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August 23rd, 2020

About A Coming Out Story

I’ve arrived at a critical point in my story…the part where I finally come out to myself. But it begins with a crucial bit of it I haven’t scripted yet, and which I am still having difficulty scripting to my satisfaction. Thus, the delay. Again.

I’ve bumped up to the part of my story where I and the object of my affections take things to the next level (so to speak) and actually begin talking to each other, as opposed to just gawking at each other. They say the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. In this case, I’m telling a story about true events, but in a cartoon form that’s hopefully humorous enough that all the gay teen angst and pain and sorrow is easier to digest. It was a hostile world I came of age into. You got a torrent of abuse hurled at you from every direction. And even when some corner of the culture was trying to be sympathetic to you, it was a rancid sort of pity you got. I hope by now anyone following my story isn’t wondering why we just didn’t start talking to each other about our feelings. As it turns out, we were both scared. His way of handling that and mine were different enough, and the cultures we were born to different enough, to make reading each other nearly impossible. So we drug it out for months and months.

But just in case anyone is still wondering, I hit on the idea of intermingling this part of the story with flash forwards of something that really did happen after the fact of my coming out to myself. As I’ve said repeatedly, the story I’m telling is one part things that really happened, one part artistic license, and one part fantasy. In this case, the thing that really happened was I was listening to a radio program where some self styled expert was talking about “the homosexual problem”. I wish I could remember the man’s name, or the title of the show, but it is too deeply buried in memory now. But I clearly recall the impact it had on me at that moment. Audiences nowadays might be repulsed at the shear ignorant bigotry of what the man was saying about homosexuals, but it was pretty standard fare for that period in America. Somewhere toward the end of his presentation, he said that the absolute worst thing a man could admit to, was being a homosexual.

That hit my stubborn nerve…ask anyone who knows me about my stubborn nerve…and I did something immediately afterward that lifted me up, and has sustained me ever since. At some point I really want to get the story to that moment because it’s actually the climax of the entire story, although there is still a lot that comes after it.

I decided to frame it as a series of passages from a book that I’m reading, authored by a self styled expert on “the homosexual problem”. I stole the author’s name from a panel in a cartoon the great underground cartoonist Howard Cruse did, titled Sometimes I Get So Mad… (You can find a copy of it in his collection Dancing Nekkid With The Angels). I emailed him a link to the finished first episode in the story arc, not knowing how ill he had become, and to my everlasting gratitude he once again complimented me on the story, and encouraged me to keep at it because of how important it is for us to tell our stories, because that is how we defeat hate. A few weeks later he was gone. I was, and still am, stunned. I cannot begin to tell you how big an influence he was on me. In a world where even underground cartoonists, sexually liberated though they regarded themselves, were often ignorant, bigoted and hostile toward gay readers, most of whom were either teens or young adults, Howard’s cartoons were lifesavers for many of us. 

I was hoping to push through a bunch of episodes using the device of flashing forward to my reading this book, with passages in it taken from actual publications by both homophobic and mainstream media. Alas, I’m bumping up against the reality of what happened, which is not a simple straightforward timeline of moving from gawking at each other to talking to the moment he put an arm around my shoulders and I went into the stratosphere. That was several months in the making and it was a very convoluted process that played out in our school hallways, the cafeteria, the gym, the Spring Fair (I’ve already flashed forward to that), and the library. It was fearful baby steps forward, then back again, then forward again, and then to some strange only in the early 1970s landscape where we could talk about everything but the lavender elephant in the room. Somehow I have to make a simple cartoon story out of it and I’m still not sure how to. But I’m working on it now.

Because this is such a critical part of the story I need to have a clear picture in my head of how I’m going to tell it, and that clear picture isn’t coming easily. I need to buckle down to it…just push everything else off the table until I get this right. When you see the next episode appear, hopefully in the next few weeks, you’ll know I’ve got it.

Then I need to just keep drawing it…

 

by Bruce | Link | React!

February 16th, 2020

A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)

Continuing with the Intermission, wherein I’ve sought answers about my sexual orientation in the bookstore, and purchased Doctor Pompous J. Fraudquack’s The TRUTH About Homosexuality…and I begin to read…

Intermission – What I Learned About Homosexuality. . . And Myself (Part 2)

I’m going to interleave this little story arc with the one I’m currently presenting, so if it gets a tad confusing blame my poorly developed storytelling skills. But this is where it’s all been building to. The subtitle of the cartoon is after all, The first person you come out to, is yourself. For some gay kids that isn’t easy, and it especially was not back in 1971.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story…Intermission 2…(continued)

February 5th, 2020

A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .

In which our hero discovers zipper anxiety…

A Coming Out Story…Episode 29 “Are You Serious?”

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 29. . .

February 3rd, 2020

A Coming Out Story…Please Stand By…

A Coming Out Story, episode 29, is…er…coming out slowly. So I’ve been putting up the strips as I’ve finished them, if you want to take a pre-release peak. This is why I’ve been a bit lax in posted to the blog here. I’ve been spending all my free time in the art room.

I have the last two panels up now, but they’re unfinished as yet. As I add details and such I’ll update them. When it’s all finished I’ll post a link, but anyone who’s been following this story already knows where to go.

I don’t know if I’ll continue doing this posting the unfinished strips as I go along. This particular episode is where the story takes an important turn, and soon the kid I once was will have to deal with a wee bit of self discovery…or more specifically the end of denial. After the heart attack last October I’m feeling some pressure to get this thing finished while I still have time to finish it. And there is still a lot of it left to go. This one has been so time consuming. I’m gonna try to make the episodes a bit smaller in size from now on. This one I could have easily split into two separate ones.

The last two strips in episode 29 involve…boots. 60s, early 70s boots guys wore, with a zipper down the side for getting in and out of them. The ones in question were black leather, and before I started work on this episode I had an idea of how to do them in the monochrome/cross hatching technique I’ve been using throughout the series, but I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Getting a three dimensional lighting effect off a material that’s dark and unreflective to begin with isn’t something I was sure I could do.

This is where my utter lack of formal training really bites me. But I’ve been working with this stuff for decades now, and I had a hunch about how to go about representing it. Plus, and this was a big help, I had a photograph of the incident in question to work from for reference. So I could see what the end result was that I had to get to, I just wasn’t sure I knew how to get there. But I just now gave it a shot and I’m really happy with the outcome. Looks better than I’d hoped. This is how untrained hunt and peck artists get their self respect points.

I’m done with Photoshop and anything basically to do with Adobe. I paid full price for a Windows copy of Photoshop so I could run it on my Windows laptop if my art room Mac crapped out on me in the middle of something I was working on. Some months ago Adobe bricked my copy on the basis that I’d bought a bulk license copy from the reseller and that license had expired…several months before I bought the copy. This despite the fact that Adobe went ahead and activated my copy anyway, and let me keep on using it for two more years. So one morning I start Photoshop and instead if getting my desktop I got a HUGE popup telling me my copy was invalid and demanding I fix the problem. And of course the fix would have been to start renting the product instead of buying a new perpetual license since they don’t sell those anymore. Now it’s all rental software. And I am not the only one by far who isn’t taking that bait. But that’s obviously why they bricked my copy.  It wasn’t a problem when I activated it, and I’ve spent thousands over the years on Adobe software and before now considered myself a loyal customer. But their software rental policy isn’t working out very well for them, judging by the static they’re constantly getting on the social media forums, so they started looking for excuses to turn off anyone’s copies they could, to try and force those of us who were standing pat on CS6, the last perpetual license they sold, to become renters. 

When I called support and complained that I’d paid full price for that copy the corporate droid at the other end told me to feel sorry for all the money Adobe has lost to piracy. At some point I need to make a Sorry For Your Loss sympathy card to send to Adobe for all the money they’ve lost to artists who’ve gone elsewhere due to their software rental scheme. I’ll make it with GIMP.

The current version of GIMP is working out very nicely for my online artwork. In some ways it’s even better than Photoshop. At some point I need to find alternatives to Lightroom. mark my words, sooner or later they will turn off everyone’s perpetual licensed copies because they can. Somewhere buried in all those license agreements you have to agree to, is a clause allowing Adobe to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement whenever they want. When you buy software that can be turned off remotely whenever the maker wants you have bought nothing.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story…Please Stand By…

March 26th, 2018

Back To Work On A Coming Out Story…

Back home from Florida, with renewed energy and determination to complete A Coming Out Story, and to tell it like it was. Funny how that always happens lately. 

I’m not naming any actual names except my own (well…and one teacher who was amazing), and I’ve made it clear repeatedly that the story is one third things that actually happened to me, one third artistic license (time compression, reordering / relocating certain events) and one third pure fantasy (such as my libido didn’t actually materialize as a naked but for fig leaf me). Hopefully this allows my classmates some plausible deniability. Teenagers do things that adults wouldn’t necessarily want on their resumes.

Tom Clancy once said that the difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense. This story is me trying to make sense of what happened to me back in high school when, as the subtitle says, the first person you come out to is yourself. I’ve a new story arc to start soon, A Conversation With God, that’s mostly me trying desperately to figure out why I’m getting myself all tied up in knots over a certain someone, especially when he smiles at me. After that story arc things start getting…interesting.

It was a different world. The best of times, the worst of times, as the saying goes…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Back To Work On A Coming Out Story…

December 9th, 2017

A Coming Out Story, Episode 23: Consulting The Oracle

…in which our hero consults with a world renown and highly respected seer to learn what the F*** is going on with him!

Episode 23 of A Coming Out Story…Here.

A Coming Out Story – Main Page…Here.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story, Episode 23: Consulting The Oracle

December 4th, 2017

A Coming Out Story, Episode 23 On The Way!

ETA Sunday, December 10…

One of the cool things about doing A Coming Out Story is I get to bring back to life for a bit my beloved Rockville as it used to be when I was a kid. This episode takes place in the Congressional Plaza that once was. I used to burn off tons of nervous energy walking from the apartments at Village Square West to Congressional and then to the Super Giant and Korvettes and back down Randolph Road to home. But even before then, when mom and I lived in Courthouse Square, the Plaza was a center of gravity. And to this day I have a fondness for that 1950s-60s stack stone treatment on the facades of the storefronts. It will always take me back whenever I see it.

And oh God…you don’t want to see what they did to it now. But that’s okay. I can bring it back to life as it was in my artwork…

In this episode I consult with a world renown and highly respected oracle for some insight as to what the hell is going on with me. Here’s some work-in-progress. I’ve got panel one of the tale pretty much done. The inks and dialogue in panels 2 and 3 are ready for lighting and texturing treatments. I do all my initial artwork in traditional media, but then I scan it in and finish it in Photoshop…

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story, Episode 23 On The Way!

February 5th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos

…in which our hero discovers that knowledge isn’t necessarily power.

acos_22-sm

A Coming Out Story, Episode 22…Here.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – The Zen of Tacos

February 4th, 2017

A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses

In which our hero learns that  fast food can be bad for the heart…

acos21-sm

A Coming Out Story…Episode 21…is Here.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 21: The Pause That Distresses

December 30th, 2016

A Coming Out Story – Episode 20: Why Do You Ask?

In which our hero  tries to figure out football…and himself…

acos-20-sm

A Coming Out Story – Episode 20…

Main Page.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Episode 20: Why Do You Ask?

December 27th, 2016

FYI – A Coming Out Story Episode 20 Coming Soon

I’m on holiday vacation for the next couple weeks and I’m using my time at home to work on A Coming Out Story. Hoping to finish up the pencils and inks and scans on Episode 20 by the end of the day today. After that it’s mostly just adding the text and the texturing, getting the HTML pages made and uploading all of it. Probably get it all done by Friday

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on FYI – A Coming Out Story Episode 20 Coming Soon

August 3rd, 2016

A Coming Out Story #20…Please Stand By…

Actually managing now to get some work done on ACOS #20 and the start of its next chapter. Here’s the first row of panels in progress…

acos_20_in_progress

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story #20…Please Stand By…

May 9th, 2016

Trying Something Different For A Coming Out Story Episode 20

It’s been slow going getting these episodes out. In part that’s because I have a job  that uses up a lot of my daily  reserves of concentration. In part it’s the roller coaster from hell I’ve been put on since I re-connected with the object of my affections back then. And truthfully, in part because I never really know exactly how I’m going to do an episode until I’ve finished it. Many of the episodes I’ve finished  in the past few years have had bits tacked on the front and back, and some dialogue reworked, as I’ve come to understand the material better.

I want to try something different with episodes 20 and 21. Instead of doing all the pencils and inks and finishing up the entire episode before posting it. Hopefully it will seem like installments of a weekly (or semi weekly) comic strip until each episode is complete. I think given the scripts for these two episodes that’ll work.

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Trying Something Different For A Coming Out Story Episode 20

April 18th, 2016

How To Make An Episode Of “A Coming Out Story”…

Sketching in preparation for work on A Coming Out Story,  episode 20. It begins another short story arc with me having been tasked by the student newspaper to cover one of our home games…and then I stumble into the object of my thoroughly confused affections and try to strike up a conversation. Little teenage geeks don’t do conversation well however, and especially while the butterflies in their stomach are fluttering up a storm…

acos_20_sketches

I’ve been posing myself a bunch lately to get the posture of my figures right. I do that with the digital SLR on a tripod, and a  remote shutter release with a long extension cable. Then I scroll through the images on the camera’s lcd display to find a good pose and work from there. It doesn’t matter that I’m no longer that lithe (scrawny) teenage boy I once was, all I need is to see how the anatomy works, how the hands and arms reach around to the camera, how the body stands while I’m busy with the camera, legs, torso, head, how the camera bag hangs off the shoulder.  Once I can see it I can draw something that gets the look right.  

I still have the camera I did most of my student newspaper and yearbook stuff with, but as it turns out I also still have that camera bag from back in the day. I’d almost forgotten how it was to have both the camera and that “gadget bag” with spare film, filters, flash, batteries, light meter, and several lenses, hoods and lens cleaner in it slung around me. It was Heavy! Nowadays when I’m a working photographer I have a smaller, lighter bag that just holds a few essential things because with the new DSLRs and modern zoom lenses you don’t really need much extra.

This next story arc is a lot funner than the last one…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How To Make An Episode Of “A Coming Out Story”…

April 7th, 2016

A Coming Out Story: Intermission – The Business of Tacos

Finished (finally!) another installment of A Coming Out Story. This is an Intermission to separate the first part of the story, which I finished with Episode 19, and what’s to come.Some of you may have already seen this one when I posted a link to the finished inks last Thanksgiving. I’ve since added the texturing and shading, and tweaked the dialogue balloons a tad. The shading really makes the artwork pop out I think.

The next part coming up is where the object of my affections and I actually begin talking to each other, and circling around each other in an age when gay kids were getting fed horrible lies about themselves from every direction. First crushes are hard enough for kids to deal with. For gay kids back when me and “T.K.” (not his real name) it was especially difficult. The worst of it was in 1971-72 there was no way you could talk about it with anyone. So you pretty much had to stumble your way around, trying to figure out what was going on inside of you, and then what to you do about this crush you’re having. How can you tell if the object of your affections is feeling the same way. One false move could be a disaster…for both of you.

That said, it’s not like it was a complete and total nightmare for me either. Mostly it was a lot of confusion. I can look back on most of it now with a sense of humor. Hopefully I can put some of that into the story going forward. What’s coming next is a short story arc wherein I finally break the ice with the object of my affections, after being tagged by the student newspaper to cover one of our football games.

But first, I figured I’d toss out here a little intermission of sorts…just to give anyone who’s still hanging on to this tale a wee taste of what’s to come in the second part. Enjoy. And thanks so much for staying tuned!

The Business Of Tacos

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story: Intermission – The Business of Tacos

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

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