This is a minicomic story I drew in 2015, to debut at SPX. It was available as a PDF and print mini for a while before I made it free, and now I offer it on the main site with commentary! It's a little less strip-like than usual, more similar to the era where OP was updating in larger chunks. It takes place in the early-mid 2000's.

During my youngest, hungriest years I was briefly an assistant for a photographer in his gigantic lofted SoHo studio, the kind of space a non-millionaire would've needed to secure 25 years prior. He really didn't know what to do with an assistant, and I really didn't know how to be helpful, and so I was merely a target for his contempt. He provided no references for my next job. On my last day there, I snatched a bit of his hash.

As a teacher I grapple with what I can actually offer the younger generation of craftsmen. I can point out a lot of things they're doing wrong, but the truth is I don't know how much of what I did is possible to emulate. I can encourage students to be scrappy self-starters, but my definition of that is broad in a world of evolving markets and tech. It feels as if the ocean has washed many times over the landscape I knew, and this is a lesson in itself I try to impress on the students. Hanna is on the verge of seeing that Jacques may not have her best interests at heart with this kind of "take your lumps" work - but what is the alternative? He is just a craftsman himself, not a true arbiter of industry power, and his proximity to The Life is what she's after.

5 thoughts on “OTSAN #1

  1. All the same, what a dick

  2. I love that instead of going to bed early and waking up early, Hanna plans to stay up so late she'll be awake for a 5 AM shift

  3. "All great craftsmen must abuse their bodies, it is a rite of passage to mastery" is horseshit, but it's horseshit that both the master and the apprentice often desperately want to believe is true, albeit for different reasons.

  4. Yup, paisley bandanas were definitely a thing in the early 2000s.

  5. "his proximity to The Life is what she’s after."

    This strikes such a deep chord for me. My upbringing was very conventional, conservative, sheltered, suburban and religious. By my second year of college I was suffocating from the terror that my choices seemed to be to marry young (if the opportunity presented itself, which seemed unlikely) and devote myself to babies, or to wear nylons to a meaningless 9-5 office job that I would be stuck in forever.

    I was an awkward, quirky, nerdy kid without the technical skills that might have given me financial freedom or an artistic gift to give me a direction. All I knew careerwise was what I wanted not to do, a little like John Cusack in Say Anything.

    I knew I wanted to travel, but no one I knew was travelling. I planned a lengthy road trip with a roommate but I knew it wasn't feasible. Where would we get money for gas and food? People did this, theoretically, but how?

    I wanted "proximity to The Life".
    The Life was authenticity, but it was also a map of the terrain. It would show what was possible.

    Recently I had a sudden compulsion to write a letter to myself at 20. One of the things I told my then-self is that I figured it out, it works out. Not the financial security piece, but the identify part. I built a bohemian life that my parents and siblings think is weird. I made my own thing that still falls into a recognizable and wider bohemian/alternative lifestyle, a paradox that interests me. How does the song go? "I mean, I think you're special. But you fall within a bell curve."

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