IN THIS ISSUE: ON COMICS & GRAPHIC ART
EASTERN IOWA COMMUNITY COLLEGES An annual literary & visual arts magazine
What if we could “wash our eyes” and “find another vision” as Iranian poet, Sohrab Sepehri, wishes. What if we see each other as we are and “be like the sun for grace and mercy, be like the night to cover other’s faults” (Rumi). Instead of guarding ourselves against each other, “shut umbrellas and see friends in the rain” (Sohrab). Let rain wash away our fear of the unfamiliar, the fear that blurs our sights. “Leave the familiar for a while. Let our senses and feelings stretch out” (Hafiz, Iranian poet). It’s very difficult to “celebrate being a human” (Rumi). But let’s try... -Zahra Basti
“Mirror Image Uke”: Photograph by Roberta Osmers
Inkwell Volume 7 Spring 2021 Submit your ORIGINAL creative writing or visual artwork to be considered for publication in the Spring 2022 edition to email@example.com by February 1, 2022.
We publish ONLY ORIGINAL pieces by students, alumni, faculty, or staff of Scott Community College. For questions, please contact the editor, Dr. Amy Foley, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
table of contents work titles Tiefling Adoptables
A. Endorf, Student
Zahra Basti, Staff
Monifah Ponton, Student
The Black Body
Monifah Ponton, Student
Roberta Osmers, Faculty
Beyond the Ceiling The Whispy
Patrick Markovich, Student A. Endorf, Student
Jeanne Matter, Faculty
Jordan Ryan, Student
Bird of Wonder
Mikayla Bagdonas, Student
A. Endorf, Student
Before He Was a Hero
Derrick Roland, Student
John R. Turner, Faculty
John R. Turner, Faculty
A Dream Among Obstacles
Thi Hoa Phung, Student
Andrea Daley, Student
Zahra Basti, Staff
Izzi Fenner, Student
Izzi Fenner, Student
Roberta Osmers, Faculty
Sacred Stones Icons
A. Endorf, Student
Inspired by Da Vinci’s “Lily”
Matt Van Pelt, Student
Roberta Osmers, Faculty
A. Endorf, Student
CHECK OUT TWO OF OUR STUDENT ARTISTS AT THE FIGGE MUSEUM ON PAGES 30-35 & CHECK OUT OUR SPECIAL FEATURE INFO ON THE NEXT PAGE!
A. ENDORF ARTWORK & COMIC:
CHRIS HUTTON SCRIPT & COMIC:
“I Am” Black Marker & Colored Pencil Monifah Ponton
The Black Body -by Monifah Ponton I am nothing more than a soul assigned to a Brutalized Dehumanized Sexualized Confused Shattered Used Exploited Outcasted Weaponized Sickened Tired Stressed Afraid Angry Passionate Determined Focused Consistent Independent Resilient Brilliant Intelligent Courageous Honest Forgiving Original Humbled Melanated black body. This is the black body This is me.
“Hey You” Photograph Roberta Osmers
The Watchers -by Patrick Markovich-
“It’s not like what he said you know? It’s the principle of the thing, man,” I told my friend Will, from across the table at Joe’s Diner. There was something about Joe’s that made me feel like I was in a sitcom or something. I would even catch myself imagining a laugh track after each stupid joke or snarky comment we made. Even when what I said wasn’t particularly funny, I would imagine a studio audience watching from outside the darkened diner window. In my mind, there were neat rows of seats across the street in the woods. The harsh fluorescent light seeping out from the diner’s large boxy windows barely touched the tips of the dark branches that obscured those seats. I wondered if they could see the neat rows of blinking LEDs from the applause lightbox just below the fluorescent sign for Joe’s Diner. Something about that mental image lingered in my mind and I shuddered, pulling my leather jacket closer to my body. “Thomas, what are you even talking about? You’ve been so pissed off, but you still haven’t really even explained what happened.” The sound of my name brought me back to reality. “Yeah, I’ll be honest, I kinda lost my train of thought. Umm . . . shit ok, I remember now it was about . . . ” I sputtered trying to remember what I wanted to say. I looked incredulously at Will to see if he remembered what I had been talking about. “I don’t know man, you were saying some shit about a rewards card earlier,” Will said, and my face distorted into disdain. The memories of the shift replaced any thoughts I had of being a character in a TV series. There was no show worth watching where the main character stands at a fast food counter taking orders all day. Sure there were workplace comedies, but nothing even remotely interesting enough happened during my daily shifts to warrant documenting it in a TV show. The anger that had been stewing from earlier anchored my mind firmly back in reality. I was once again at the center of my own boring universe. “Basically, I forgot to ask if this old dude had a rewards card and I didn’t put his card through the system. Once that transaction goes through it’s impossible for us to swipe the card for that visit. So now this dude has to come in one more time to get his free fucking burger. The old fat fuck can wait one more time, right? Well, apparently not. This dude starts screaming at me saying I should lose my job and that he wants his free burger.” I stared at my friend, looking for a bit of solidarity. “Ok, I get it… that’s obviously fucked up, but why were you talking about a principle earlier? I’m not gonna say I don’t know what it means, but if I didn’t, then how would you explain it?” Will asked, only half joking. I would normally make fun of my friend at this point, but instead I just gazed out the window looking towards the studio audience beyond the parking lot and street. I waited for their laughter to cease and quickly looked back to my friend. “You know the principle, like how do I explain it? Like it’s not the act itself. It’s the reason behind it. I know that this guy is kinda bummed he couldn’t get his burger, right? But at the same time . . . as a human, you don’t need to scream at me and embarrass me in front of the entire store. I understand why he’s pissed, I really do, but what would you do in that situation?” I asked. “Well, I would just let it go. You know, just tell you or the cashier that I would get the free burger next time. But old guys are just like that, you know, they really don’t give a shit what you think. Doesn’t make much sense when you think about it though because, like, they’re old, right? So that means they really shouldn’t be worried about a fucking burger; they should be worried about dropping dead. It sounds fucked up, but that’s just how it goes.” Will surprised me with a bit of wisdom. That’s just how Will was. He had knowledge in strange places and he always found a unique way of expressing exactly how he felt in his own words. The way he phrased things was rarely eloquent, but often he was able to provide insights I hadn’t considered. “Maybe that’s the problem though. Like he doesn’t have shit to worry about except for his free 9
cheeseburger,” I replied. “That’s actually kind of sad.” Will’s words hung in the air for a moment meeting the silence between two songs on the radio. Will once again pulled the truth from some murky place I couldn’t see. It was kind of sad, I thought as the opening lines of an old song came on the diner’s shitty speaker system. (Wait) Oh yes, wait a minute, Mr. Postman (Wait) Wai-hey-hey-hey, Mr. Postman The music washed over my body. The diner seemed to exist in a place beyond the material realm, as if it were frozen in time and space. The whole vibe of Joe’s was too real and too fake all at once, like the diner itself was suspended in otherness. I glanced out the window to position myself within reality, but it didn’t comfort me. My gaze was met with more unreality as I remembered those red vinyl seats filled with . . . something. I could feel their eyes watching me intently. This time I imagined them sneering or scoffing as the lighthearted tone of our conversation had shifted. If this were a TV show, then we had just gone off script. At some point that I couldn’t place something shifted; the air was heavier now and the lack of people in the diner was suddenly unnerving rather than comforting. I think it was around that time when I began to believe that those watchers beyond the trees weren’t just in my head. I tapped the laminate of the table nervously and looked back to my friend as the voices of the The Marvelettes sang on. So many days, you've passed me by (Wait Mr. Postman) You saw the tears standing in my eye (Wait Mr. Postman) You wouldn't stop to make me feel better (Wait Mr. Postman) By leaving me a card or a letter “Does this place ever make you nervous?” I asked. “Fuck no.” Will’s response came quick, almost immediately. “I don’t know, it’s just weird sometimes. There’s something about this place that feels off. I mean even after coming here so often there’s just something about it that I can’t place.” I assumed that Will probably hadn’t thought about it too hard. “This place just has a different vibe and I’m
pretty sure you know what I mean by that. It’s like we’re in a movie or some shit,” said Will, straightening his posture, resting his elbows on the booth as he spoke. “It’s never been a bad one though, at least not for me. I feel like we’re the stars, so that means nothing bad can happen to us in here. Plus, the waitresses know us, the cooks know us, we’ve even met Joe himself a couple of times. You couldn’t write this shit if you tried man. It’s all eyes on us in here.” A sharp pang of anxiety flipped in my lower abdomen. “I have a few issues with that take. First of all, you have not watched enough movies. If we’re really the stars I’d argue it’s more likely something bad is gonna happen to us. Also Will, sometimes I just don’t want to feel seen. Sometimes it feels like I’m just acting how everyone around me expects me to. Don’t you ever wish you could melt into the crowd and just disappear?” “That’s not really an option.” I thought Will’s response was shallow and dull, but that didn’t make it any less true. “Yeah, I guess . . . this place just gives me a bad vibe sometimes. Not like we’re in a movie, but more just like we’re being watched,” I found myself saying flatly. Will was starting to look a little concerned now. His eyebrows creased which made me think he was about to ask another stupid question. Instead, he shrugged and nervously looked around the restaurant. “It is kinda of creepy now that you put it like that. We’re like the only ones in here and our waitress has been gone for like twenty minutes at least. You sure we’re not the last ones on earth?” Will asked, trying to make a light of the situation, though it only caused my paranoia to grow. “Well, I’d say it’s probably us and whatever is watching us from the woods . . . ” I thought it was just a joke, but I ended up scaring myself even more as the words passed my lips. The moment I said it I could almost feel the mocking laughs of the watchers in the trees. I could tell in that instant that the watchers were not people, but something else, something vastly different. It was as if the watchers were once human, but they were now nested within something else. They were layered deep within themselves, content with the act of observing without participating. It was as if all that they were was the act in being
itself. I should’ve feared this thing that I had apparently willed into existence, but I didn’t. In fact, I suddenly was not so interested in the French toast that would be arriving soon. I wasn’t interested in my friend or my shitty job or school or the future or my life at all. I was reflecting on what to do with that revelation as the song’s last verse played softly through the speakers. You better wait, wait a minute (Wait, wait a minute, Mr. Postman) Wait a minute, wait a minute (Wait, wait a minute, Mr. Postman) Please Mr. Postman (Wait, wait a minute, Mr. Postman) Deliver the letter, the sooner the better Wait a minute, wait a minute (Wait, wait a minute, Mr. Postman) Wait a minute please, Mr. Postman, wait (Wait, wait a minute, Mr. Postman) Wait a minute, wait a minute (Wait, wait a minute, Mr. Postman) I was about to stand when the waitress arrived at the table carrying a steaming plate of French toast in one hand and a burger with fries in the other. The smell of food made me gag. The very feeling of my feet planted on the diner floor was suddenly and inexpiably repulsive to me. I didn’t belong in this place anymore, that I knew. I could feel every way my skin attached to the ligaments and muscles of my body. I wanted to tear it off and melt into the earth like the watchers. I wanted to sink into some breathing, pulsing mass and sleep for eternity. I didn’t want any French toast, that was for sure. I began to scratch my arm vigorously and compulsively as if there was a parasite underneath my skin. It was more like my skin itself was the parasite. I raked my nails over the surface of my skin until stark red lines of blood perforated from beneath the veil of flesh. “Dude what the fuck are you doing?” Will asked, reaching out to grab my arm. I hadn’t noticed at the time, but the waitress had already walked back to the kitchen before I started scratching. “I-I don’t know, it’s . . . you feel it too, I know you can. You’re just too stupid to understand! This is my chance Will, and you’re not going to ruin it. I have to go now! Let me go!” My eyes were glazed over as I spoke, while Will’s face froze in a twisted
scowl. I could tell Will noticed something too, but he didn’t want to approach the watchers like I did. Every part of Will looked tense, like he was ready to run home and never look back. Fortunately, Will was my friend and he wouldn’t leave me in this state. “Your chance for what? What the fuck are you doing to yourself?” Will asked, frantically grabbing at my wrist. I knew Will was stronger than me, but there was a force of nature empowering me. I broke free from Will’s grip and stood up, heading towards the front door. “I’m finally becoming someone,” I said as I opened the door, breaking into a sprint towards the forest. I could hear Will behind me shouting something I couldn’t make out as I made my way across the street, towards the thicket that sat lonely on the other side of the quiet street where I believed the watchers sat. Once I broke the threshold of the trees, I took my keys from my pocket in a moment of inspiration. I raised my house key, gripping it tightly, and drove it down into the bleeding scratch mark. This caused more blood to spill out from the wound which was now opened wider, bathing my arm in red. The pain only lasted a moment before my arm started to feel like nothing more than a fuzzy numb void. I could feel myself approaching the watchers in whatever form they took. I knew their seats would be just beyond the entrance to the woods. For some reason that was all I could picture perfectly: those red cracked vinyl seats like you’d see in an old movie theater. I could still hear Will’s voice calling, but he may as well have been on another planet. I took a few more steps before I saw them. They were one. They existed together in a cacophony of organs, blood, and gore. Limbs stripped of their skin occasionally reached out beckoning me to come closer. Daring me to join. At that point I didn’t need to be dared. I took hold of a large flap of my flesh feeling my fingertips grip the parasite that was my skin. The autumn air was chilly, but my fingers were comforted by the thick warm blood inside my arm. I was about to tear my own flesh when a fist connected with my jaw, knocking me off my feet. Will stood over me with his back to the watchers. I couldn’t tell if my blurring vision was from the blow to the head or the blood loss. I
strained to look past Will at the hazy red mass behind him, but he towered over me. “Get out of my way!” I screamed, trying to get back to my feet. “I’m not letting you go near that thing, whatever the fuck it is! Holy shit . . . what is going ON?” Will yelled back, as he grabbed me by me good arm and started dragging me away from the watchers. I wanted to fight back, but I couldn’t muster the strength in my other arm. “It’s not fair! It’s not fair! Just let me be. I’m so tired! Please just let me be!” I kept repeating this over and over again as tears streamed down my face and blood still leaked from my arm. My cheek stung from where Will had hit me and my back scraped across the hard ground, but I still couldn’t feel my arm. Will suddenly grabbed me by my shoulders and propped me up against a tree. “I’m not going to let you lose yourself like this! I don’t know what you’re talking about, but whatever it is, that monster isn’t going to help. For how smart you act you can be so fucking stupid, you know that right? You can’t even get mad at me you’ve lost so much fucking blood.” Will chuckled at that and started laughing nervously as he took his jacket off and tied the sleeves tightly around the wound in my forearm. He continued laughing as tears started to stream down his face. “I don’t know if I did that right, but I don’t wanna lose my friend. I can’t lose you, ok?” Will continued talking and I nodded. For once the idiot was actually starting to make sense. I couldn’t see the watchers then, but I’m sure they had really been there. Will had seen them too, but I couldn’t feel their presence anymore. Everything was beginning to feel real once again after so much unreality and uncertainty. Will kept rambling on, but I stopped listening as he dialed 911. Before, in the diner, it had felt like my skin was a burden, but laying there as the pain began to set in I hoped that they could stitch my wound back together. I didn’t dare look at my arm and I couldn’t look at my friend either, so I kept my gaze fixed up and to the left, trying to see the stars beyond the trees. Time passed and soon I was carried off on a stretcher with my vision blurring further until finally it faded completely. The last thing I saw before I was loaded onto the ambulance was an unlit black electronic sign just above the window where I had sat with Will.
*** Two weeks later I stood at the counter at work. The events of two weeks ago were fresh in my mind, but I couldn’t have asked for a different outcome. Sure, I was back living a mundane and unremarkable life, but I was at peace knowing there were people around me who would do anything to make sure I continued living it. I rubbed the bandage on my left arm feeling the stitches from underneath the wrappings. The wound itched, but I actively tried to leave it alone so it could heal faster. Apparently, Will had told the 911 operator that I was attacked by a coyote when we went to explore the woods. Of course, there were questions about the nature of the wound, but I feigned amnesia to the doctors. As I rubbed the bandages on my arm an older man approached the counter. I instantly recognized the man from the rewards card incident. It seemed so trivial after everything that had happened. I made a point to ask him this time. “Hi, can I take your order, and do you have a rewards card with us?” I asked the man. “Yes, I do, and thank you for asking me. I . . . I don’t know if you remember, but I really wanted to apologize for the last time I was here. Sometimes it’s easy to say some things you don’t mean and I . . . I’m sorry, you might not even remember. I don’t know what I’m saying, but here you go.” The old man spoke softly and respectably, a far cry from the outright yells he directed at me before. He handed me his rewards card. “Thank you, sir, I think I understand what you mean. It’s easy to get caught up in ourselves sometimes and do things that we didn’t really mean to do. I’m sure there’s a better way to put it but I can’t think of it right now.” I swiped the card on my register. “That’s exactly it young man, thank you,” he replied. “Hey, looks like you’ve got a free burger today, did you want to use that this time around?” I asked. “Yes, I would, thank you,” the old man said, with a beaming smile on his face. I smiled back as the man paid for the rest of his meal and I thought of my friend Will.
“Beyond the Ceiling” Digital Art A. Endorf
The Whispy -by Jeanne Matter-
My brother, David, was executed by electric chair in the state of Florida in 1995. I haven’t shared that with anyone. Sometimes I say I had a brother who died in a hunting accident but mostly I don’t mention him. Back in 1986, he was charged with the brutal murders of two women and a child in Pensacola, Florida. We thought he was in Alaska. He had gone to Alaska in the spring of ’84 with a vague plan of living off the land. He liked to hunt and fish and when we were teenagers, he ran a trap-line in the nearby creek. He was good at it, too; he made a lot of money selling pelts: muskrat, possum, raccoon, fox, and the occasional skunk caught in his traps. He wanted to hunt, fish, and trap in Alaska. He was hoping to maybe apprentice in a taxidermy shop. He figured he could always work as a bartender or a cook, wash dishes, even, if he needed to. Bum around and survive in a different place for a while. Mom got a couple postcards over the next year, phone calls on her birthday and Christmas. Then, in June, ’86, the phone call from Pensacola; he was in custody. Mom sold her little house and everything else she could. We drove to Florida for the trial, which lasted three days. The jury only needed an hour to convict him on three counts of heinous, cold-blooded murder. He was sentenced to death and that was that. Throughout most of the trial, he sat with a stunned look on his face. On a few occasions, he shook his head, fiercely, denying what was going on in front of him. He cried. He had an outburst at one point. Everyone looked at him with narrowed eyes. “It wasn’t my fault!” he kept exclaiming to us, to Mom, to the arresting officers, to the detectives, to the judge, the jury, the courtroom. He spent nine years on death row, never admitting to the murders. He worked on appeals, loopholes, and reasons to stay his execution but in the end there was no hope. There was no surmounting the mountain of evidence against him. We couldn’t believe he had done it. I couldn’t picture it. The things that were done to those women and that little girl were unthinkable. Only a monster – an evil, soulless, demon monster – could do those things. Yet David was at the scene. He was covered in the blood of all three of the victims. His fingerprints were all over the house and the knives, hammer, pliers and axe. His teeth marks on all of the victims. His stomach contents matched their DNA. His defense was by reason of insanity. He didn’t think he was crazy, but everyone else did. He claimed some girl whispered in his ear to do it but he didn’t know she whispered it to him until he actually did the crimes. It was just so crazy. Three years before he was executed, he asked me to come visit him. He had always refused visitors, even our mom, who passed away two years after his conviction. I was eager to visit him and came as soon as I could. The prison was worse than I expected. David was terribly thin and he had a long, Viking beard and a shaved head. I couldn’t help crying, it was so hopeless. I was afraid that I would cry during the entire visit. This is the story that he told me: He was at a bonfire one night and met a strange girl. She was slender and petite, very pale, and had fine, wispy, white hair. Her voice was soft and young. David thought she was a child at first but after they started talking, he found that she was much older than she appeared, although he could not tell her age. She was cynical and snarky and the juxtaposition of the mean things she said compared to her sweet, innocent looks intrigued him. He started going to more bonfires and parties, hoping to run into her and he often did. Sometimes she would ignore him and sometimes she would spend the entire party close to him, practically sitting on his lap, talking and flirting. He loved the way she laughed and he would say the most outrageous things just
to hear it. Finally, one night, she went home with him. They had drinks and were fooling around when she said to him, “I’m a Whispy.” “You are wispy,” he smiled down at her. “Your hair is wispy and a strong wind could carry you away.” “No,” she smiled slyly back at him. “I’m a Whispy. I whisper things.”
He told me. As soon as he made the cut, he remembered what the Whispy had whispered in his ear. He remembered it clearly, as if he had gone back in time at that instant and she was whispering it in his ear right then and there. But it wasn’t words that she said, exactly. It was more an unrefusable command for him to chop his thumb off. No details, just the compulsive idea. She wasn’t telling his future, she was making his future.
“Ok.” He figured she would softly blow in his ear or say something dirty to him. Instead, as she put her mouth to his ear, he felt a sharp pain deep in his head. He wrenched away.
He got his hand sewed up and he told everyone that it was an accident. He was pretty freaked out about it, of course. He couldn’t figure out why he had done it. While he was doing it, it was the most natural “What did you do?!” He yelled at her. David is not a thing, as if first you cut a cord of wood and then you yeller. She just smiled at him and he pushed her cut off your thumb; time to check two things off roughly away from him. He told her to go. He didn’t your to-do list. He said he didn’t feel as if he were want her to spend the night and he didn’t really doing anything wrong or unusual or that would want to see her for a while, either. She left, but she cause him terrible pain. It was just the next thing to seemed gleeful to him. Not angry or sorry. Just do. happy. Self-satisfied. So he started looking around for the Whispy. He He was terribly sick for the next week. He thought he had the flu: body aches, chills, fever. She didn’t didn’t know much about her. She had said her name was Ulla but nobody knew anyone with that name. come around and he was fine with it. He stopped Many people had seen or spent time with the small, going to the bonfires and the parties. He kept childlike woman with the fine, blonde halo of hair, thinking about what had happened, wondering but nobody knew where she came from or where what she had done. The memory of the sharp, he might find her. Some people mentioned Tanga, a penetrating pain would bring on a headache. He borrowed a mirror from the old woman he rented big old mountain of a man who went around with from and used it to look at the twice-reflected her; he had been in and out of prison his whole life. image of both ears, for comparison. Nothing looked David had never seen him but he heard he was a different, although he couldn’t get a very good look. mean brute who smiled when she called him her He wished he could have a doctor look at it with pet bear. Tanga would pick her up and hold her on one of those ear lights but he didn’t have money for one shoulder and shuffle-dance around the bonfire. a doctor’s visit and the nearest doctor was 268 Someone told David that Tanga slept on a mattress miles away. He didn’t have a car. in the back room of the repair shop. Someone else Eventually he stopped thinking about it so much. said he was staying at an old hunting cabin farther The days continued to bleed into the next and the north. Everyone told David to stay away. whole incident became part of his background. He David went to the repair shop but no one there had started going to bonfires and parties again and seen Tanga for the last year. He tried to find the while part of him looked for her, he wasn’t exact location of the northern hunting cabin but no disappointed to not find her. one knew. David felt more and more desperate to Then one day he was out chopping wood and he find her. deliberately set his hand, palm down, on the cutting block. He took careful aim and with all his might, he I interrupted his story to ask him why he had to find her. Why didn’t he just get as far away from her swung the axe and cut off his own thumb. At this point in his story, he raised his left hand and as he could? He dropped his head and shook it. showed me that he no longer had a thumb. It looked “I just don’t know.” He spoke softly. like he had lopped it off with an axe. He waited for Over the next few weeks, he started drinking more. me to speak. He was bartending and most nights by the time the I didn’t even know what to say. But then, carefully, bar closed, he would be completely drunk. Many “Why did you do that?” times, he didn’t remember the half mile frozen walk
to his apartment. Then one night, as he was walking home, drunk, he saw her standing on the deserted, snow-packed road directly in front of his apartment. The room he rented was over the laundromat. The light that shown over the door spotlighted her. She did a little dance, a bump and grind, some twirling.
had some interesting stories about bears and the indigenous. At one point David noticed that he was missing his left thumb. “Does the word ‘Whispy’ mean anything to you?” David asked. The stranger startled. “Man, you don’t wanna be saying that name. You don’t ever say that name again. Don’t tell nobody. You see it a second time, you run. Or really bad things gonna happen.”
“Hey!” He yelled at her. “Hey, I been trynna get ahold of you!” He drunkenly jogged towards her. “Hey, what the fuck you do to me?! I cut off my own damn thumb! Hey!!”
“I did see her a second time,” David admitted, a feeling of dread rising in his chest. “What do you mean about ‘really bad things?’”
She just stood there, waiting for him. She didn’t say a word, just looked at him with that same sly little smile on her lips. He came up to about six feet of her. He didn’t want to get too close. He just stood there, panting, looking at her. “Look, I don’t want no trouble; I just wanna know what you did to me,” David said to her.
The man quickly dumped some money on the bar and shook his head. “I’m sorry, man; I gotta get out of here. I don’t want to ever meet up with that evil again.” And he hurried out of the bar, furtively looking around as he left.
David was just sick about it all. He finished out the night and went home. The next day he caught the She walked toward him with her hands up, palms bus that would bring him south. Only instead of out, as if she meant him no harm. He backed away, coming home, he went to Pensacola, Florida. holding his own hands up in defense. Again, going to Pensacola and murdering those
“I heard you were looking for me. I want to tell you people didn’t seem unusual or wrong to him at all. something else.” She laughed her lovely tinkling It was only after it was done that he remembered laugh. the experience of her whispering into his ear. He immediately started vomiting and continued until “No way! No damn way!” He stumbled. Someone he felt like he was going to vomit up his intestines. grabbed him from behind. Someone very big and someone very strong. Tenga, David thought. David Then he curled into a ball and keened. “My mind completely shut down.” He said. “I couldn’t bear was tossed to the ground and the Whispy was on what I had done. I still can’t. I deserve to die for him, kneeling on his chest, bending to his ear. what I did but it wasn’t really me who did it. She David felt the same deep pain in his head. He yelled in anguish. The Whispy jumped off him and put that into me.” she and the bear-man jogged down the street, away from town, into the dark. He could hear her laughing as he writhed on the ground.
David wanted me to try to find the Whispy and make her admit what she did to him. He didn’t want to ask me but it was the only way to save his life. “How?” I asked. It seemed impossible. It He never saw her again. He was sick for a week, like last time, but the worst thing was his misery. seemed like he was still very crazy and it would just drain me of my skimpy little savings and He held his right thumb to his chest. He wrote on his thumb a big NO! in magic marker. He refused to probably put me in debt, even. And I would have to quit my job. I told him I would think about it. He chop wood or even go near an axe. Finally, he decided he’d had enough of Alaska. He only needed told me that she was so little and I would have the to work another week at the bar to have money for element of surprise. He wanted me to capture her the bus ride home. He stopped drinking and gave and take her to the little jail for questioning. He gave me details of his ridiculous, foolish, stupid away everything that didn’t fit in his backpack. plan. On his last slow night, a man came in and sat at the bar. David hadn’t seen him before. They chatted a I worried over it for the next week. I called our little, like you would on a slow night. The man had little sister to talk about it but she was working been bumming around Alaska for a few years and two jobs, barely supporting her three kids and I could hear the exhaustion in her voice. I didn’t 16
mention it. I finally decided I would just go. I had no hope that I would find a Whispy. At the most, I might find a psychotic little barfly who had mixed in with David’s craziness somehow. But I wanted to be a good sister. After years of being helpless, I wanted to do something for David. I didn’t have to quit my job. My boss let me take a three-week leave of absence. I collected my new credit card and drove north. The town David had been living in was dead. The bar, the laundromat, the few other buildings and shacks where people had lived were all closed down, boarded over, and falling apart. I was able to pry a board loose from the front window of the laundromat and squeeze into the building. I was hesitant to try the rickety, half-rotten stairs but I managed to get up to the second story and into the apartment where David had lived. Just trashed and dreary; depressing. It was getting dark. I pulled my car around behind the bar, ate a peanut butter sandwich and got out my Alaska map. I made a plan to visit some of the surrounding towns. Maybe they would be abandoned, too. Maybe I could head home early. My spirits lifted as I snugged in for the night. I was looking forward to sleeping in a bed at some point. I woke up needing to go to the bathroom and I did the usual, stumbling to the back of the car and regretting the loss of all that heat from my body. As I stood up and pulled up my pants, I heard a tinkling laugh. I spun around and a tiny woman with white-blonde hair stood by the door to my car.
“Please, please…” It was all I could think. I had never felt such complete and utter terror. The woman bent down to stroke my hair. “No, you should not have come here.” She was very tender. She reached her hand to my cheek and wiped a tear. Then, violently, she had a hold of my head and whispered into my ear. I shrieked with the pain of it. It wasn’t just a pain deep in my head. Her breath in my ear was lava, flowing deep into my brain, cutting a channel, burning acid, poisoning and invading with evil, a malignant brain cancer. I think I passed out. I don’t know how long I laid on the ground, moaning and crying, as reality tentatively returned to me. I made it into my car and somehow dove away. Like David said, I was sick for the next week. I drove when I could and slept when I had to. Eventually I made it home. I didn’t contact David. I ignored his letters and the phone calls. I blamed him and I also didn’t know how to tell him that she had gotten to me. I sheltered my thumb for years. But nothing happened and after so much time I eventually figured nothing would. But six months ago, I went to Home Depot, found the axe section, selected a nice, shiny one and carefully chopped off my left thumb on the floor of aisle eight. I clearly remembered her compelling me to do it. I clearly remember her laughing and saying, with actual words, more than just an impression, “And that’s not all.” I couldn’t hide my thumb incident as an accident; there were witnesses. And I shrieked hysterically for a very long time. Not from the pain. I was arrested, actually, and “evaluated.”
“Hey, Bear, look, it’s Gigi!” She called out. Gigi was my family’s nickname for me when I was a child. It Since then, I’ve been searching my subconscious. was how David had mispronounced my name I’ve been hypnotized. I’ve taken hallucinogenic when I was born. drugs: LSD, mescaline, shrooms, DMT… I’ve meditated, I’ve visualized. I’ve been to psychics I heard movement on the gravel behind me. I and mediums. Everyone who has had contact with twisted to see what it was. A man the size of a bear. He came toward me and I lurched and fell as my subconscious agrees there is something very I tried to get away. He guffawed and she laughed. bad in there. They shove me out, they won’t make eye contact, they make the sign of the cross and He easily pinned me to the ground and she knelt tell me to never come back. I pound against the beside me. locked doors and yell, “Am I gonna do something “How’s David?” She asked, smiling slyly down at else? Is it over? Did she make me do something me. else?!” “Oh, please,” I moaned. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come here.” I started crying, big gulping sobs.
Solitude -by Jordan Ryan I’m finding peace in the in-betweens Cheeks red in the morning, blushed by the sun Lavender light slips through my blinds Etta James, At Last, 1960 Scratchy on vinyl Thin golden lines shrouding every curve I’ve spent a few years Scared of being alone With me Not comfortable unless There was another palm pressed Against mine
But I trace my own collarbones In the mirror Ivory skin pressed against silk sheets Because intimacy is taught To be reserved for foreign hands But then why do None hold me like my own.
“Bird of Wonder” Photograph Mikayla Bagdonas
“Midas Sprite” Digital Graphic Art A. Endorf
Before He Was A Hero -by Derrick Roland I been in the dark more than I been in the light. Some days I wanted to quit, I didn’t want to fight. I used to wish for a hero to come and save me, tell me everything’s going to be alright. See I grew always wanting to be a hero but I failed and failed and failed a zero. That’s when my people told me in this small city there ain’t no Hope & if you wanna make it you better be good at ball & if not, best get to selling dope. After that I felt my dreams dying. I still remember all them late nights crying. Thinking to myself, is there even any point in trying? I would close my eyes imagining I was a super hero flying. And even when the odds were completely against me I would not lose. One day when I opened up I told myself this will be the path I choose. I’ll train to be like the heroes on tv. I’ll give the people hope when they see me. Now I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I wasn’t going to give up I was destined to make it, believe me! Now this is probably the part where you’re waiting for me to tell you how I trained and became a great hero who lived happily ever after. Well you see this is the beginning of an unfinished chapter so just sit back and wait & one day I’ll tell you a story about how I didn’t give up became great.
COVID THOUGHT 27 APRIL By John R. Turner
Went into a store where one of the workers knew me. She introduced me to a co-worker. "Well, I'd like to shake hands but . . . " she giggled. "That's OK, I prefer THIS," I said and flashed a Vulcan Salute, something I've seen suggested and thought, of course! How much better than lame elbow butting! But by the time I got my hand in the air, she had turned away and gone elsewhere. Hummm. I thought. Well, OK, I've been chided all my life about my weak, whispy voice, and the harrowing strain of confinement has whittled me down to a mere 300 lb., so perhaps my wraith-like aspect was just invisible to her. Later she introduced me to another friend, to whom I flashed the Vulcan Salute. But by the time I got my hand in the air, she had turned away and gone elsewhere. And it suddenly occurred to me: these under-40 younglings had NO IDEA WHAT A VULCAN SALUTE WAS!!! For all they knew, I was some senile surfer who didn't remember the “Hang Loose Hawaii" signal. It's not as tragic as hundreds of thousands of needless deaths. But it's a tragedy, no doubt about that.
COVID THOUGHT 9 MAY: USS CATCH-22 It's a lack of the sense of irony. Mine was brought to fruition and honed to sharpness by reading Catch-22 in high school. Imagine a book like that being taught in the prudish, uptight prisons we call high schools today! All the sex, the grisly violence, the “fuck yous” and genital references. The whole Evangelical wing of the administration would shrivel up in bloody folds like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark, for pretty much the same reasons. It was the very IDEA of Catch-22 that caught in my mind—the oxymoronic contradictions. You could only be kept from flying bombing missions if you were crazy, and if you didn't want to go on a suicidal mission, you obviously weren't crazy, and had to go. You could only go in to see Major Major in his office when he wasn't there, and so on. So we send the Medical Ship Comfort to New York. But we don't want it spreading the Coronavirus, so a lengthy screening process is set up to vet possible patients. Of course, no one can pass the damn thing, so after a week in port, there's only a dozen patients in it. Tempers are raised, screaming ensues, and finally it's opened for use. If only someone in the administration or the military read Heller. They would have known the bitter irony of having a medical ship you could not get onto if you were sick.
COVID THOUGHT 31 MAY: SUMMER CAMP BE DAMNED Before the summer started this Plague year, there seemed to be almost universal concern for the safety, viability, logistics and availability of Summer Camp. I must ask: What in the screaming hell FOR?? In a childhood particularly devoid of bonhomme and camaraderie, nothing takes a lower rung on the ladder into the social cesspool than my one-day experience of camp. Camp was boring, dumb, invasive, dumb, boring, poorly organized, boring, uninspired, dumb, and, most of all, boring. It took place right in the elementary school that I had just vacated a few weeks ago to great delight. Nothing but bad memories infested those thuggish halls. We stood around, did dumb exercises, stood around, ate something indistinguishable from whatever was lying on the floor, stood around, and finally sat down to weave. Reeds were brought over. It was explained how to make them into a circle, then build layers over that base to bring up the sides. The reeds had to stay wet to be supple. You had to keep dipping them in washbasins full of putrid brown water. Yes, back in the day, there really WAS underwater basket weaving, the ‘joke’ about camp used by every stand-up comedian. But it is, or at least was, a thing. I eventually made sense out of the jumbled explanation and got the base done. I never added any sides. I took my base home. It smelled like raw sewage. It was quickly and understandably disposed of as far from the house as possible. My weaving career was finished. And of course, whenever one had to use the facilities, one was exposed to the slam-youagainst-the-wall-and-kick-you-in-the-nuts-culture of young male America. It’s a wonder they even had urinals since anyone not six feet tall and as many feet wide wound up wetting the floor. I never went back, and I never missed it. I doubt anyone else does, except for the nutkicking thugs. Let them beat each other to death. They won’t be missed.
QUARANTINE NOIR -by John R. TurnerThe scotch in my mug couldn’t cut through the fog in my head. I sat it down and looked out the fly-specked window. It was foggy out there, too, and empty. Week—six? Sixty? Of quarantine. Put a gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you what day it was. My girlfriend Danger came in and put what she had on my table. I was just getting some Not Safe For Work ideas when she said
“That was the hospital on the phone. They’re running out of body bags and there’s none to be had.” Ah, I thought, of course. This was Monday.
“A Dream Among Obstacles” Pencil, Marker, Paint Thi Hoa Phung
“Peaceful Day” Photograph Andrea Daley
For Lyn By Zahra Basti
Once upon a time, I knew a “little fairy” Who lived in a dewdrop. So softly, she sang her heart to the wandering breeze, “A little fairy who died with one kiss each night And was reborn with one kiss each dawn.” Beautiful little fairy, Vanished to the realm of liberation and serenity, But she doesn’t know No, she doesn’t know that In the empty hallways, Caught in the cold of bewilderment, We are left to endless loneliness!
“Remix” Pen & Marker Izzi Fenner
“Whitney” Pen & Marker Izzi Fenner
“Locking Through” Photograph Roberta Osmers
Scott Community College Student Artists
at The Figge Art Museum College Invitational
The Figge Museum in downtown Davenport is currently hosting its 11th College Invitational, which features the work of 42 area college artists, from students attending Augustana College, St. Ambrose, Black Hawk College, Knox College, Monmouth College, Western Illinois, EICC’s Clinton and our own Scott Community College. While COVID led to the cancellation of the 2020 display, this year’s 2021 collection was celebrated at a virtual opening on Thursday, February 4. The colorful and eclectic exhibition features the work of two of our SCC students – Maggie Borota and Bobby McNamar. Check out their work in the next few pages AND pay a visit to the Figge to see these incredible pieces in person. College artists’ work will be on display on the second floor of the museum through June 6, 2021.
Bobby McNamar Sophomore, Scott Community College
Unfinished Art, 2020 Mixed Media on Canvas As a student-artist in 2020, my work reflects my belief that art, like life, involves change and is never truly finished. This piece was inspired by Modernism, Pop Art, and abstraction. The subject matter concerns the elements and principles of art because those are the building blocks of visual imagery. Line, color, shape, pattern: I created simple variations of these within each area. The smaller painting can be rotated, but I set it at an angle to create a more dynamic visual experience. Because life is imperfect, my work is imperfect. I have intentionally left flaws throughout the piece.
COME SEE BOBBY’S WORK ON DISPLAY AT THE FIGGE THROUGH JUNE 6
Maggie Borota Freshman, Scott Community College Through the Motions, 2020 Acrylic on Canvas As time moves on this year, it has felt begrudgingly slow. It feels like we’ve been stuck, just going through the motions. This feeling of time is represented by the flowing heads connected through hair in my piece. Although the year has overall felt lackluster and like it could stretch on for an eternity, I know through reflection I have grown. Not only as an art student, but as a person as well. I wanted this to be represented by showing flowers coming into full bloom because as time moves on so do we.
COME SEE MAGGIE’S WORK ON DISPLAY AT THE FIGGE THROUGH JUNE 6
“Sacred Stone Icons” Graphic Art A. Endorf
SEE MORE WORK BY THE ARTIST FOLLOWING THE INTERVIEW!
AN INTERVIEW, THAT BECAME A CONVERSATION, BETWEEN TWO STORYTELLERS: SCC STUDENT A. ENDORF & SCC ALUM CHRIS HUTTON
Editor’s Note: About the Creative Minds You Are about to Encounter The following interview-turned-conversation between A. Endorf, a current SCC student, and Chris Hutton, an alum of SCC, was the product of my pestering both of them. I want to express my sincerest appreciation to both of them for their time and effort, and owe them each a debt of gratitude. A. Endorf’s art and writing spans varying mediums and forms, though finds special home in the graphic art space, and Chris Hutton’s writing journey has likewise been eclectic & eccentric, similarly demonstrating a gravitational pull towards the universe of graphic storytelling. I hope readers find their dialogue as beautiful & insightful as I do.
A: Hi Chris! Can you introduce yourself - where have you gone to school, what hobbies do you have, and what do you currently do for a career? C: Sure! I'm Chris Hutton, I’m from Davenport, I write in just about every medium there is, like comics, films, games, one play, and now podcasts. I also was an independent professional wrestler for 5 years, including during my two years at Scott. I’ve gone to school at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia, the University of Iowa (twice), Western Illinois University for one class, and of course Scott Community College. I love reading, watching anime and movies, playing video games, podcasting, and specifically reading about creators and their lives and processes. Currently, I am a special education paraeducator at South East Junior High School in Iowa City. A: Nice to meet you (again)! We have a lot of similar interests which I think really helped spark our interest in creative writing and art, though I'll touch on that a bit later. I probably should introduce myself as well. I'm a second year student at Scott, though I'll be attending for one more semester in the Fall of 2021 to finish my general education. I'm technically a Liberal Arts major at the moment, but when I transfer I plan on transferring into an art program like Graphic Design or Art and Design. I'm currently unemployed to keep myself safe during COVID-19, but before the pandemic I worked at two places: Oh So Sweet in downtown Davenport, and the Tangled Wood in Bettendorf! I was a Culinary Arts major before I changed degrees because I really love cooking and baking (but not enough to work in it for the rest of my life because of high stress and demand). I always loved drawing while growing up, and besides cooking and baking, I also love playing video games and watching anime and movies, especially Ghibli! A: You mentioned that you like reading, watching anime, and playing video games. What sparked your passion for creative writing? Was there a specific "series" or video game that began it all for you? C: I think what really started it, before I even knew it, was Toy Story and Star Wars. They really captured my imagination, to like
obsessive degrees. I made my parents call me Andy for a while after they took me to see Toy Story in theaters. Honestly, I look back and I think Toy Story is still unintentionally one of the big influences on my style of dialogue in most of my stuff. And in addition to just loving those stories and characters so deeply, watching the special features on my old Star Wars VHS's had to have been the first time I realized that somebody made the movies I watched, which I think was probably a big step toward me starting to write on my own. I read a TON when I was a kid, and so every book I read played a part too, but those are the ones that first sparked it.
motivation kid-me had to draw that much.
C: That's so great. I think the same thing when I look back at myself from elementary school through my first attempt at college. I just wrote a ton and I don't remember ever having anxieties or doubts or worrying about whether or not it was good. I wish so badly my brain worked like that now. I wrote a whole book in high school and early college. It's very bad, like next level terrible in my opinion, but it's a finished book! It takes a lot of training to try to let myself suck now.
A: I feel the anxiety part so hard. I constantly worry about my art A: That's awesome! I also loved Toy Story a lot when I was a kid, being good or not, and sometimes it's very hard for me to let things go unfinished, and it's hard for me to show something that and it was one of my favorite movies growing up. And I think I'm not happy with. I've been trying to tell myself lately that at least realizing that people who were once like you, are now making I'm creating, and if I'm unhappy with it, I can come back and amazing and epic movies, is a big step forward into wanting to redraw it in a few months. It's hard, but it's slowly working, create your own things. I think it helps knowing that these were people who had passions as kids as well, and that anyone is able especially when I can show my art to my friends and have them give me advice or words of affirmation. to start creating regardless of what age they are. I think for me, my biggest thing that I enjoyed was Pokemon. I grew up with a brother that was a little more than 12 years older than me, so he C: Honestly, unless I'm misunderstanding, it might be a good always handed down his old video games to me. He gave me his thing that you don't want to let things go unfinished. I feel like most people that get anxious about creating go the opposite way, Gameboy, his Nintendo 64, his NES, and we shared his where they abandon everything because they're afraid of it not GameCube. One of my first games ever was Pokemon Blue. I loved it a lot, even if I had no idea what was really going on at the being good. But yes, absolutely, everything counts, and as they say, you can't fix a blank page. One of my writing tricks that I've time since I was so young. I also liked creating characters that started using in the last few years is to just write the bad version. I were in the Pokemon universe too since I watched the anime A go almost by stream of consciousness, using casual or nonsense TON, and I think as a kid I tried copying the art style because I language to just get the general idea of what's supposed to just loved it so much. I think other than Pokemon, I also really happen or what someone's supposed to say. That lets me get to grew up on Sonic, Harvest Moon, and a lot of other Nintendo the end really quickly, which is the hard part for me, and then I classics like Legend of Zelda and Punch Out. My love for Pokemon comes and goes whenever a new game is released, but can go back and pretty up what I threw out there and make it real. I still love Nintendo...just different series from it, like Fire Emblem I'm sure there's an art equivalent for that too. and other RPG games like Xenoblade. A: I think with me, or at least me from a few months ago, something is unfinished if I'm still not happy with it. I'm sadly an C: I was a Pokemon Blue kid too! I love that you were creating Pokemon OCs [editor note: OCs = “original characters”] that rules. extreme perfectionist when it comes to my art, especially with anatomy. And with me, I think it's hard for me to show others my My friend and I used to do that for Dragon Ball Z, another huge art and put it out unless I'm happy with it, but I've been trying to influence on me. Don't be embarrassed, Sonic is good! And I redefine what's finished or not in my vocabulary, and have been loved Majora's Mask so much that I tried to put on a play adaptation of it as an elementary schooler. I remember sitting in trying to let go by posting sketches and doodles to my art account class writing down my ideal castings for my classmates. because sometimes it helps with my confidence. Sometimes it lets me know that, "Hey, at least I'm still creating right now, and I'm A: I actually tried making my own comics as a kid, and I proud of that." I think what you said is really good advice though, remember by the time I was in middle school, I had filled several and I think a lot of artists do that with work in progress or quick art books full of a comic I was writing with a Pokemon self-insert little sketches. Everyone has their own art process, and OC who was in Sinnoh (because that was my favorite region sometimes it's really good to just throw down a really quick sketch growing up). I need to find it again because it's crazy how much to get your ideas out, and come back to it sometime in the future! 38
C: Yeah! I get you though, I think being in so many writing and filmmaking classes helped me get over most of my fear around showing people unfinished stuff, but I will say that only applies to a certain level of unfinished. I still don't like for people to see stuff that I'm actively working on, but once I've got it to an acceptable rough draft form I'm okay with showing that. And it sounds like you're getting to that point too!
college. I think at Scott, I definitely agree that my Composition classes have been helpful in developing my writing skills and even my confidence. I have a very hard time speaking up, putting myself out there, and talking about my interests because of my anxiety. Writing and art are like second languages for me, since I have a difficult time verbalizing how I feel to others and maintaining conversation vocally. I've always loved writing, but I think my writing classes here have really pushed me into loving it a lot more. A: Speaking of your writing and film-making classes, I wanted to Scott also does other cool stuff, like creating this magazine and ask you: what kinds of classes did you take to help prepare you for giving creative people their own space to show their work! This has your creative writing and storytelling roles? Any specific ones you been a really exciting and great opportunity for me because I finally want to talk about? Did any of these classes stick out to you in any have a chance to show off the art I've been making this past year way? during the pandemic, and also to let people know that hey, I'm doing something, even if it's freelance! Creating more art for class C: I took a lot of writing classes, at least one at all the schools I and for this magazine has also given me confidence to reopen went to, with varying degrees of helpfulness, but I can genuinely commissions. say I got something out of all of them. The one that sticks out the most was the Playwriting class I took at Iowa. Early in the class we C: It's so, so important to have teachers that encourage creativity had been assigned to write monologues and have them ready to and bring your own interests into the classroom. It both encourages present, which I think a lot of us were nervous about. Then once people like you and me to keep going in our creative endeavors we showed up to class that day, our teacher (Sean Demers, a outside of class, and I think makes school way more tolerable even wonderful playwright and teacher, seek him out if anyone reading for people who don't necessarily have any larger creative this goes to Iowa) stalled for a bit with an intro, and then eventually aspirations. If you like reading comics, and a teacher lets you write was like, “what’s this? A group of trained actors outside the door?” your papers on comics or even make one of your own in place of a And all of us sort of groaned, but with a smile on our faces. It was traditional essay, you are going to get way more out of that so much more of a nerve-wracking situation than what we had assignment. already been nervous about that we couldn’t help but laugh, like, "you got us, I guess we’re doing this." And hearing an actor read A: You said you are currently a special education paraeducator. your dialogue is a really good learning experience. The former pro What kind of role does your creative writing have in your career wrestler in me really appreciates the value of that surprise too. That path, if any? Would you call this aspect of your job more freelance? class was huge for me too because Sean encouraged us to submit C: If you mean my career path as in my full-time job, it has a pretty our ten minute plays we wrote for class to the university's Ten limited role, although it does play a part! I really love the times Minute Play Festival, and mine ended up being selected to be produced for it. That really helped me feel like I can do this stuff. To when I get to help students with creative writing assignments, and shout out Scott Community College too, the Composition II class I occasionally I get to share work that I’ve done with staff and students. I also think that if you’re involved in storytelling, you took here was really important for my development as a person probably care about the thoughts and feelings of others, which and a writer too, because I was actively encouraged as a writer, obviously plays a big role in working in schools. Also, since I've even when the instructor was just reading my essays for class. It worked with kids for 8 years now in various capacities, a lot of my helped with my self-esteem and confidence a ton. work tends to feature kid characters now, and so those jobs have been great research for how to write kids. I've also got a couple A: That's so awesome! I think having someone with more experience than you critique your work or give you advice is always projects I want to do someday with teachers as main characters. If a great learning experience, even if it's nerve-wracking and initially you mean as its own thing, I would love to someday have writing hard to go through. Unfortunately I haven't taken many art classes be my full-time career. I am currently in a weird, kind-of-sort-of freelance situation for now. I have been hired to write a couple outside of high school since my first year at Scott was in the things by a friend, and in January I had a script get selected for a Culinary Arts program. I guess Culinary Arts is technically art in comics anthology that’s going to pay me, so that’s cool. I could itself, but it's not the graphical kind. I'm planning on taking art classes next semester, though, and also once I transfer to a 4-year probably do a better job of putting it out there that I'm available to 39
be hired. But for the most part, I’m either submitting to unpaid charity anthologies or just financing and publishing my own stuff with the money I make from the school job. The hope is that the more stories I put out there and the better I get at the craft, some of those stories will work as calling cards to grow an audience and work-for-hire opportunities. But to be honest, if the rest of my life is working in schools and putting out my own stuff, I’d be happy. Having found a “normal” job that makes me happy relieved a lot of pressure as far as the need to “make it,” which used to cause me a lot more stress. A: That's awesome that you can find ways to incorporate your love of storytelling into the work you do with kids, and I think it's also a way for you to connect to students! I feel like at least with where I went to high school, the arts were severely underappreciated and even neglected at times. I went into this in a comic I made for Composition I [editor’s note: see pages 46-47 for the comic]. I think it's great that you're able to find a way to connect with students, and I also think it's great that it's given you some more inspiration for your work!
submitted my script to the anthology, the publishers decided to include it, then they put together a team for me. I didn't have as much back and forth on that one, since I had already written the story on my own, and at that point was just trying to give everyone any information that might be helpful and offering feedback as art came in. But the collaboration is one of my favorite parts of creating and it's one of the reasons I write comics and films instead of prose. Honestly, it's more fun and much less intimidating to make things with other people. And they're just so good at what they do. There's really not many cooler feelings in the world than seeing the art come back for words you wrote. I tend to do a lot of staring at the pages and gushing to my collaborator when I first get them.
A: That's awesome! I've commissioned people on my own too outside of me getting my own commissions, and it's always the coolest feeling in the world seeing your characters or ideas come to life in someone else's art style. Even though I'm an artist myself, it always makes me so, so happy just to see other people's ideas and interpretations. It's interesting to hear about working in a team though because so far, I've only worked one-on C: Oh that brings up a good point that I forgot to mention: it helps -one between myself and the individual commissioning the work. I me bond with students so easily, which is obviously super was going to ask a question later on about story-boarding/ important. They get so excited when they learn that an adult also thumbnails and generating ideas for comics, but it looks like you likes Naruto and stuff like that. I showed some 8th graders that my already touched on that for me! What process do you go through partner got me the volleyball from Haikyu for Christmas this past when you generate a story on your own, though? year and I was the coolest person in the world for a few minutes. C: It's different every time. I've heard it said before that you never A: As an artist myself, I often get inquiries and take commissions learn how to write things, you only learn how to write this thing. from others, so I know what it's like for a commissioner and visual And then once you start another project you have to start from the artist to collaborate with each other. I wanted to hear your side of ground floor again and figure out how to write the new one. I kind it, though. What is it like for you to collaborate with a visual artist? of feel that. I'll get started on an idea and in my head I'm throwing a tantrum like, "I don't know how to do this, I don't know what I'm C: It really depends! I've only worked with a handful of artists so doing, this sucks, I'm garbage." Even though just the previous far, but they've all been different depending on the person, the week I had been in the same position and gotten through it and project, and the circumstances. J. Matthias Lissak, the artist I've written something I'm really proud of. A lot of times my ideas worked with the most, is a friend of mine so we tend to develop come from thinking about a thing I've seen in other stories a lot, our comics together from scratch, doing a lot of back and forth and then tweaking some part of it. I was trying to think about it in over Skype or phone calls before I go off to write the script. preparation for this interview, and I really can't remember how I [Editor’s note: Check out one of the scripts and final projects from first came up with the idea for “Mouthful,” but clearly that was just a collaboration between Chris and J. Matthias on pages 52-57.] this: what if a human bit a zombie instead of a zombie biting a He'll give me notes on the script, I'll make some changes, then he human? [Reminder from editor: As noted earlier, you can see the draws thumbnails (sort of like a rough draft of the comic), I give script and comic for “Mouthful” on pages 52-57 in this magazine!] feedback on that, and then he draws the final art. He does his After I have that initial idea, lately my process has been to fire up own lettering and colors, but not all artists do, so other times it's a Google Doc and start writing things down like that initial been a bigger team that includes a colorist and a letterer in concept, what I think the story is actually about on a deeper level, addition to the penciller. One example of that was the Inspiration and any miscellaneous ideas. Then I start making sections for the Anthology where I had a comic published. On that one, I plot and for the characters to start organizing and adding ideas for 40
those. Growing up as a writer I was never an outliner, but now I outline almost everything. And I use a 5 act structure, which is INFINITELY more helpful than the 3 act structure most classes will teach you . . . although the 5 act structure is something that just sort of lays over the 3 act structure. They're the same thing really; the five act just cracked open my understanding.
movie for is the hijinks of a serial killer and a teenage girl switching bodies, and that's what your second act consists of. I also always scoffed at creative writing classes that said you should know all these miscellaneous facts about your characters like their birthday and their favorite food, because if it's not going to actually be in the story what's the point? But I read Hirohiko Araki’s book on creating manga - this is from the Here are the notes I took from a video made by Bryan Edward creator of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - and he's got this big list of Hill, a writer for comics and TV. Now I don't use this exactly the like 70 things he fills out for every character he creates. He way he describes, because I tend to think of some of the acts a explained it as a way to make sure your characters are little bit differently, and you don't have to have all of these beats consistent, and for some reason that got through to me, so I've in your story every time. I use structure in a way that's like a tried it a few times since then and I have to admit it can be combination of things I've learned from others and my own really helpful for figuring out who my characters really are intuitive sense for what makes an act break, developed over beyond the surface level stuff I have in my head that I tend to years of watching and reading stuff. All that being said, this is assume is good enough. the story structure that finally got through to me and gave me A: I'm definitely curious about using the five act structure! I've confidence. taken a creative writing class and we never touched on that. FIVE ACT STRUCTURE (laid over Three Act Structure) As for character development, I actually fill out a form for all of my characters that I end up making too, whether I play as them ACT ONE: in D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) or I just have them as an OC Establish The World/Protagonist (original character) that I make art of. Not only do I do a lot of Call to Adventure creative writing with my OCs, but it also just helps me make art Refusal of the Call of them in general, since I can get a better grasp of their ACT ONE CLIMAX: personality and draw them acting like how they would actually Acceptance of the Call act. ACT TWO(a): The True Adventure Begins Introduce New Characters (Tests, Allies, Enemies)
C: Yeah! It puts more limits on you, but like in a good way. Because if you know this person went to such and such school for example, you'd know "well wait a second, this isn't really how they would react in a situation like this." Whereas if your characters are more vague in your head, sometimes that can be helpful to be loose with it and learn about them on the fly, but I think it can also lead to them feeling less defined maybe? Like sometimes they act this way and other times they act another way. Or probably worse, they only ever act one way because you've got a limited version of them in your mind.
MIDPOINT: (Or Act III or Act II b) The Dynamic Changes/Things Fall Apart ACT TWO CLIMAX: Low point ACT THREE: (Or Act IV) Rebuild from Defeat. Face the Enemy for the last time. ACT THREE CLIMAX: (Or Act V) The Enemy Defeated / The New State of the World
A: What would you recommend to do to try and get yourself "out there"? Are there platforms you recommend for people?
Let me add one more thing about Act 2. It gets made fun of a lot, but the screenwriting book Save the Cat gave me a really handy rule of thumb for Act 2, which is that it’s the “Fun and Games” section where you're paying off the premise of your story. So for example, I just watched the movie Freaky the other day, which is like a combination of Freaky Friday and Friday the 13th. The thing people are probably going to see the
C: A huge part of the small successes I've had so far has been being on Twitter. I follow a lot of writers and artists, and a lot of them are really good about plugging opportunities like anthologies that you can submit to as a writer, artist, or team. There are also a lot of Discord communities that I've learned about through Twitter. Personally I'm not very active in the ones that I didn't start myself, but other people might get more out of
them! As far as trying to get yourself out there, I would be following creators you like, making it easy to find things you've made on your social media, and if you're wanting to work with others, put that in your bio! So Twitter is the main platform I would recommend for trying to get yourself out there, and there are a ton of places you can post your work, whether it's Twitter itself, free portfolio sites like Carrd, Gumroad, LINE WebToon, etc. Is that the kind of stuff you were asking about?
experience so far. I wrote and submitted “Worst” in April 2020 and it was published in October of the same year.
The only sites I haven't mentioned yet that I would recommend are creatorresource.com (@CreatorResource on Twitter) and papercatpress.com (@papercatblog on Twitter). The former has a lot of information, from writing tips to estimations of page rates for working professionals at various publishers. The latter is a collection of anthologies and other opportunities, so that could be A: Yeah! That's exactly what I was talking about. I remember us a good place to start looking. I should also say that in case the 7 touching briefly on things like Tumblr, DeviantART, and so on, years thing sounds scary, I was still primarily a wrestler and in about how they used to be good platforms for art but have college during most of that time. Once I was focused on comics somewhat died out with time. I know some people also use as the thing I most wanted to do, it only took about a year and a Instagram and such but it's hard to "make it" on there because of half to have my first thing published. A lot of that year was spent algorithms and high amounts of art theft. I use mostly Twitter as writing and trying to get things going that didn't end up panning well, and I follow a lot of artists with similar interests to me. I think out for various reasons, but it all helps you in the end. Twitter is definitely the best right now in terms of reaching out and building connections, while Carrd is great for building a portfolio or A: You've already given a lot of advice with what you've said, but do you have any other advice for people who are wanting to start laying something out like Commission info/prices/samples. either visual art or storytelling? How did you go about getting published? How long did that process take? Are there any websites you'd like to share for C: I do! For one, don’t wait until you’re “good enough.” Just go others to use? for it and try. In my experience, learning by doing is the best. C: So I've done it a couple different ways. Last year about this time, famous comic book writer named Gail Simone put together a 5 day "Comics School" (which you can still find on Twitter and Discord and take if you or anyone else is interested, as it's a free, self-paced thing), where by the end of it you would have written a short comic script. Some people in the Discord conversation said, hey this is really cool that so many people wrote stuff for this, why don't we collect some of the best ones and publish them in an anthology as full comics? So I submitted the script that I had written, which was my comic “Worst,” and it got picked. “Mouthful” got published because Matthias was putting together their third Quarantine Horror Zine and asked if I'd like to write something for it, and I had luckily already written that script for another artist that disappeared on me. “End of the World Tour” and “Battle of the Ages” were projects that Matthias and I made for contests we had found on Twitter. “End of the World Tour” didn't win and “Battle of the Ages” tragically didn't get submitted in time thanks to bandwidth issues on the contest site, but the best part about entering contests like that is that regardless of whether or not you win, you still win, because now you've got a finished piece you can share or sell. As for how long the process took, if we're talking from the first time I tried writing a comic to when my first one came out, that would be 7 years. But if we're talking from submission to publication, it usually goes pretty quick in my
Another key is to start with something small and attainable rather than your magnum opus. Additionally, while seeking out advice from people above you in your creative field is awesome, I recommend trying to make connections and make friends with people around your level too. And finally, I haven’t quite figured out how to take my own advice on this one yet, but don’t beat yourself up about “real artists do x y and z every day.” Why should art be the only job that doesn’t get days off? A: I agree with all of these a lot, especially the first and last ones! I feel like many people who want to be an artist compare themselves to people around them, especially those who are younger. I know I often compare myself to artists who are still in high school and are creating really impressive and amazing art almost daily. Everyone has a different story though, and has different experiences. There's no "right age" to be an artist, and I think that's what makes it a great skill because it can be picked up and enjoyed, or at least should be, by anyone, regardless of age. I also think it's important that people need to take care of themselves and their body while they're making art. You shouldn't have to work every day; take a break for yourself every once in a while. You only get one body, and if you don't take care of it properly it can come back to bite you in the form of back problems, carpal tunnel, burnout, etc. It's also really important to
me too, and I have a lot of guilt when I'm not working on my art or working on commissions every day...but sometimes you come back to your art or whatever you're doing with a clearer mind, and you're able to just...I don't really know how to describe, but you do it better. I've noticed that sometimes when I don't draw for a week or two, or only just doodle and stuff, my art ends up being a lot better whenever I come back to it. C: Absolutely, I carry around so much stress every day, and when you really think about it, what am I beating myself up for, that I didn't make stuff up and write it down for a couple days? It's obviously very important to me but it's also kind of a silly thing to kick yourself about. And besides, if you're even just thinking about your art, which I am constantly and I'm sure tons of others are too, that counts in its own way. A lot of writing is done in the shower, in the car, over wherever else, when you really think about it. And you need time to do things that aren't making art to give yourself experiences to put back into the things you make. Editor’s Note: I want to reiterate my thanks to these two artists in their willingness to engage in—and transcribe — this amazing conversation. Their contact info is listed below and their work is included in the following pages of this magazine.
Artwork by A. Endorf
Links & Contact Info for the Artists
a Website: https://sebaspen.carrd.co/ Email: email@example.com
c Website: chrisdhutton.com Gumroad Store: gumroad.com/chrishutton Itch.io Store: chrishutton.itch.io Twitter: @TopherDisgrace 43
“Self Portrait” Digital Art
“Libra Icon” Digital Art
“ART HISTORY” - COMIC BY A. ENDORF
“Comfort” Digital Art A. Endorf
“Sirius” Digital Art A. Endorf
“Silas and Lycidas” Digital Art A. Endorf
“Modern Walk” Digital Art A. Endorf
CHRIS HUTTON: SCRIPT FOR
FOLLOWED BY COMIC REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF AUTHORS
Did you know that comics often start as scripts? Here is the script for Christ Hutton’s “Mouthful,” the comic published in the following pages (54-57). Here is a note from Chris on the composition of this script: Unlike screenwriting, there is no set standard format for writing comics. This is what mine look like! Most of the time I use a style that's called Full Script, meaning that I write how many panels there are per page and what happens in each panel, as opposed to Plot Style, where you would write what happens in the story but without telling the artist how many panels or pages to use for each scene. But as you can see, I went with somewhat of a blend of the two here. Even when I write full script, I make sure to let the artists I work with know that they can change things if they think something else would work better, and in this particular script I gave less direction than I usually do because I knew Matthias, the artist, would knock it out of the park if I just gave suggestions and let them do their own thing.
“MOUTHFUL” 12.08.19 - by Chris Hutton PAGE ONE Panel 1: Establishing panel, of a young black girl no older than 8, standing in an alley and looking up at a ladder on the side of a windowed building. Maybe she’s panting, as if she’s had to run to get here. But she should definitely look on edge. Not sure how much of this will be visible here, but we’re in a small midwestern town, the sun just beginning to set. Panel 2: She climbs up the ladder, looking down behind her as she goes, making sure she hasn’t been followed. But as she ascends she’s approaching a window… (Panels 2, 3 and 4 could be in a horizontal row? Or 3, 4 and 5? Whatever you think will help the action move across the page and properly emphasize things.) Panel 3: And a thin but in-tact zombie bursts through the glass, lunging toward the reader. (To be clear, it’s still inside the building, it’s just reaching out.) Panel 4: The zombie, leaning out of the window, grabs onto her shoulder (close to her head), as her eyes go wide with fear. Panel 5: Out of pure instinct, she’s turned her head and bites down on the zombie's arm. Panel 6: The girl shoves the zombie’s arm off of her shoulder. Panel 7: The girl scrambles up the ladder and out of sight, as the zombie lumbers in its place, almost confused, as the sun sets further. PAGE TWO I wanna keep this page somewhat vague because I trust that you’ll come up with a better way to portray this than I could, so I’ll just let you know where it starts and ends, and give suggestions of what could be shown in between. It’s gonna end on a bigger panel, so my editor suggested we use smaller sequential panels to show little details leading up to that. Regardless, the main point is just that we’re seeing the transformation. Feel free to have some fun with what that looks like. Panel 1: A little time has passed, it's getting darker now. Close on the bite wound on the zombie’s arm, as its marred hand scratches at it a little. We can see the impression of the girl’s teeth and a little spit. (Here are some suggestions of what could be shown in the panels in between, but again, if you have other things you wanna show, please go for it: We pull out from the wound, and we see that the zombie suddenly stumbles while walking with a pack of other zombies. It falls to its knees, is it...sweating? The zombie has collapsed further, eyes rolling back in its head, its body still. Then the former zombie takes a sudden harsh inhale, his eyes opening wide as his heart, lungs and brain kick back on and his skin begins to heal.) FINAL PANEL Big panel. The newly reborn human is standing up at the back of the pack of zombies, looking over his shoulder and into the night, no idea what to do next but alive once more. (Title and credits)
Political Philosophy and Contemporary Politics— How Did We Get into This Mess?
The current state of politics in America looks like a mess. People with different views use the same words—liberty, equality, justice—but seem to be speaking different languages. In this course, students will work together to develop an in-depth understanding of the foundations of political philosophy and the development of concepts central to the political views that shape our world. In the process, we will come to see points of real connection between these ideologies—shared ideas and values—but also gain a better sense of the real differences. Hopefully, we will come out of the course with a better sense of how to talk to one another despite our differing views, an important first step in developing a more functional political life.
Honors Seminar (HON-923) Fall 2021 Monday and Wednesday 1:50-3:20 PM Ask your advisor or email Andrew Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Art: Art Appreciation, Drawing, 2-D Design, Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Ceramics, Art History 1 & 2, Digital Photography Drama: Introduction to Theatre, Acting I & II, Rehearsal and Performance, Acting Lessons, Directing, Technical Theatre, Introduction to Film Writing/Literature: Creative Writing, Introduction to Literature, American Literature, Film as Literature, African American Literature, Contemporary Literature, Children’s Literature, Other Special Topics Literature Courses Humanities: Humanities of the Early World, Humanities of the Renaissance, Humanities of the Modern World
Inspired by Da Vinci’s “Lily” Drawing by Matt Van Pelt
“Lightpaint Headstock” Photograph by Roberta Osmers 39 59
For inquiries about Inkwell, or to submit work for the next annual publication, email INKWELL@EICC.EDU. 60