Saturday, December 31, 2011

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The idea that the brain was split into two halves was first introduced to me in the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It was a popular idea in the 1990s, spawning a veritable cottage industry of books elaborating how one could exploit the full capacity of one's brain. In retrospect it all seemed a bit naïve although a clearer view of the brain's duality still suggests that certain functions are compartmentalized in the two hemispheres.

So while the story partakes of some of the mythology of the era I think it actually holds up rather nicely as a meditation on duality.

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More scene setting with distant and seemingly indifferent scientists.

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The story Hemispheres is not only about intuition and rationality, but also other archetypal opposites. I like symbols that contain such oppositions. There are two on the screens of the computers, one, a circle with a dot in the middle which Carl Young claimed was a universal symbol for femininity. But in this case represents the element helium, or He, in obvious masculine implications. The other symbol, a symbol for power, is a spiral, a feminine symbol, with the arrow representing the masculine.

 Once again Cypher is stepping into water a symbol of subconsciousness and a foreshadowing of future illumination.

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Invariably a job that initially seems like a dream turns into a nightmare. The fog bank through which Cypher descends represents the penetration into the subconscious which is represented by the watery globe. The desk chair represents the state of inquisitiveness, like being in school.

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One of the most important questions people can ask themselves is what is the purpose of life? I have Cypher ask that question here, posing it to the subconscious mind. An answer is given by whom? The subconscious? The hand of God? I leave identity ambiguous as expressed by Cypher's perplexed expressions.

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 The downdraft forces Cypher further into the subconscious. Apparently I like repetition of motifs because we see another allusion to the hemispheres of the brain in the part of Cypher's hair. Underscoring the possibility that the previous hand launching the paper airplane might be some omnipotent, all-knowing being, we see here an allusion to Moses crossing the Red Sea.

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The one of the artists that was very influential in my youth was MC Escher. His style is often characterized as being highly cerebral if not mathematical. I use him here as a symbol of the rational. Knowing that few would recognize him I restated the symbolism with the chess board, a tessellation, an art form Escher took to new heights. Chess itself as a symbol of rationality as well as being an homage to the movie The Seventh Seal.

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It is often difficult to make a decent segue between two critical scenes. In this case I made the transition quickly and radically and added a bit of humor as well.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011


THE STORY MINOTAUR opens with a splash page comprised of two linocuts I made several years previous. I combined them digitally to create this image that combines both the sculpture of the Minotaur that appears in the story and the upcoming correspondence symbolized by a stamp.


I START THE STORY with a prologue. This suggests an upcoming epilogue. These two bookends help define the action that takes place in between. In the opening scene Cypher is working on a TV and the characters confess their undying love. This is a clue to the theme of the upcoming adventure.

The women in the story, a rather ordinary, mundane looking woman, asks Cypher to care for a delicate plant, a symbol of the delicacy of friendship.


ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE the woman displays her intelligence and insight diagnosing the problem with the television set. Here she continues by helping Cypher discover the location of the Minotaur statues that appear in the mysterious postcards he's been getting.


HERE THEY READ about the Minotaur sculpture. If you look carefully you can read the entry to the left of the Minotaur photograph. This scene, a vaguely Belgian or French location, is a subtle tribute to the Tintin stories I enjoyed as a youth.

The quote in the encyclopedia entry "out of the fires of desire and despair are forged all the irreconcilable opposites of paradox" is a quote that appeared in the Cypher story Fear of Dreaming where the characters wandered through a sculpture garden.


CYPHER REFUSES to give much heed to the woman upstairs. He is more concerned with his mysterious postcards from a distant admirer. The stamp on the scene is from the same linocut from which I extracted the Minotaur head. It is intended to suggest the state of helplessness.

I've used a very simple code in this postcard. The encrypted message can be decoded by simply reading the words written in capital letters. It's a rudimentary convention but some have said they missed this important clue to the story.


THE CODE CONTINUES as Cypher begins to fantasize about who could possibly sent these intriguing postcards.


THIS MESSAGE uses the convention of R for right, L for left, and S for straight. The previous postcard mentions the starting point which effectively makes this postcard a map to the captive writer.


CYPHER FINALLY GETS IT and begins his journey. Further emphasizing the theme of the relationship between men and women we see a variation of Atlas shouldering the world. If men carry the world on their shoulders, women carry the world in their bellies. This sculpture is a reference to the sculpture at Rockefeller Center in New York City.


I GAVE CYPHER a trenchcoat as an homage to Herge's Belgian reporter Tintin.


CYPHER FOLLOWS the directions and arrives at the manhole mentioned in the postcard.


CYPHER COMES FACE-TO-FACE with the symbolic representation of dysfunctional masculinity, the Minotaur. Now he goes underground which represents the upcoming exploration of his subconscious mind. He has the presence of mind to mark his path with an X. The fact that he does so beneath a skull (creating a death's head symbol) suggests that things probably aren't going to go as well as he hopes.


I AM TAPPING INTO DEEP, PRIMEVAL IMAGERY. The water and the subterranean nature of the scene indicate we are exploring the subconscious mind. It is also a representation of a vague memory that surfaced from Wind in the Willows.


THE SHADY FATHER FIGURE  and the criminal nature of his comportment indicates that this scene is a manifestation the dark side, or shadow, of the subconscious.
This is a straight forward pantomimes seen. No hidden messages here except for the heroics Cypher engages in on behalf of person he does not know.

I typically love pantomimes seems. They advance the story cinematically and unambiguously.


THE IMAGE IN THE CALENDAR was a linocut that I digitally scanned and placed into the scratchboard illustration. The postcard images were also scanned from a woodcut.

 No subliminal images here. But look! Woman was using a typewriter!


CYPHER LEARNS THE BAD NEWS that the woman never knew him and his appearance is purely coincidental. He also learns that his preparation of marking his trail is nothing more than a red herring for those who will be pursuing them shortly.

 It is on this page that Cypher begins to realize that what he is about to experience will not be what it appears.



CYPHER LEARNS THE NAUSEATING truths as personified by the retching gargoyle. The woman takes control and Cypher can only follow.

The woman tells her odd history, vaguely reminiscent of Moses and the Penguin.


THE WOMAN CONTINUES HER TALE as the gang arrives in by an obsessive compulsive megalomaniac.


CYPHER BEGINS TO SUSPECT that things are not going to go well. The bosses dominance and infantilization of the woman is a facet of the Minotaur archetype (or dysfunctional masculinity).

Cypher and the woman tie themselves together. This is emblematic of the often dysfunctional relationship between men and women when they subconsciously embrace a son/mother relationship.

The boss infantilized the woman, a woman infantilizes Cypher, and Cypher has a decidedly queasy feeling about all this.


Throughout the graphic novel the spiral is the symbol of transformation as well as return to the beginning. Water is also a symbol of the subconscious mind, so Cypher goes even deeper into the subconscious.


ON THIS PAGE CYPHER LOSES complete control and is yanked by the umbilical-like rope into the whirlpool. He is about to undergo his final transformation.


THEY ENTER A WOMB-LIKE TANK. As part of his transformation Cypher loses consciousness and sufferers a childlike forgetfulness. Will he be reborn as a wiser and humbler man?


CYPHER IS REBORN and exhausted by his transformation which is physical as well as psychological. He finds himself at the base of a huge statue reminiscent of the Minotaur sculpture where he started his adventure.


THE MERMAID IS SYMBOLIC of dysfunctional femininity. The kind of femininity Cypher has endured is the mirror image of dysfunctional masculinity, symbolized by the Minotaur, that he embraced in pursuit of a mythical woman.

Cypher is still under the spell of the woman on whom he has projected his imaginary expectations. For more detailed analysis of Minotaur and Mermaid archetypes see book below:


This scene is an homage to the movie Casablanca. The roar of the engines is symbolic of the outrageous connection Cypher is experiencing regarding his relationship to the unknown but ironically beloved woman. He is still living in a world where his relationship is real. But the woman is completely oblivious to his desire.


CYPHER HAS THE SINKING FEELING that all is not right but he persists with his infatuation and expresses his love  for his anima, a woman who is nothing more than a symbol that exists in Cypher's mind.

 His relationship with the woman is entirely fictional. The impossibility of a man and a woman connecting under these circumstances is symbolized by the roaring engine that completely obliterates any possibility of real connection and communication.

The woman is left completely perplexed by Cypher's odd behavior. In the next scene we see a flight attendant handing out magazines aboard a plane. Everyone is reading a magazine about love or romance. Except Cypher. He is reading a magazine called Fish tales a symbolic reference to the mermaid and it's dysfunctional significance. It is also a reference to the fiction fishermen often tell about the one that got away.


IN THE EPILOGUE we see a dejected Cypher returning home. He finds a batch of Minotaur postcards in his mailbox. He throws them away in disgust.

He sees his television and suddenly recalls the upstairs woman mentioning how to fix the TV. He makes the adjustment just as the woman from upstairs appears. She is disappointed to see that the trust she had in Cypher was misplaced.

The dead flower is symbolic of relationships left floundering when men pursue the illusion projected onto anonymous and usually unknowable women who arelittle more than personifications of dysfunctional femininity.


ON THE FINAL PAGE we witness Cypher's  embarrassment at letting the flower die. His chagrin is heightened as he admits that the neighbor woman was right about the TV. But the woman, in a spirit of forgiveness, joins Cypher in watching TV.

The closing scene shows Cypher in the presence of the dead flower, symbolizing the neglected relationship, seeming to prefer the illusion of a flower he watches onTV.

Is he the kind of man who prefers the illusion of a perfect woman to a relationship with a real human being?

Monday, November 14, 2011

SubT Trailer

HERE IS THE TRAILER to my new webcomic SubTerranean Chronicles. I hope you enjoy it and check out the unfolding saga. Let me know what you think.