See this picture? This is a picture of me on a Saturday night. But, it could just as easily be a picture of me on the other six nights. Or mornings. Or a really weird and dark afternoon. If you were standing in my backyard (hope you called first… just standing there without me knowing is trespassing) this is what you’d see.
This stuff is hard. And parts of it never get any easier.
Mechanics get easier: the prepping, the inking, the scanning…I’m damn near robotic when it comes to that. Getting to the mechanics… that the bit that never gets easier. The staring at a notebook. The premise that doesn’t fit the characters. The paralyzing fear that I’m going to plagiarize myself (also known as repeating myself). That dialog that is not good. That idea that, even with adrenaline needles stuck in it, just doesn’t want to live.
I’m not stating that to get credit or sympathy… but it’s true.
I took this picture because I wanted to see what the hard part looked like.
Life in the middle. I don’t feel it. Well, I take that back… sometimes I feel it. When I get up in the morning: the stiffness of the night takes a bit more of the morning to work out than it once had. When I look in the mirror: I’m seeing more of my forehead and less of my hair… and the hair I do see is slightly peppered with salt.
I tend to think about life way more… which is saying a lot considering I do that all the time anyway… I think about my family more… and see that priorities, proclivities, intentions, inclinations and perspectives have shifted to such a degree that… I’m just a different person. I’ve always thought about tomorrow, it’s just now there’s less tomorrow to think about.
I’ve lived long enough to see patterns and cycles complete and come back again. I’ve lived long enough to see that I am now the generation younger generations look to. Living is now attached to a responsibility I never had before. I really don’t want that responsibility, but as my mother always said, “Tough sh-t, you have to deal with it.”
As a kid, I remember grown-ups being so… grown up. I see that they were as old then as I am now. Why don’t I act like them? I don’t feel it at all.
I tend to look at the sky and clouds more. I try and jam more feeling and thoughts into my brain. Extra memories for the days I can’t make as many. I worry. I obsess. The problem with constantly thinking about tomorrow is that you neglect today. I’m working on that too.
The notion that we are all “works in progress” is more apparent to me than it ever was. We’re not perfect out of the box.
The tone of the strip is changing to reflect this part of the life cycle. It wasn’t from design, it’s just organic. I can’t help it… it goes where it goes. It’d be foolish to even try and write from the perspective of the 26-year-old who began this journey. It wouldn’t work. It is what it is: a little stiffer, more mature with a dash of experience and bitterness.
I welcome you to the dawning (and drawing) of Frank’s middle age.