Thursday, October 29, 2015

Where am I? Oh, here I am...

One of my favorite Peter Lorre quotes from "Arsenic and Old Lace." I've got to try and watch it this year on Halloween - it used to be my tradition.

As to where I've been, 2015 has been tough, with lots of family emergencies and crises. As I mentioned at the start of this series, I was (as opposed to "When Hadrons Collide") going to take things at a slower pace and try to pay attention to the art and story. What I did not anticipate was the shear volume of impediments I have to climb over every week to keep on track, and so not only have a missed a bunch of bi-weekly updates, I havn't been able to get anything in color since August.

Hopefully that will begin to change soon. Meanwhile I hope you are enjoying the story so far (let me know, wouldya?) and keep coming back. Things start to get more interesting soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

oops, there it is

Well, this latest page is a mix of emotions for me. I gave a lot of thought to this story line; whether it would be appropriate, how it would work, etc. Mostly I wondered if I could have dead bodies and still maintain a light touch and some humor.

There are more details to come, but let's just say that I held a contest with the prize being the winner's likeness killed off in a Master Jeffrey story, and people of all ages and types responded with enthusiasm. "Someone has to die a horrible death - with any luck, it could be you!" They came in droves.

What this says about our society as a whole is debatable, and I'm fairly certain Jeff would not have been crazy about this idea. At some point, if the story is to continue, I have to make it something I want to create. So here we go, stretching the boundaries about as far as I could ever manage. If they break, well, better to know now. Feel free to share your thoughts.

Finally, I must point out that Master Jeffrey's reaction to the situation is pure Jeffrey. Jeff would often sit by the side of a debate, silently listening as people argued a point back and forth. When you least expected it, he would break in and make an observation that was as obvious as it might be impractical. It feels good to be thinking about him again.

More about the contest, including the winners, in the next post.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Well, here we go again

Hope you like the beginning of the new story. In cas eyou have not "liked" the Master jeffrey Facebook page (and why haven't you?) updates are now two days a week instead of three, and I focus more on art and story instead of deadlines thsi time around. That being said, I hope you'll find the latest adventure exciting - it's se in Jeffre's home tow and will feature a lot of landmarks, including some that were our favorites. Let me know what you think!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The end of the line

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, this ending was written long ago.

My last memories of Jeffrey were in the hospital. It's not a story I want to tell here, but he spent a long time going from one ward to another, and he was pretty miserable most of the time. In all the time I managed to spend with him during those many weeks, I kept thinking of how familiar I had become with the Pittsburgh Hospital system.

Between Jeffrey, his father and mother, I had been in and out of a hospital or nursing home almost every other time I went to the city for the past eight years. That doesn't count assisted living.

Jeffrey was always worried, concerned, or panicked, but he was always THERE. He would come, sit in the room, ask if he could do anything, and then just sit there some more. There was never any question that he had to be there...I don't know if it was obligation, love or duty, but Jeffrey would never even think that he would not be waiting for his father or mother to see if they needed anything, if only company.

I wanted to capture that sense of Jeff, because it was so sad to me that when he was in the hospital for his final days, he spent so much of his time alone. Everyone tried the best they could, and when he finally passed away his sister Carol was beside him, which I'm truly grateful for, but his last days on earth were devoid of the comfort and support he so often tried to give.

As I've said before, Jeffrey's life is the foundation for this story. If there's one thing I want my readers to take away with them, it's that we are not alone, and when we look for support, it is not always returned in the same kind as when we offered it. Maybe we're all a net, joined together, and if one of us lets someone slip through that net, then they are lost. Would we want that to happen to ourselves? Then, perhaps, we should try not to let it happen to others.

Thanks for reading. I'll be taking a few weeks to get my kickstarter going correctly (lord know it needs attention) and then I'll pick up the tale that starts in the Mountains east of Pittsburgh.

Monday, June 16, 2014

As we come to the finish

I am not embarrassed to admit that these last pages had me pretty choked up at one point. Not to give anything away, but if you're paying attention, you've noticed that I take advantage of one of the unique properties of sequential art in the last panel of today's page (1-118.) This is the kind of cliffhanger you could not get away with in the movies, and if you tried it in a book, you'd be accused of cheating.

I had a couple of decisions to make when I got to this point, but the ending to this story was written long ago. I hope it lives up to the rest of the tale, and Jeffrey's memory.

So enjoy the last three pages of "When Hadrons Collide" and let me know what you thought about it. The next story is already partially written, and I have an idea for the story after that, but call it vanity or practicality, I need to know that they're being read if I'm going to commit to this kind of pace. In any event, if you're reading this, then thank you for following along, and I hope you've enjoyed the ride.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A small joke to point out a bigger issue

When Jeffrey passed away he was very overweight and out of shape. His condition was part of the cause of his death, and he was often cautioned that if he did not do  something about it, he'd be in trouble.

As someone on the hefty side of the scale, I sympathized with his having to deal with all these admonishments. I find it hard to believe that there is a heavy person out there who, listening to someone tell them how fat they are, stops and says "...by golly, now that you mention it, I AM obese! Thanks for pointing that out - I'll get right on it."

Jeffrey knew he had a weight problem, and thought he was doing his best to get healthy. His reaction to criticisms about his health was to affirm that he was on top of the problem. I never chided him about his weight, but at the same time I was always honest, sometimes painfully so, whenever he asked me if I thought he weighed too much. It was my belief that his asking the question opened the door to accepting an honest answer when it might do some good, and I really believe that he took my frank response to heart, if only too little and too late.

The bigger problem, and here is one that aide agencies and other help organizations that encourage independent living for handicapped individuals must start to consider, is that even with the best advice and guidance, Jeffrey could not make good decisions about his diet and health. At what point should his personal freedom been taken away? If he lived in a group house where his meals were prepared and snacking somewhat moderated, he might be alive today.

My father was living on a diet of ice cream and cereal when we had to move him into assisted living. He did not enjoy the experience, and still has issues, but his overall health has improved from the healthy diet and lack of junk food (even if we do bring him more than his fair share of snacks.) The insurmountable gap is the leap from where he was to how he got there. I know Jeffrey was very proud of his ability to live by himself, and what it would have taken to get him into a similar setup. This also overlooks the incredible cost of providing this kind of care.

Everyone had an answer for what was best for Jeffrey, including himself. I guess the sum of the parts was not sufficient to meet the total of his needs.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Agony Airlines

As anyone growing up in Pittsburgh would know, the main airline servicing the city was Allegheny Airlines, which later became absorbed into US Airways. It was a nice enough little airline, but every time someone (ourselves included) would fly into Pittsburgh, there would always be a problem of some kind. A bag would be lost, or the flight delayed, or (and this was good for a few years) the terminal would be under construction.

Once, Jeffrey's Uncle Sydney arrived at their house for a family event after a particularly long trip. The plane red lighted and they had to be assigned another aircraft, and the reshuffling of passengers and luggage proved particularly arduous. When we asked him what was wrong with the plane, he said "I guess the rubber band broke! Allegheny Airlines, hah! They should call it Agony Airlines!"

This became Jeffrey's favorite joke about flying, and anytime he could work it into a trip's narrative he would. What I found interesting was that he credited his uncle every time. Think about how often you have heard and retold a joke, and ask yourself how many times you would explain where you heard it and from whom.

I'm sure Jeffrey was just being considerate; in his mind it was something like "...this is a funny story - whoever I'm telling it to should know where I got it from!" He was so anxious about doing the right thing and so afraid of taking credit for anything he thought he didn't deserve. I've hinted that Jeffrey's life was not so happy. There were a lot of reasons for this, but if I could do anything over again, it would be to let him know it was okay to get credit for the joke now and then.