gabby's playhouse

a gabby schulz & ken dahl internet repository

gabby's playhouse

in search of the D (edited)

Not that i needed any more evidence that this cold, dirty, violent and bitter northern sports-city might be killing me, but this week a doctor diagnosed me with a severe vitamin-D deficiency, which could be the root of why my body & mind are falling apart. Hopefully that means my mood & health will improve after i take some special blue pills for a month, and then taper down to supplements, thus saving myself from literal rickets — not to mention the lifetime of persistent suicidal ideations that makes me such a hit at parties.

I don’t get super woo about cosmic signs and confluences, but it is tempting to see this diagnosis as a subtle hint to move back home to Hawai’i. The truth is, i have been acutely homesick for years now. Maybe it’s time to give up on my lifelong ambition to be accepted by the Real World of The Mainland. Maybe now’s a good time to cash my chips & let it all go — while there’s still some life left in the acidifying & cesiumed-up ocean; before climate collapse grinds the tradewinds to a halt; before Honolulu finally becomes completely indistinguishable from SoCal. If there’s one thing Hawai’i has always excelled at indulging, it’s nostalgia. I could just ease back into another shit restaurant job in Waikiki, help my aging father with some household chores, keep drawing my little comics in cafes and posting them on my little website, for a couple people thousands of miles away — just like back in the ’90s (sans the website). I’ll go hiking a lot, take a poke at a graduate degree at the alma mater. Find a mushroom club, pick up a couple pet-portrait commissions. Watch some inter-office softball games; eat a lot more poke & shave ice & kal bi; go to a karaoke bar every now & then with friends who knew me since before i was a fully developed human being. Maybe even bolt a surfboard rack to my bicycle and finally become one of the old hermit surfer men i used to worry i would be if i never got off the island. I could just fade into a mist of anonymity, drugged up on tropical heat, tropical underemployment, and tropical irrelevance. In a word: retire.

Last night i dipped into Oahu’s craigslist rent & job listings, which forced me to visualize the logistics of really, actually moving back to my hometown. It stirred in me a potent and unresolved mix of longing and claustrophobic dread, much like one feels when imagining death’s release. For the first time in years i really remembered all the reasons i’d left: the restlessness of being stuck on a tiny, sedate island where shoes are formal wear; the constant dismal struggle to make the giant rents; the often (but definitely not always!) mediocre artistic scenes with largely unchanging casts; the perpetual one-direction “brain drain”; the endless parade of corny, boorish tourists reminding you that your life is less important than their holiday; the nagging fears that your creative & political projects are just unsolicited, self-indulgent and pretentious cultural affectations imported from overseas and forced on an environment that, honestly, is managing well enough without your help. Do i really want to move back to a place where people identify me more by which high school i attended than what comics i’ve drawn?

And furthermore, do my fears of returning to all that prove that i’ve spent the last 20 years living a lie, hiding my true nature form myself (and others) by putting an ocean between me and the inescapable facts of who i can’t stop being, and who i can never become?

How do you go back to just being a haole again, after you’ve spent so much time as a white guy? Who knows if i could even afford to; this economy sure doesn’t give beggars a whole lot of choices, but i gotta get out of this city somehow. It would really piss me off to die in Chicago.

Sorry that this is a lot of needless processing at your expense… but the content must flow. Thanks to all the people who responded to my requests for advice on my last couple posts. Now i’m going to go to bed to dream about surfing.

airhorn

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And so it begins. As haggard and frostbit as these incredibly overpriced little nubs of commodified wilderness may be, they serve as testament that somewhere out there — undoubtedly much further south than chicago — the fungi have begun plotting…

Stay tuned for incoming (& most likely fruitless) Nature Pics

instagrim

Our younger, hipper coworker keeps insisting that it’s way cooler to have an instagram than an actual website. Although instagram seems like an even more vacuous waste of time and privacy than twitter, i’m not quite ready to lay down and die completely just yet — so tonight i locked the 21st century in a big greasy bear hug, gave The Man unfettered eternal access and reuse rights to my camera, microphone and contact list, and downloaded the instagram app: @gabbyschulz

Doing this, i found out that i had in fact actually already made an instagram account back in 2012, when i’d borrowed an iTouch for my big trip to France & Belgium (for a couple Monsters book-signings). It looks like i’d taken about 4 crappy, hackneyed pictures before finding out that free wifi in Europe was scarcer than presumed, and that my week could definitely be better spent not sitting in a McDonald’s in Paris uploading blurry pictures of tourist crap to exactly zero followers. (These are still the only pictures on my instagram account, as of this morning.)

In the past 4 years of its dormancy, it looks like some people have found my account somehow (probably facebook?) and followed me. Well, imagine their surprise when my instagram springs to life again this week. Imagine my surprise, considering i still have no idea how (or why) to even use instagram. What am i supposed to put on there? Selfies? #foodporn? Double rainbows? Am i even allowed to use instagram without a car?

I’m told this pictoral TMI is like a spa treatment for my personal brand, but if you want pictures of my food, prepare for Taco Bell three times a week. And if you want artfully cropped, egregiously filtered glimpses of my private life/naked body flooding your phone, expect to be bored senseless — i’m a perpetually clothed walking antidote to narcissism, and my daily life mostly consists of farting around a bookstore (that already has its own instagram account), then biking home to eat eggs. On my weekends i bike to a coffee shop and draw. I used to go to a bar alone and play Dr. Mario, but now i don’t even do that, since i’m trying to save money to get out of Chicago. Will instagram help me get out of Chicago?

Seriously though i need help using instagram because i’m like double the age of its oldest average user, and do not actually have any friends or fun irl. Please tell me how to instagram. @gabbyschulz

I’m sorry for all of this btw

in short

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I tried to make a list of things that were “chicago” and found out most (but not all) of these things are not things i am very much into.

Not included: driving; driving large SUVs; honking while driving large SUVs; living in suburbs; racist cops; indoor rock-climbing; not minding pollution; Stalinists; socialists; literal white supremacists; Zizek fans (see Stalinists, above); John Belushi; spray tanning; automated car washes; steakhouses; craft beer; the band Chicago

Anyone got any hot relocation tips? I am dreaming of not being in the state of Illinois by 2017 (no offense to John Belushi, et. al.). Alls i want out of life is ruthlessly low rent in a nice college town with a few low-skilled jobs dangling within reach, very far from industrial toxins and very near a whole lot of woods containing as little tick-borne illness as possible. And maybe also a nice dog with short hair wandering around looking for a pal who can’t always afford the top-shelf kibble but will definitely be liberal with the treats and hangouts.

advice

Cartooning is a curse. Don’t let the posis tell you different. It might seem fun before the carpal issues settle in, but in the long run nothing will destroy you faster.

Now that i’m finished with another book, you’d think i’d be trying to figure out how to get into grad school, getting a hobby that actually makes money. But instead, i still spend all my free time drawing, as if drawing was just my personal prophylactic against reality (and profit).

But then, picking our own particular poison might be the only thing in this world we have resembling free will. Since i’m getting old enough to see the finish-line tape in minute detail, i’ve realized that i’m probably doomed to keep drawing for as long as my body allows (which means roughly between two weeks and four years, if my estimations are correct). And since what we optimistically call “mid-life” would be nothing without self-aggrandizing thoughts of one’s Posthumous Legacy, i’ve been thinking a whole lot lately about what longer work — very possibly my last — i should claw away at next.

Since Sick is basically begging not to be bought, i thought maybe the next time i spend a year (or five) drawing a long-form comic story (assuming i ever do again), it should probably be something with at least a small chance of selling copies and dragging me out of retail. And before you click away in disgust, yes i know the odds of this are a pencil-shaving away from nil — but still, if i’m doomed to be a cartoonist, why not go whole-hog on the escapism, and dream just a little about literally being a cartoonist, in the actual, the-IRS-agrees sense, right? What i’m saying is, we’re trying to get that paper! And we don’t mean bristol!

So, like any desperate, pathetic failed artist riding that sweet spot between middle age and minimum wage, i’ve been busy sifting through the chicken entrails, trying to divine Just What The Fuck It Is Readers Want [to buy]. After realizing that all of my usual ideas involve angry screeds against basically everything constituting existence (and thus my readership), i decided that a much less-stupid way to go about this witchcraft is just to ask some readers what they want to read. And what better place to start than the one place on Earth i’m pretty sure i can contact people who read my comics — this website.

So, if anyone is actually reading all this: what do you think i should draw next? What kind of work would you want to see me draw, to the extent that you would actually pump some cash into a kickstarter or patreon? What is it that people keep wanting me to draw?

Just to show you how badly i need help with my Art Career, here are some recent ideas that i have sketched out or have already drawn a bit:

1. Shitcan: A Participant’s Guide to Collapse
A “comic” outline of the imminent destruction of everything we know, consisting of a deluge of horrific facts about how things are all swiftly and irrevocably ending, whether or not Bernie gets “elected” to head the Reichstag. Sounds fun!

2. Aloha Means Goodbye
An anti-colonialist history of the Hawaiian Islands, from white contact to the present, seen through the lens of my own childhood experiences there. (Because the world needs another Comic Memoir.)

3. Crass, pandering smut
People seem to buy a lot of story-driven cartoon porn at the bookstore where i work. It makes me think i should draw some too, and sell it. (Because the world really needs another depiction of straight white male-gaze sexual fantasy.)

4. An illustrated cartoon guide to mushrooms
Nothing inspires a dilettante like the opportunity to present themselves as an expert! This will basically be an excuse for me to draw nature a lot, by selling out its secrets to urban Whole Foods patrons.

5. The Normals
A story i started & abandoned around 2010, about the spread of a disease on a fictional island chain in the late 19th century. Got kind of hamfisted, but it was fun for a while. (For those wondering what i was wasting all my time drawing in New York in 2010-2011, this was it.)

6. The White Man’s Guide to Masculinity
So, patriarchy is p fucked up, and it’s p much everywhere, and no amount of callout culture or feminist process is going to fix it until men themselves start doing a better job of addressing it (and destroying it). That means creating a culture among men that’s actually interested in understanding how Manhood is constructed within patriarchal society. And we can’t do THAT until we actually figure out what the fuck manhood even means. Even today, with feminism taking its latest turn as watered-down buzzword in (patriarchal) mainstream media, it seems like the systems built on patriarchal oppression are stronger than ever. Cismen certainly don’t seem any less dominant these days, what with our recent obsessions with “pick-up artists,” being “alpha,” and all this other retrograde rapey-shooty shit floating around the marketplace (and hivemind). And so, big surprise: i thought i’d draw a comic about men. I have some Big Ideas on the subject — from titillating to downright soul-crushing — about how we construct ourselves as men, even post-Bowie, which i’d probably never share with the world unless somebody out there thought that a few thousand people would pay $20 to read them. There’s not many subjects out there that have gotten too little exploration, but masculinity is definitely one of them. At any rate it’s sure to piss off a few MRAs, which is almost payment in itself.

There’s more on my List of Sad Neglected Projects That Might Never Get Made, but i have to go clock in at my retail job now. I’d love to hear your comments on all this — “your” meaning you, even if you’re a jerk. How would you like to see me waste my life? TBH i’d also settle for a hot tip on a custodial library job in a small college town somewhere outside of Illinois.

Borges you to death

Matthew XXV:30 by Jorge Luis Borges

The first bridge, Constitution Station. At my feet
the shunting trains trace iron labyrinths.
Steam hisses up and up into the night,
which becomes at a stroke the night of the Last Judgment.

From the unseen horizon
and from the very center of my being,
an infinite voice pronounced these things–
things, not words. This is my feeble translation,
time-bound, of what was a single limitless Word:

“Stars, bread, libraries of East and West,
playing-cards, chessboards, galleries, skylights, cellars,
a human body to walk with on the earth,
fingernails, growing at nighttime and in death,
shadows for forgetting, mirrors busily multiplying,
cascades in music, gentlest of all time’s shapes.
Borders of Brazil, Uruguay, horses and mornings,
a bronze weight, a copy of the Grettir Saga,
algebra and fire, the charge at Junin in your blood,
days more crowded than Balzac, scent of the honeysuckle,
love and the imminence of love and intolerable remembering,
dreams like buried treasure, generous luck,
and memory itself, where a glance can make men dizzy —
all this was given to you, and with it
the ancient nourishment of heroes —
treachery, defeat, humiliation.
In vain have oceans been squandered on you,
in vain the sun, wonderfully seen through Whitman’s eyes.
You have used up the years and they have used up you,
and still, and still, you have not written the poem.”

(translated by Alastair Reid)

Milwaukee Ave.

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Still waiting on more news about my new books. Also planning to get a collection of diary comics printed, against all my own better judgement, in time for SPX (which i prob can’t afford to go to, but it’s nice to have deadlines). I keep forgetting i put the wordpress app on my phone, so i can take pictures of things i am drawing while i’m drawing them, because that’s what you’re supposed to do on your own website, right? (I’m presently inking a short comic about nature.)

art: a very big deal

“The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers.” -James Baldwin

“We have all the answers. It is the questions we do not know.” -Dostoyevksy

“Art is not a mirror reflecting society but a hammer to shape it.” -Bertolt Brecht, possibly via Trotsky

Yeah well