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Comics

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
"Worldwide Open Secret" (Text by Francis E. Dec)
"The Well of Loneliness" (Based on the novel by Radclyffe Hall)
"A War Prayer" (Based on the short story by Mark Twain)

 

 

Three Stories from Shiot Crock

The following comics were drawn in 2000 and 2001 for a small minicomics anthology called Shiot Crock, which was organized on the TCJ.com message board for a full decade under a revolving circle of editor/coordinators. They were drawn under what would have been tight deadlines even if I wasn't already under tight deadlines at my day job. Consequently, these comics were created with minimal preparation and almost no preparatory sketches — which is to say, they're kind of half-assed.

Still, they were fun to make, and I learned a great deal about comics in the process, lessons which have turned out to be quite helpful toward the project currently underway. So I thought I'd share them here.

These comics can be read online at the links below. You can also download these comics as a .cbz file for later viewing by right-clicking this link.

 

WORLDWIDE OPEN SECRET
Based upon the works of Francis E. Dec, Esq.

Not much is known about Francis E. Dec, above and beyond the inquiries of a small group of fans of his writings. He was a lawyer in Nassau County, New York until convicted of forgery, larceny and fraud in the mid-1950s. At some point thereafter, he seems to have gone stark raving mad. For the next several decades, Dec built an elaborate, feverish and paranoid cosmology, which he described in letters and flyers sent over the mail to seemingly anyone whose address he could get his hands on. The text in the below pages is composed exclusively of fragments from Dec's various rants.

Be warned: these comics contain racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments, and are completely and utterly insane.

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THE WELL OF LONELINESS
Adapted from the novel by Radclyffe Hall

Radclyffe Hall certainly wasn't the most likeable of authors. Her politics could most charitably be described as "aristocratic," and she gave Ezra Pound the radio equipment that he used to make his notorious anti-Semitic broadcasts prior to World War Two. Nonetheless, her novel The Well of Loneliness was the first gay-themed novel by an openly gay person to be published in recorded history, and Hall suffered persecution, censorship and serious damage to her career as a result — which by a queer sort of logic made her a hero of sorts, despite herself.

I wish I'd had more time to do the drawing on this one. To the extent that I did any preparatory sketches for "The Well of Loneliness," it was to work out the storytelling and design strategies that I employed to cram a densely-plotted Edwardian novel into twenty short pages. I almost certainly did more reading and research for this story than I did pre-drawing.

For the most part, I'm quite happy with how it turned out. I just wish the artwork was better.

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A WAR PRAYER
Adapted from the short story by Mark Twain

Do I really have to tell you who Mark Twain is? Samuel Longhorn Clemens, better known to the world as Mark Twain, is the finest writer even born in the United States of America, best known for such novels as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and an astonishing number of other novels, short stories, travelogues, autobiographies, essays and pamphlets. Some years back, I saw a hardbound collection of Twain's complete works and was genuinely surprised by how many volumes it contained. Did you that know Twain once wrote and published a book-length attack on Christian Science? I didn't, until I saw that collection.

The breadth and depth of subject matter considered by Twain would surprise most Americans. He wrote — and wrote well — on everything under the sun, but I've always been partial to his works on politics and the nature of religion. On the former topic, I highly recommend that you hunt down and read an essay entitled "The United States of Lyncherdom," which I first found in a collection called Mark Twain on the Damned Human Race, and uses perceptive insights into the human character to explain not just the shocking tradition of anti-black lynchings in post-Civil War America, but the nature of populism and the mob mentality generally. On the latter topic, may I recommend the title essay from the book Letters From the Earth? (Fair warning: Twain reserved some of his most potent venom for the Bible, and the often horrific ways that we mere mortals have interpreted it over the centuries.)

Below is my adaptation of Twain's cautionary tale, "A War Prayer." If I remember correctly, I included all but a dozen words from the story: The excised words were descriptive imagery that I chose to present instead in the artwork, and were therefore unnecessary. I feel comfortable in calling this a faithful rendering of Twain's story.

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