Paul Pope and Battling Boy, a Wild and Weird Vision of Gods and Other Worlds

It took me a long time to start—and then to finish—Battling Boy, the first in a series by Paul Pope, of comics fame and renown. I don’t think the expected continuation of the series has happened, at least not yet. Other books in the series are prequels. This first volume ends pretty abruptly.

But Paul has always been adept at crafting future worlds very unlike the tropes of shiny, glowing science fiction films and TV shows. His are gritty, chunky, dark, and diverse visions, and I find them endlessly inspiring and fun. He always seemed assured and able, where I felt the very opposite of those things.

Paul was among the few creators, including my cousin and me, who did a co-signing event back in the early 90s. It was my first one, ever, at Comix Experience in San Francisco. Paul brought the first THB, a massive 104-page issue, and seemed to me both then and now to be something of a rock star. A rock star wielding a brush as his instrument.

But for someone so clearly destined for worthy praise and continued success in the field, he was always kind and encouraging to me and my work. Technically, he was a peer, though I looked up to him and his confident process for being miles ahead of me and my stuff.

It still seems appropriate, the rock star mantel, as he’s grown in skill and popularity over the years. His stories and art are wonderful and strange, drawing all his influences through his brain and onto the page. I loved entering this world, and I’ll be there if and when he continues the story.

Strange Worlds That Exist in Half-Sleep and Dreams, and the Frustrating Difficulty of Bringing Them Into Reality

I often do these posts at the last shred of the day, when I’ve done everything I can for online classes and YouTube subs and there’s nothing to do but go to bed. Finishing the paintings and posts on my phone, though, often puts me in the twilight of consciousness. I’m falling in and out of sleep, sometimes, and it results in some amount of incoherent weirdness.

Harnessed properly, weirdness is a staple of art, and one of its draws. Mike Kelly’s installations come to mind. But on the edge of sleep and consciousness, it’s rarely anything more than half-formed. Things appear and disappear. My fingers type nonsense as I relax and rest them on the virtual keys. They make jagged strokes of color on the screen.

So the dreamlike weirdness that invokes or disturbs is, paradoxically, better created by the fully awake.

Everything and Then Some

Games can give us new perspectives, always good for new ideas. The way we at things should be different than the typical.

I’ve always loved strange, artsy video games that mess with tropes or conventions. Everything, by David O’Reilly, is one of those. I’ve just begun, but it’s already my favorite game experience of the last several months.

The movement is odd, especially when you’re animals and objects. Flipping end-over-end to get around is a little jarring—disturbing, even. But that’s part of the charm.

Everything and Then Some

Games can give us new perspectives, always good for new ideas. The way we at things should be different than the typical.

I’ve always loved strange, artsy video games that mess with tropes or conventions. Everything, by David O’Reilly, is one of those. I’ve just begun, but it’s already my favorite game experience of the last several months.

The movement is odd, especially when you’re animals and objects. Flipping end-over-end to get around is a little jarring—disturbing, even. But that’s part of the charm.

Passing Out at the Doctor’s Office

I was in for a check up, and they wanted to draw blood for testing. Fine, “but,” I added, “just so you know, I have fainted before, once, after they poked me four times in a row unsuccessfully,” which is something like I always say. Usually, they get a vein after one or two tries, and we all go our merry ways.

This time, however, the nurse kept digging in deeper, and it got to me, consciously and subconsciously. I felt myself slipping away as the burning in my left arm intensified and the room spun a slow circle.

I woke up on my back in the chair, fully reclined, while the nurse held my feet in the air. I guess that’s what they do to get better blood flow to your brain, maybe. It took a long time to recover, and I still have to go get blood drawn soon.

It’s weird that these kinds of altered consciousness exist. I had a very short dream while I was out, though I don’t remember it. It’s the kind of thing that artists have historically made work from, dreams and strange alterations. I do suspect the majority don’t involve such harrowing causes.

A Few Videos Full of Artistry

I don’t know why I haven’t ever seen Father John Misty’s music video for “Date Night.” It’s my favorite from his album God’s Favorite Customer, and this weirdness is all the better for racing by in under three minutes.


Jim Henson did a pilot for a proposed show in 1962 called Tales From the Tinkerdee. Typically brilliant and gloriously silly, it features Kermit as a minstrel who sings his lines as well as his songs.


Speaking of weird and silly, there are tons of Kids in the Hall sketches I think about now and then, and some I still am not sure I fully understand, but love them anyway. “Potato Salad,” a paean to domestic goddesses and the disorientation of daily mundanity resonates, but also makes me laugh really, really hard. Bruce McCullough’s recurring housewife character is both inane and charming.

The Time Dilation Effect on a Rainy Day

Today was a strange day. It seemed to stretch on for hours longer than it’s allotted time, when no matter what I did, there was still more time before work.

But it was nice, and reminded me of the sensation you get when you lose yourself in the flow of art making. Time just seems to open up and you lose yourself in the work. More of those days, please.

Cold Nights and the Intensity of Feeling Alive Mirror Creative Shifts

This is weird, but with winter, the shifts outside in temperature and severe weather can be like those inside.

The cold can be bracing, even exciting, provided we have someplace to be and to warm up again. Starting a creative project can be similar. If we have an idea of the end, of where we might be going, what it looks like to be done, the work can be a thrill.

Going in completely blind is really rare, and scary. We can shut down before we know it. We don’t need a road map, but we also don’t want a completely open-ended journey where we could be gone for a day or for 20 years. We lose patience and enthusiasm with a random wandering. Deciding on some kind of end is as good as knowing there’s a fire at home after the long walk from the bus stop.

The Weird and Haunting Final Duchamp Sculpture Is Seasonally Appropriate

I’m sharing this because it’s one of the few artworks I find actually scary. Incredible and fascinating, but also scary. It’s not a sudden, frightening type, but a deeper, more primal kind.

We look through a tiny hole and are confronted with a prone, naked body, only partially seen and still, in the sticks and brush. It might be catching an intimate moment, or it might be something grisly.

Marcel Duchamp spent more than 20 years working on Étant donnés in secret. His hidden dedication is one of the components of the work.

Something else—I’m ever so salty when I see a piece I like a lot and want to know more about its making, but I usually see simply “mixed media” in the medium area of the title card with no elaboration. What did you use? Gorilla bones? Model airplane parts? Camel spit?? It’s so often frustrating. Duchamp made sure we know damn well what went into his last creation:

Mixed media assemblage: (exterior) wooden door, iron nails, bricks, and stucco; (interior) bricks, velvet, wood, parchment over an armature of lead, steel, brass, synthetic putties and adhesives, aluminum sheet, welded steel-wire screen, and wood; Peg-Board, hair, oil paint, plastic, steel binder clips, plastic clothespins, twigs, leaves, glass, plywood, brass piano hinge, nails, screws, cotton, collotype prints, acrylic varnish, chalk, graphite, paper, cardboard, tape, pen ink, electric light fixtures, gas lamp (Bec Auer type), foam rubber, cork, electric motor, cookie tin, and linoleum