I drew two comics for the new year.
Which did you click on first?
This new Dustinland comic is not so much about my new book (which you can now buy here at Amazon!) but rather inspired by it. It’s about the thought process behind it, and the hopes, fears, dreams, and paranoia brought on from discussing it with people in the real world. So really it’s more about success, as an artist and as a human.
It’s a topic I’ve touched on before and probably will again, but I felt that this 20-year milestone was the right time to dive into it.
Also, I was inspired by my trip last night to the Society of Illustrators for a goodbye party for MAD Magazine, as they are moving from their classic NYC home out to the west coast to join the rest of their DC Comics companions/overlords. As an occasional contributor, it was an honor to be among great like Al Jaffee, Tom Bunk, Hermann Mejia and basically a huge room full of some of the world’s best cartoonists. I’d like to thank all the awesome MAD editors and staffers (especially Jonathan Bresman and Ryan Flanders), who were so kind to me over the years, and who brought me into this amazing family of talented artists and creators. It’s a bummer to see the gang split up and such a NY institution leave town, but hey, the times they are a changin.
Okay, so kids aren’t always as happy as I make them out to be in this week’s new Dustinland comic. BUT, I do think that in general, they are way happier than adults. They live in a naive world of joy where nothing bad has ever happened, aside from maybe someone they know got hurt or something like that. But certainly for kids, there is no war, terrorism, mass shootings, bombings, opioids, depression… etc… (first world kids, that is). And I think that’s one of the best parts of being a parent. Being around these perfect little balls of happiness is just so refreshing and invigorating. Of course I’m sad I will one day have to pass along this awful orb of misery we call human civilization, and I’ll have to teach him about how shitty people can be, but for now, it’s alllllll good.
I’ll admit it, a lot of my comics are depressing. I am definitely a pessimist. Or perhaps a realist at best. But as I allude to in this week’s new Dustinland comic, that’s what’s nice about being a parent. Kids are so naive and wonderful, they do seem to really love life. And that’s something to learn from. True, you can never go back to the garden again, but you can at least try to learn something from the way they experience life. In the face of such endless misery — like the awful events in the news today, this week, this month, this past year — what else can you do but try to do your best, to make the world better, and to find some joy in the world, wherever you can.
I don’t know what to say about this week’s Dustinland comic, but I do like how weird it gets at the end. Well, not weird, but let’s say I think it doubles down nicely on the concept of the strip.
As I say in this week’s Dustinland comic, my son really did ask me about “Kevin,” confusing it with heaven. I didn’t explain things to him in real life like I did in this comic though. Not yet. I’d rather have him naive and happy for now. Because once you know, you can never unknown, so why not let the innocence go on a little longer.
Not that it’s bad to know about these things. But hey, if it’s confusing/depressing to me, I don’t know how helpful it will be to him, or any little kid for that matter. But I do know that when you try to explain things to kids, sometimes it makes you realize how silly or weird a lot of these ideas and rituals actually are.
I could go on and on about the subject of this week’s Dustinland comic. After all, happiness, that’s a big issue. In some ways it’s THE issue. But I just spent an hour and a half on the subway due to signal problems, and then another 30 minutes on hold for customer support after I couldn’t sign into my server to up date the site. So now I’m grumpy! Oh the irony!
I do think there’s something to the eastern approach though. Simple pleasures. Low expectations. That’s the way to go. Then you are easily appeased, rarely disappointed and occasionally pleasantly surprised. Easier said than done of course. And that whole meditation thing, man that’s hard! And time consuming. It probably works but it’s hard to get around to it. And even 15 minutes of sitting in silence feels like 60 minutes, so it’s not something I look forward to. Probably just something to suck up and get over. I think it’s proven meditation is good for your health. Eh, I’ll put it on the new years resolution list, just like I did last year.
If I had the energy, I’d go into the whole first world problems, it’s all relative thing here, but I won’t because I don’t feel like it. Actually, ending this post now makes me happy, so there you go.