Thursday, January 1, 2009


Five years ago, on the cusp of 2004, New Year's Eve day 2003, Cory and I were on a vacation that went to the continent of Antarctica.

I had been injured in a silly fall in Chile a few days before the adventure ship, Explorer II, departed. I was misdiagnosed in a very small clinic in an even smaller town and thought I had only severely strained some ligaments. When I returned from the trip I found out, two and a half weeks after my fall, that I had actually ruptured my quadriceps tendon from my knee. After surgery it was an almost 4 month rehab. But I didn't know how seriously I was hurt and so, I went to Antarctica with a bum leg and a cane and somehow had an incredibly good trip all things considered.

During my recovery and rehab, I wrote the following in a letter to Heidi MacDonald who had asked about Antarctica:

an incredible three color world (black, white and cyan) very primal and ultra pristine. it might have been the combination of drugs and injury but i do believe i love antarctica more than africa--not something i would have believed possible!

we would disembark the ship and ferry to shore in zodiac rafts. in many places, once ashore, we had an extraordinary amount of freedom to roam, within common sense limits. obviously my mobility was often quite limited but i did manage to get around.

once, while the others hiked, i found myself sitting alone on a rocky beach, sitting on a boulder while resting my chin on my hands atop the head of my cane. i was gazing and contemplating the splendor of the landscape--black, jagged, glacier covered mountains (that reminded me of the Violator's teeth) descending directly into a bright calm sea. the bay itself was festooned with literally hundreds of fantastically shaped icebergs, pack ice and what they call burgy-bits under a cloudless sky.

then a very large, lone penguin came out of the water, waddled towards me. stopped not more than three feet away, cocked its head back and forth all the while looking me square in the eye for a good 10 seconds, gave a loud squawk, turned and went back into the water to join a group of about two dozen penguins that happened to be swimming THAT moment will be with me for a VERY long time.

Moments after that extraordinary one-on-one experience with the penguin, I had a very strong thought echo in my brain. It wasn't a voice or anything, just a very strong message to myself from myself.

When I got back to the ship, I jotted this down:

as i sat on a rock i thought...remember when you are drawing there--the energy that was here.

As time passed, that simple note, distilled itself into a more simple message. I just knew that this was going to be the title of the story that had been called "Float Force" for so many years. I wrote it down on a big yellow Post-It note and put it on the wall above my drawing board in Phoenix a few years ago.

It's still above my board, to the left. And I'm deep, deep, DEEP in this story now. Having the time of my life. Lately I find myself amazed at how strongly Beanworld is channeling itself through my stylus and into comic book pages. I'm having FUN folks and I'm hoping that when you read this story towards the end of the year, that you will have fun too.

As some variation of the old saying goes "If it don't rain too hard and the crick don't rise" 2009 is gonna be the year of "Remember Here When You Are There!"


carol said...

What an awesome story--in the true sense of the word.

Mr. Stratford said...

My mantra for 2008 was no work in 2k9, and on December 31st I gave up my office cubicle (hopefully forever) to spend my time on more artistic ventures. I'm going keep that story in mind this year and hopefully it will keep me from ending up back in a cubicle wasteland.

Mr. Stratford said...
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