace of our innocence?

I have come to believe that the surge in cruelty will fade, by the way. People are drawn to it now because they are afraid — the same reason we are drawn to cynicism. But all that is changing. For the better!

At least that is how I am starting to feel. It’s a good feeling, as I say, but it does concern me. I worry that my flanks might be unprotected if I get too swept up in a hope high. I'd be naked, you might say. Any one of those dangers we face could suddenly metastasize and devour me. Putin, the crazy stupids, or the next bad-ass variant coming along could bring me down, and I would be helpless to defend myself.

On the other hand, that would happen no matter how I felt. So what’s the diff? Better to go down smiling, I say.

Assuming my teeth don’t get knocked out.
Strike Nowhere
There is a safeguard, under law, that is meant to protect us from crappy products. The Implied Warranty of Merchantability it’s called, and it holds that anything we buy in the course of normal commerce must be fit to use for the purposes it is intended.

If you buy a broom, it has to be good for sweeping. If you buy a house, it has to be habitable. And, I would say, that a box of “Strike Anywhere” matches would have to contain matchsticks that would ignite if scratched firmly against almost any surface. As to that last item, let me assert that the Diamond Match Co. has violated my warranty with their crappy matches.

There was a time when saying that a match could be struck anywhere could be relied upon. Oh, you couldn’t ever strike them on the leg of your magenta velvet bell bottoms, but on your dungarees? Oh yes. And plenty of other surfaces, too, including your thumbnail.

Sadly, those days are gone. No more Ohio Blue Tips, no more Diamond red and whites. Just these lame green and beige Strike Nowhere matches that won’t even light when you drag them across the sandpaper on the box.

What’s more, I’ve seen nothing about swat teams swooping in to close down any match factories. So much for my Implied Warranty of Merchantability. Maybe I can use it to start my wood stove.
Control Experiment
Nic Stone, who wrote the novel Dear Martin, could have let it fly when a North Carolina school district banned her book from being used in a local high school. The book is aimed at kids of that age, and besides its frank depiction of racial profiling, it contains a few unspectacular “bad words.”

Ms. Stone might have called racism over the incident, but instead she chose a gentler analysis. “In times like these,” she said, “we are all looking for something we can control.”

That calm assessment, delivered with a smile, has stuck with me. She might have singled out any of a number of the players in this story for criticism: the parents who showed such over-the-top outrage, the school administrators who acquiesced so swiftly to the demands, the leaders who fostered the climate of fear and ignorance that surrounded these events. But I think her insight penetrates more deeply to the heart of the matter.

Books are an easy target. They don’t fight back, at least not in conventional ways. All they have are the strength of their ideas and the actions and voices of their characters. Viruses and catastrophic weather are more daunting as foes. So are imaginary bogeymen like the Deep State. How could there be a more hopeless war than one waged against an enemy that does not actually exist?

There will always be uncertainty and real danger in the world. Reality is scary enough. With the recent rise in disinformation, though, we have seen the fright level inch up a notch. These kinds of lies, coming as they do from the highest and most trusted sources, only make our feelings of helplessness worse. And now that the rot of mendacity has spread down to street level, lying for gain on any subject has become a cottage industry.

So we are all a little on edge. Norms and ways of being that used to be taken for granted are suddenly under threat. The foundations of our way of life appear to be weakening — all across the political spectrum.

Fear and rage and even irrationality are perfectly appropriate responses to all that. But emotionality is something we can live with. What we can’t abide is oppressing one another. If we are looking for something to control, that seems like a good place to start.
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Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz