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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

The word “process” has changed meaning since my mother’s death.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the creative areas of my brain seem to prefer comics for processing mourning–I think because I have a distrust of words. As a fiction and essay writer I exploit their slipperiness, how selection of details and tilts of connotation control a universe of impressions. I would be naive to think images are different, let alone their yet-more-slippery intersection with words, but images are new to me creatively, so that newness gives me something to hold onto as climb through this namelessness.

Earlier this month I posted a short comic about my mother’s death, which I called “The Swimmer.” The juxtaposition was part happenstance since I’d already created the swimmer image for a different project. I’ve since extended that impulse into a 33-image sequence of the swimmer, who now also climbs, dives, floats, and walks. I had thought to end with the floating imagery–a page of the same figure repeating–but the corpse-like quality felt wrong, so now she emerges from the water, strolls onto land, and begins climbing again, repeating the whole process. I’m not sure if the connotation is circle of life or Sisyphus in the underworld, but I’m apparently content with both. I have complicated plans for these figures, so this is a quick window into my process, a circuitous grief-in-progress.

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