Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fax From Sarajevo : messages from heartache and hope in a war zone


Halfway through the fourth chapter, I had to put this down for a while. My heart has gradually opened to the people of Croatia, which I prepared to make my adopted country last year. Can you imagine a country where no asks your ethnicity, one day, and then, a couple years later, you watch everything you own burn and hide in fear with your family because of an ethnic cleansing? I am still ferreting out the details of those times. I don't yet know the full history that drove the Serbs to follow Milosevic's plans, nor what complications led to the long-delayed U.N. response. Take this story of this one family...then imagine this happening to 200,000 people, with 150,000 more interred in camps! Even if there are more sides to this story than are here told, it's not surprising where Kubert's sympathies lie, nor is there any denying the privations detailed herein.
Some may criticize Kubert's scratchy style, but I think the worn look works well with the world-weary setting. My Croatian friends live in a nation where literally millions of people fled for their lives. A generation later, this part of the world is still rebuilding---already difficult due to post-Communism economic difficulties. The younger generation may be full of people who already want to simply forget; it must be an exhaustive subject there. Yet I am certain many people my age and older still wonder how this came to pass, and see life in peace together as something of a miracle. They must surely wonder what holds it together now, when all was madness, then.
Ervin Rustemagic, a European comic book agent, personally sent faxes whenever possible to his cohorts in Holland and America throughout the siege of Sarajevo. It is hard to realize this was one the site of the 1984 Olympics, a meeting place of the world, turned into a war zone. We are with him as he desperately wonders when the rest of the world will say "enough" to the genocide portrayed herein. His children can't go in the street for fear of snipers, who deliberately target the little ones and women; they hear of rape camps; they live on rice and bread with limited electrical power, with their only way to the Embassy constantly bombed and patrolled. Even after all his possessions of the past twenty years are burned by bombing, Ervin still donates his car to the local hospital. (Miraculously, comic books are used in small stacks to protect people inside the car from gunfire---an interesting bit of real life symbolism.) He realizes his contacts provide him a thread of hope not available to all of his fellow tenants. International bureaucracy proves nearly immovable, filled with broken promises; the family risks their lives in a frustrating attempt to break the rules. An illegal foray into Croatia leaves Ervin alone in Split. He later flees to Rijeka, Porec, and Zagreb to save Edina, Maja and Edvin. He shoves aside the loss of everything and fear for the future every day in order to survive.

Halfway around the world, these events may not have seemed very real to most Americans, even despite international reactions to any terrorist activity in the major countries. As much like hell as the world of this story depicts, I marvel at how Bosnia-Herzegonvina and my dear Croatia have recovered since. That is a story I must see for myself one day. Croatian, Bosnian, and Serbian cultures share most of the same language, authors, history and art, so it is baffling how divided these people became, enough to destroy whole cities and battle to the death over territories in the wake of the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

 Religion is one of the only dividing factors, and given the casual attachment to religion, frankly, it's a frightening puzzle, how they were turned against one another. (These same religions more or less live side-by-side in peace in America.)
Kubert's story was very effecting, perhaps because of the reality, to me, of people around the world, as is now more common in the Internet age. Again, I am sure there is more to the story. I will have to see Joe Sacco's graphic novel one day, since he was actually there. My affection for that part of the world has encouraged me to go there one day, and see the sequel to these troubles myself, in the daily lives built in the wake of war that defies simple description in relaying its sadness and power. In Hrvastski: Na pola puta kroz četvrtom poglavlju, morao sam staviti ovo dolje za neko vrijeme. Moje srce je postupno otvoren za hrvatski narod, koji sam pripremio da bi moj usvojena zemlju prošle godine. 

http://integr8dfix.blogspot.com/2013/06/halfway-through-fourth-chapter-i-had-to.html Možete li zamisliti zemlju u kojoj ne traži svoju etničku pripadnost, jednog dana, a onda, prije par godina kasnije , što gledati sve što posjedujete spali i sakriti se u strahu sa svojom obitelji zbog etničkog čišćenja? Ja sam još uvijek ferreting će pojedinosti tih vremena. Ja još uvijek ne znam punu povijest koja je protjerala Srbe slijediti Miloševićeve planove, niti što je dovelo do komplikacije dugo odgađani UN odgovor. Iskoristite ovu priču o ovoj jednoj obitelji ... onda zamislite ovo događa na 200.000 ljudi, s više od 150.000 pokopani u logorima! Čak i ako postoji više strana u ovoj priči nego se ovdje govori, to je ne čudi gdje Kubert dobio simpatije laž, niti postoji bilo niječući privations detaljno ovdje. Neki mogu kritizirati Kubert je grebanje stil, ali mislim istrošeni izgled dobro radi s umoran od svijeta okruženju. Moj hrvatski prijatelji živjeti u društvu u kojem se doslovno milijuni ljudi su pobjegli za svoje živote. Generacije kasnije, ovaj dio svijeta je još uvijek obnavlja --- već teže zbog postkomunizma gospodarskih poteškoća. Mlađe generacije mogu biti pun ljudi koji su već žele da jednostavno zaborave, ona mora biti potpun predmet postoji. Ipak, siguran sam, mnogi ljudi moje dobi i starije uvijek pitam kako se to dogodilo da, i vidjeti život u miru zajedno kao nešto čudo. Oni sigurno treba čuditi što ga drži zajedno. Ervin Rustemagic, Europski strip agenta, osobno šalje faksove kad god je to moguće kako bi njegovi sljedbenici u Nizozemskoj i Americi tijekom opsade Sarajeva. Mi smo s njim dok je očajnički pita kad je ostatak svijeta će reći "dosta" na genocidu prikazana ovdje. Njegova djeca ne mogu ići u ulici zbog straha od snajpera, koji su namjerno ciljaju djecu i žene; čuju silovanja logorima, oni žive na rižu i kruh s ograničenom električne energije, s njihovom jedinom putu prema Veleposlanstvu konstantno bombardiran i pregledana. Čak i nakon što su svi njegovi posjedi u posljednjih dvadeset godina su gorjele od bombardiranja, Ervin još uvijek daruje svoj automobil na lokalnoj bolnici. (Nekim čudom, stripovi se koriste u malim hrpama za zaštitu ljudi unutar automobila iz vatrenog oružja --- zanimljiva malo stvarnog života simbolike.) Ostvaruje svoje kontakte pružiti mu nit se nadam nije dostupan za sve njegove sustanari.Međunarodni birokracije dokazuje gotovo nepokretna, ispunjen prekršenih obećanja; obitelj riskira svoje živote u pokušaju da frustrirajuće prekršiti pravila.Protuzakonito prepad u Hrvatskoj ostavlja Ervin sam u Splitu. On je kasnije bježi u Rijeci, Poreču i Zagrebu spasiti Edina, Maja i Edvin. On gura na stranu gubitak svega i straha za budućnost svaki dan da bi preživjeli. Na pola puta oko svijeta, ovi događaji ne mogu se činiti vrlo stvaran za većinu Amerikanaca, čak i unatoč međunarodnim reakcijama na bilo terorističkih aktivnosti u većim zemljama. Koliko kao pakao kao svijet ove priče prikazuje, ja čuditi kako će Bosna i Herzegonvina i moj dragi Hrvatska se oporavio od. To je priča sam za sebe mora vidjeti jedan dan. Hrvatski, bosanski, srpski i kultura dijeli većina istog jezika, autora, povijesti i umjetnosti, tako da je zbunjujuće kako je podijeljeno tih je ljudi bilo, dovoljno da uništi cijeli gradovi i borba na život i smrt nad područjima u svjetlu raspada Jugoslavije . Religija je jedan od samo dijeljenjem faktora, i dati povremeni vezanosti za religiju, iskreno, to je zastrašujuće puzzle, kako su se okrenuli jedan protiv drugoga. (Te iste religije više ili manje live side-by-side u miru u Americi.) Kubert priča vrlo je izazvalo, možda zbog stvarnosti, mi, ljudi širom svijeta, kao što je sada češće u doba interneta. Opet, ja sam da postoji više priča. Morat ću vidjeti Joe Sacco je crtani roman jednoga dana, budući da je zapravo tamo. Čak i ako moji snovi nisu temeljili na iskrenom ponudom, ljubav prema tom dijelu svijeta je ohrabrio da odem tamo jedan dan, i vidjeti nastavak ove nevolje sebi, u svakodnevnom životu izgrađenih u svjetlu rata koji prkosi jednostavan opis u prosljeđivanje njegova tuga i moć.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Spaceknight reveries, or reading-only memories: from I'd Go Anywhere With You by Cecil Disharoon


The next day, they returned to Aurora, to get directions to the hangout Sarah told them about. She said she hoped to see them there Thursday night. They also helped themselves to a deep purple cloak, a scarlet hair bow, and a stack of Zon, Cosmic Knight From Beyond comic books for a dime apiece.
(Art, Lue Lyron -after Sal Buscema) That night, and for several afterwards, they lie reading them, butt-to-butt, on the palette they had made from blankets, on the living room floor. Save for the lawn chair Troy had brought them, there were never any furnishings, except for the shower curtain they bought in the drug store on the first floor. Sometimes they snuggled up to read just one, together, narrating aloud.
Gina enjoyed the Shakespearean flavored dialogue of the cyborg Zon, as well as his tormented, unrequited love for Sandy Davis, as he defended her small West Virginia town from disguised aliens that fit into the unsuspecting lives of Clairionville. His mission to clear Earth of his shape-shifting foes took turns through haunted Scottish castles, undersea kingdoms, hyper time dimensions, worlds out of phase, Russian nuclear dead zones, and even, for a time, back to the stars themselves. The Invasion of the Body Snatchers tone was inspired by the Cold War, the mood of a different time. A philosophical ninja master, a futuristic mystic, and mutant super heroes guest starred, but the lonely and romantic main story continued its twists through more than two dozen issues, stacked in a sometimes neat pile which the two raided along with cups of cool sweet tea, and meals of oven-toasted bread topped with Prego sauce and Parmesan cheese. It was like no honeymoon found at the travel agency. The armor-bound star man’s love story and setting made Lewis think of the towns they had seen on the road. He was glad to have found something so much fun they could do together, so cheaply, and cherished her speculations as they read.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Terror In a Tiny Town: a convenience store discovery on a honeymoon trip (from I'd Go Anywhere With You, by Cecil Disharoon)


Late that afternoon, Lewis felt sympathy for his new bride’s queasiness, and offered to pull off at a convenience store. He found it interesting, to ponder what encounters each one might hold, what kind of people worked at each one and frequented each one. When you are from out of town, after all, you never can tell what makes one better than the next. There is a self-contained feeling with long road trips, as one encounters places never seen again, passing through.

This particular stop contained a real blast from the past. There, on the magazine rack, just as they were years ago when he mowed lawns and saved the pittance of grade incentive money from his parents. Comic books! He tried not to dawdle in getting a cold drink and snack back to the car. His choice was obvious: a big reprint volume of stories, starting with a triple-sized issue that came out a couple of years before he could earn money to buy issues of his own. He smelled the air floating down from the red clay of the mountain looming across the street. He invited his love to relish a stretch. She commented on his one splurge item with a smile.

“Yeah, I don’t when I last bought one,” he said, grinning. “Last thing I got was a surreal run of issues of Shade, the Changing Man, and Kid Eternity, from a discount box. This one’s all classic superheroes. In fact, the guy who wrote this first one also drew it and embellished it with ink, for printing, which is pretty unusual in the industry. I always wanted to read it! Hope you don’t mind.” “Anything that makes you smile like that is money well spent,” she said gently. “How about I read it to you while we drive?” “No kidding? Okay, if you feel up to it!”

Without pictures, highway miles often blur one into the next. Gina’s reading, however, came complete with voices for the characters, or at least, inflections, and one day, those pages would become a link with those miles. Occasionally he could look over and take it in, but mostly he settled for a mere glimpse. Reading invigorated her, as she kicked her tennis shoes off and propped up her tiny feet. The story introduced the family of heroes enjoying small town life, with the loves of their lives and favorite occupations, in peace. It fit well with the sleepy places that went by the window. Lewis thought he and Gina were themselves rather unusual adventurers, glancing at so many potential places where they could try some quiet life together.

The arch nemesis of the piece, however, had contrived all their fondest dreams as his trap. After all---if they had everything they needed and longed for, who would know it was a trap? Why would they ever want to escape? Giving them their desires was a brilliant way of getting what he wanted! They would be his tiny dolls, fooled into a dream world. He would have their energies and lord his superiority over them, and they would never try to stop him again. Eventually, their wits revealed the deception, hard as it was to accept. Worst of all, however, even if they fought their way to freedom, they had a glimpse of their hearts’ desires, which might never be theirs to keep. They had been sorely tempted by an illusion, and had to tell themselves reality, however bitter, was better because it was the truth. What they learned there, nonetheless, would have lasting repercussions, especially for the one member for whom a normal life was sadly impossible.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A comic geek's wedding congratulations (from I'd Go Anywhere With You)


Two days later, the phone rang. It was his dear college friend Von, wishing him a happy wedding. “Hey, what’s up?” Von started. You could never have guessed English was his second language. A steady diet of American and British programs, and liberal use around his home in Sri Lanka, had prepared him well for his American trip. After his initial shyness led him to be dubbed “The Brown Recluse,” he never missed a chance to come to the drawing room or the bars and diners on the Strip and socialize.
“So Peter Parker’s found his Mary Jane?” “She’s in my web, Von.” “Well, don’t let her slip away,” he quipped. “No bridge diving without a bungee! Although I can understand a girl diving off the George Washington Bridge to get away from your diatribes.” “Aw, get stuffed, Von. She’s such a sweet, down-to-Earth chick. I can’t wait for you to meet her. We met last month.” “Wait, are you doing this for a green card or something?” joked Von.
“Yes, and I rushed the date before she notices they’re counterfeit dollars,” Lewis retorted. “So Booster Gold needed to marry before he got deported back into the time stream,” rhapsodized Von, “and Blue Beetle bribed Queen Bee to tie the knot with him, with Batman officiating?” “And the whole thing takes place on the island of Kooey Kooey Kooey,” continued Lewis, “so they can have a casino wedding. Until they ask for any objections, now or forever hold your peace, and Major Disaster shows up with a ring and a desperate plea!” “Last month. Wow! She must be really into you!” “We were about to flee the country---I mean, travel across the country---and we decided to let her Dad officiate. If she comes to her senses the next day, I figured you would fly around the Earth at super-speed and save us an annulment!” “If you get near my neck of the woods, you should stop by Mallet,” Von offered. “I’m moving out next month with a couple of friends, but you two will be welcome there, too!”

Caricatures! Integr8d Soul's got'em in San Diego!!


While we usually do naturalistic comic book art and portraits, we were more than happy to break out caricature and cartoons for Jovita's Graduation Party! It was great, kicking off summertime in a great atmosphere, dazzling the cheerful crowd with our humble talents. We loved sending people home with our unique cartoon keepsakes. rocketbadoom@gmail.com or integr8dsoul@gmail.com is the hook up, if you want to invite us! Our fees are very reasonable---and flat! We sing and play, as well, if you want live musicians. https://sites.google.com/site/badoombadoombadoom/ has just SOME of the songs we play, and we can add more with a little notice. We had too much fun. The guests sometimes made us laugh, as much as we made THEM laugh! On the spot, we were taking pieces of dialogue from our conversation to spice up the drawings with word balloons. We did a few realistic portraits, as well. We offered "silly or serious?" Naturally, lots of people just said "whatever!" Everyone was fun to talk with, and people kept coming out for cartoons late into the night. We were invited to draw for three hours, but who could resist staying another hour, until the end? We shot out about thirty drawings, kids, adults, and pairs. We were invited in to have a wonderful dinner courtesy of Valentine's in Chula Vista, and cake. We were asked to come in and join the dancing, too! If only we'd gotten a picture of the one where we were asked to make the father Darth Vader, posed with his daughter. We worked from a photo to get the absent daughter into the drawing. Why he wanted to add a platypus, I don't know! "I am your father," indeed. Patricia was kind enough not only to ask us to come, but even bought our supplies, as well as two yummy meals a piece. WE can only hope next time she's got a party, we'll be there with Sharpies and grins.