4.15.2009

IMAGES THAT SING

IMAGES THAT SING

There is this moment I think about all the time from The Young Ones. The Young Ones was an ensemble comedy TV show from the early 1980s on BBC about 4 horrible college students who hate each other, and live together in squalor. Vivian, the house “punk” has devised a trick involving a fake finger and a kitchen knife. The other three roommates are hollering and fighting amongst themselves, while Vivian is shouting over them, trying to get their attention, wildly brandishing his cleaver, screaming “Watch my trick you bastards!”

That’s it. That’s the moment. For some reason, this image resonates with me, sings in me, stops me in my tracks and makes me smile sometimes. I don’t know why. I don’t need to know why for it to move me.

But if I think I about it, I understand: It echos my need for attention, my glee for silly grotesqueries, and my delight in brazenly demanding what you need from people. Something about those qualities make me love this moment- this dramatized, actualized, manifestation of those themes in my life. I am haunted by the Jon Lewis image below of a frog, caught by humans and put before a microphone, for the same reason, I think.

In fact, when I look at the last 2 1/2 years of my comic output, I now realize this was the governing theme of that work: trying to be heard. No wonder these images speak to me so much.

We all experience images from narratives this way. There are always moments that sticks with us, for reasons we may uncover later.

I asked a couple friends for their “images that sing” and here’s what I heard.

One friend says he always remembers a moment from a 40s-era Dick Tracy comic strip, where the villain, The Brow is being squashed by a Spike Machine. The brow is desperately crying: “Oww. Somebody stop the spike machine.” Another friend said that an image from the movie The Shining always haunts her, of the Shelly Duval character dragging a knocked out Jack Nicholson character down the hall and locking him into a food closet.

The first image is about pain, helplessness, and a desire for some sort of human connection. The second, about empowerment after feeling victimized by someone you love.

What are your Images That Sing? What are they about? Pay attention to those, like anything you attend to, they will grow. More will appear, and they will strengthen your own work.

EXERCISE - IMAGES THAT SING

Do this yourself. Right now note a moment from a story that sticks with you. This might be hard except when you’re not trying. That’s ok. Remember this exercise for a week. Write down all those images that pop into your head the ones that yank or push you forward or backward in your day.

Draw one. Transmute it into a drawing with your characters.

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