January 24th, 2010


Equal Opportunity Stupidity

And here, I thought I was unusual.

I am an independent Christian.  I don't subscribe to any particular subset, as I have problems with each of them.  I worship Christ, not a church.  My pal mornblade  describes me as an anarchristian, a word he coined, no matter what those idiots online say.  That's a polite way of saying "renegade".  Those who know me weren't the least surprised when I started firing broadsides at self-righteous religious folks in Stress Puppy (Loose Canons is still one of the favorite storylines, and Porpoise Driven Life gets a lot of snaps).  But I thought religious opportunism and people like me who openly mock the contradictions, wrongheadedness, and heartlessness of organized religious were a uniquely Christian phenomena.  I hadn't heard of it happening with any other major denominations...

...and the wizard pulls aside the curtain.

There's a weekly Jewish newspaper called Forward, and they have a columnist named Eli Valley.  Valley made a cartoon called "The Odd Couple" that, to be polite, questions ulta-Orthodox Judaism and outreach programs.  You can see it here on the right.  It isn't very subtle.  In other words, it's right up my alley.

Well, Rabbi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, writes on Cross Currents:

"Jewish religious sources maintain that catastrophes, even when they do not directly affect Jews, are nevertheless messages for them, wake-up calls to change for the better. Insurers call such occurrences ?Acts of G-d.? For Jews, the phrase is apt, and very such lamentable event demands a personal response...

The very week of the recent catastrophe in Haiti, a national Jewish newspaper published a comic strip featuring grotesque depictions of religious Jews and aimed at disparaging Jewish outreach to other Jews. And another Jewish newspaper ran an editorial placing the alleged ugly sins of an individual at the feet of Jewish rabbinic leaders, simply because the presumed sinner, before he was exposed, had arranged for several respected rabbis to deliver lectures and had encouraged people to make donations to their institutions. Having thus ?established? guilt by that association, the editorialist demanded that every Orthodox organization and rabbinic leader publicly condemn the alleged sinner or be smeared themselves with sin. Then he mocked rabbinic authorities as a group for, instead of issuing condemnations of sinners, rendering decisions on social and halachic matters, as if that were not precisely what rabbis are for."

So, just to make sure we're clear, he's saying the Haitian earthquakes are God's way of letting Jews know that Eli Valley's cartoon shouldn't have been printed, drawn, or even thought up.  Nice.  Somehow, when I think "interfaith," this isn't what I have in mind.

The Beginning Of The End

I'm about to go to bed.  I've spent all day working on Head Above Water.  How am I doing?

I have the first page of #5 done.

It's only now, with the art supplies put away, my work stuff waiting by the door, and me ready to rejoin the regular world for forty hours this week, that it's starting to sink in.

Head Above Water is five issues long.  I am on pace for the March or April launch.  But the last issue of the series has a different vibe than the others.

Really quick, this is for anyone who will read it, I want to clarify something.  When I say, "I worked really hard on this," it does NOT mean, "I worked really hard on this, please praise it and make me feel important."  It means, "I worked really hard on this, and I want to know if I achieved what I set out to do."  This story was extremely difficult to write, because I knew exactly what I was aiming for, from the story to the pacing to the emotional reactions to....  The question is, did I do what I needed to do?  Did I present the story in a way that makes everything I was working towards happen?  So when you read it, I want your absolute honest opinion.  Because, if I get this worked up about another project, I want to know I'm heading in the right direction as far as presenting it.

The first four issues have been setting up the central character's situation.  I've been building to the climax that is issue #5.  As I look over the script and start working on the pages, my reaction is not a marathon runner's.  It's not, "This is almost over, just a little further."  Basically, everything introduced in the first four issues ties together and is dealt with in #5.  It's intimidating, because, if I haven't done the build-up correctly, everything in #5 is just another series of events instead of the Ultimate Conflict and the story loses its emotional punch.  And if I did #1-4 correctly but fumble #5, then all the effort and investment readers make in #1-4 is wasted.  All the issues focus on the inner turmoil of the central character, but this is where it either pays off or sevens out.

I'll find out soon enough if I pulled it off.  I'm hoping I did, but I'm the writer.  The real test is how the readers react to it.

It's frightening.

It's scary.

And I can't wait to see if the horseshoe I've thrown makes it in the ring....