This was the oldest I ever felt in my entire life.
Keep the Mountain to Your Right
Four days, three nights, roughly 41 miles, all of it with some sixty pounds of gear and food strapped to my back. While on the trail, I made a comic when I woke up, one when I stopped for lunch, one next to the fire in camp in the evening, and one during my normal time: at night, right before I fell asleep.
Day One began at the Timberline Lodge with 40 mile an hour winds making me seriously question some of my assumptions about the trail. I said my electronic goodbyes, pulled on the coat I thought was just for emergencies, and hiked the ten miles to Ramona Falls.
Day Two was probably the most solitary day, and certainly the one with the most forest to walk through. I climbed Bald Mountain, I walked about 10 miles, and I camped out at Coe Creek.
On Day Three I faced the difficult and dangerous crossing at Eliot Creek. Along the way I met Richard, a 20 year old who was also solo hiking the trail. We’d somehow started at the same time but not bumped into each other. He became my traveling companion until the last stretch of the hike on Sunday.
We talked about life, hiking, relationships, our childhoods, and a hundred other secret things that we only shared with the rocks and trees.
The final day was across long, open stretches with nothing but harsh sunlight to keep us company. I was tired, but the end was so close.
I’m writing this weeks later and could tell you a thousand details that I missed in these comics and in the stories I’ve told friends and loved ones, but the main thing I want you to know is:
I miss the mountain.
I have told one hundred versions of the story of this tattoo and this is the one I decided to put on paper.
If there seem to be punchlines here that you don’t quite understand, then it’s because you don’t get the Peanuts references that are peppered throughout these four pages. The solution to this, of course, is to go read Peanuts comics until all of this makes sense to you.
Of course, I think the solution to most of life’s problems is to read more Peanuts comics.
If … anyone thinks I’ve referenced too heavily and need to change anything for legal reasons, just shoot me a message. Especially if you’re big, scary lawyers. I love Schulz and his work with all of my heart.
A Survivor’s Story
Warning: This comic contains content that may be considered graphic or unsettling.
This is the story of how I was molested as a child and what events in my adult life led me to realize that I had to deal with this to be healthy. Fellow survivors and those who are sensitive to this type of material may be triggered by the story that follows. While this comic has always been considered mature content, this entry should be considered especially so.
If you are a survivor, you are not alone.
This was the lesson I had to learn. Once life had put me on a path where I could no longer ignore what had happened to me, I didn’t have any choice but to face this. While in many ways I faced it alone, I found resources and groups that showed me that I wasn’t alone and that I was going to be okay.
I don’t know your story, but I know that you aren’t alone and you will be okay, too.
In 2009, my former art teacher, Mr. Joe Bell called me to ask if I would be interested in helping with Highland High School’s production of Grease. He didn’t have enough boys for all the roles and no one who could pull off Beauty School Dropout. He’d gotten permission to have a alum come in alumni to come in and perform the song.
He didn’t know it at the time, but I truly believe that his phone call saved my life.
I was sliding into a suicidal depression that continued into late 2010, one that nearly claimed my life. Without the catharsis and connection that the stage offered me, I don’t know that I would have survived this period.
The years since have been some of my most difficult, but also some of the absolute best. I’ve seen things and felt things I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve met people who have changed my outlook on the world and been, in some small way, an inspiration to others around me.
All because of a call from a high school art teacher.
So, I dedicate this to all of the teachers that ever reached out to me and specifically to Joe Bell. You changed my life. You saved my life.
This was the first comic that I made with the idea that would become “Life and How to Live It” in mind. The first time I consciously decided to use comics to capture something very real about my life without filtering it.
I think this also marks the first time (but not the last) that you’ll see my part on the wrong side of my head.
This was a bizarre dream I had shortly before I moved to Chicago last year. I was living in Ohio, feeling stuck, sad over a breakup, and worried that I was taking on too much by moving to a new city where I only knew a handful of people with no job lined up and only a few thousand dollars in the bank.
This was probably the first comic work I had done in five years and I essentially saw it as my chance to experiment with the form again. I won’t claim all of the experiments here were successful, but this is what rekindled my love of making comics.
I was quite tempted to go back and redo these pages (including doing a hand-drawn version of Jon Hamm’s head for the repeated image), but decided to leave it exactly as it was the day I scanned it about a year ago.
On April 1st, 2012 I took control of my life.
Sure, I laid the groundwork before that (reading the book that became the basis of my initial changes, beginning divorce proceedings, reclaiming my old house as my own), but that was the day that my diet officially began.
To celebrate the difference I made in my life two years ago, I decided that today would be the day that I secured my domain and set up a launch page for the autobiographical webcomic I’ve been working on, “Life and How to Live It.”
This isn’t the official launch (which will include an update schedule and a revamp to make things personal and professional), but this is my promise of things to come.
I hope you’ll join me in this new adventure.