Last night I dreamed in comics. I’ve been reading a lot of Portland artist and zinester Clutch McBastard‘s collected works lately, and for weeks now it’s usually what I flip through just before I go to sleep. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before I started working the comics into my dreams. But this was the first time I’ve ever dreamed in cartoons, at least as an adult (Stratos and Man-at-Arms, from the He-Man cartoons, invaded my dreams through my bedroom window when I was in grade school, and the Care Bears and Superman once had a party in my house).
But last night I dreamed in 2-D line drawings very much in Clutch’s style, and the drawings were of me and characters from Clutch’s comics. We were riding bikes. I seemed to be enjoying myself, though there was an underlying sense of angst or ennui (probably both) ready to float up to the surface at any moment — much like in the Clutch comics. Which is why I love the Clutch series — the honesty and simplicity of these “diary” entries are engrossing, a kind of “reality comic” that, unlike the televised reality shows, actually is about real life, in all its mundanity and small glories and minute complexities. It’s simply lovely stuff.
When I woke this morning, I lay in bed a few minutes thinking about the dream, and I decided to try my hand at drawing this blog post. I didn’t get past the first panel, because I suck at drawing. I mean, I am REALLY bad.
Which got me wondering, why can’t I just sketch a few lines? Or rather, why don’t I have the patience and equanimity with myself to learn how to sketch a few lines? I know this is as much a learned and practiced skill as it is a talent — probably more a craft than an art — and as a writer, I fully believe in the importance of practice and the role of craft in the work I do. But for some reason I sketch a few lines of visual art and just plain give up.
It’s kind of sad, really, because I love what other people do with quick, simple lines. My wife, for example, can draw a killer caricature of me, and Eirik Gumeny, my cohort at Jersey Devil Press, did a really cool sketch of me for our staff bio page.
But I can’t draw myself or anyone else for the life of me.
At least I still have Clutch.