A knife in the chrysallis, an echo from yesterday

That whole “waiting to bloom” thing is lovely and romantic, but there’s a bit of my imagination that wonders if there are caterpillars that can’t wait to become monarchs and cut their way from the cocoon. 

That same part sees babies in the womb muttering “fuck this womb bullshit” and tearing themselves from their mother’s bellies, but I digress. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a comic-based illustrator. Map the outlines, then fill in the blocked-off space with shadow and color. Never had a problem with it and never found a real reason to stray. 

No until I met Dorian Willis. 

I met him in high school art class and we shared a love of drawing. Not just drawing, but drawing things that would irritate the living Hell out of our art teacher. We kept our styles, she kept shouting and ranting about “real art” and what not, and we kept drawing. Then one day I came in and he was painting. “Judas!” I thought. He’d gone the way of those other un-deoderized fine art clowns in class with their penchant for birkenstock sandals, JNCO jeans, and overly-emotive and whiny music and was painting. Without being too melodramatic, I felt betrayed. Though our styles were different, I thought we were on the same page in being loyal to the pen and ink. It was the proverbial “whatever:” he painted and got the praise of the fine art fools, and I kept drawing and stood my ground. 

It wasn’t until that special time between “after class” and “before lunch” that I actually asked him what he was doing. You get tired of sneering from afar at the friend who “left you behind” (Jesus I’d like to slap myself for feeling that way, damn teen angst), but I figured I could ask and he’d tell. He did. He said:

“I just wanted to try something different. Maybe you should, too.” – D. Willis

In my head not 2 seconds after, the bells rang “bullshit” and I let it go. I continued down my illustrative path and perfected and honed it and loved it every step of the way. Different styles and techniques of the illustrative arena became familiar as I entrenched myself in the practice, never once deviating from the path. However, fourteen years later, I’d start to consider branching out (better late than never). I’m sure there are many who’ll read this and spout off about their own experience with stylistic growth/development and how they didn’t fight it and I should have just tried but guess what I 1.) don’t give a shit and 2.) am fairly confident there’s some aspect in their life where they’re still in a mental frame they were fourteen plus years ago. That’s not the point, here. Instead, to consciously choose to change once all reason suggests to do so is an intelligence unto itself, one that I know many people don’t do even when circumstances beg them to do so. 

Enough with the introspective ramblings. Here’s my first piece done without outlines of any kind. Painterly and imperfect I’m sure with the help of Phototshop for Ohio metallers WRETCH. I want to shout “Look ma! No training wheels!,” but that would be reductive of the comic-illustrative style I respect and still love so much. 

Instead, I’ll say “thanks” to Dorian, a friend gone from this world too soon who I wish could see what my stubborn hand has finally done. 

My friend, you were right, and hope you found the peace this world denied you. 




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