Harts Pass no. 517

For the better part of ten years, I have published a comic strip in my local newspaper, The Methow Valley News. It’s a small thing, yes, but making this simple little comic each week is a hugely important artistic act for me.

Each strip feels like the improv game “Yes, And!” I have characters, yes, a trio of wolverines that somewhat approximate my family, but otherwise I take things in from the week, the news, the actual lives of wildlife in the north cascades, and, I try to act quickly to spin out some ideas. Then I commit. I get free and total reign from the editor (accept for the occasional typo), but I do have some deadlines to keep me accountable. Each week I engage with a relatively quick and low-stakes (not much pay) creative process in order to share something with my community. It’s SO satisfying.

Humor is a part of it, but I know for sure that many of my comics are far from “funny”. I also like the writing/drawing challenge and the synthesizing current events or emotional touchstones challenge. And the “synthesizing” part is really important. If children’s books are short, then comic strips are succinct verging on terse. There is so little space and time in which to communicate an idea. It’s a game for sure, and an important part of the appeal. Some days it works, and some days it feels a LOT more forced.

I could go on for sure, but on this final week of a tumultuous year, I’ll keep this relevant with a nod to the feelings of “GRRR-Attitude” that inspired this recent strip.

Covid-19 and the global pandemic clearly inspired most of my 2020 comics. And despite hopeful news of a vaccine we are far from finished with its influence. We need the single-minded grit and tenacity of a wolverine to guide us. We need the fight. We need the willingness to adapt to our surroundings, and we need to keep going no matter what. The wolverine does this for itself and its family. We need to do it for ourselves and for our communities.

Thank you beyond words to the many doctors, nurses, front-line workers, teachers and others who have put themselves in harms way for months on end. I can say with absolute certainty that I am grateful for your service.

A new year awaits. Be safe.


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