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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

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

I heard a third-hand theory that it takes six weeks for a body to flush out the initial grief hormones after a loss, but neither Google nor my counselor would confirm that. It’ s been ten weeks since my mother died. For the first month my mental focus was zero, and all I could find myself doing was working obsessively on comics images. February was sporadically better, and some version of my former brain seems to be sprouting with spring now. Not sure that has anything to do with cortisol or  takotsubo cardiomyopathy, but it fits my I’m-feeling-better-now narrative, so I’m going with it.

Last month I posted a set of thirty-some images of women-in-action, each literally culled from a photograph (hyper-stripped to mostly outlines, which also makes alterations easier). I was also planning on combining them on this 6×4 gridded pages:

But rather than using the squares as image-enclosing frames (AKA, “panels”), I filled each to create a semi-continuous background that the figures also interact with. Here’s the new, 7-page sequence:

So what does this have to do with my dead mother? Well, the plan was always to replace the black background squares with superimposed photographs of her. I’m thinking there will be 4 sequences of 6 pages (matching the panel grid, with the pages of the repeating floating figure removed to create an epilogue of sorts), with each sequence featuring a different photo or photo collage. Eventually I want to incorporate words, but for now here are two “silent” versions. They seem to be about working through a process, maybe a physical metaphor for the possibly apocryphal grief hormones that may or may not have been working through my body this winter. Like most things, this is a work-in-progress.

The second sequence uses a painting (by a relative, but I’m not sure who, some increasingly distant cousin I think) of my mother’s college graduation photo:

Is the static background a representation of death and the impossibility of change? The foregrounded figures are semi-transparent and so made of the same image content, just filtered for a color contrast. They’re of course static too, but they appear to be moving, climbing, jumping, swimming, floating, walking their way in and out of some invisible ocean and up and down some invisible mountain. Is that a metaphor too?

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