of all varieties
was always a problem in my family, and right
about the time I was off to high school
my dad decided to chuck it all and try to drink
himself to death.
My mom had held jobs, mostly waitressing,
from the moment the older children could look
after the younger ones, but after enduring twenty
years of drunken abuse from my
father she said to hell with it, too, and the
two of them entered into a horrible game of Economic
Chicken with us kids riding that white line in
heavy traffic. Suddenly, one day, they were just
gone. The result was that for about the next
three months or
so I and my five sibs, aged 10-17, were mostly
I honestly don't remember how I got by from day
to day but I'm sure it involved the largesse
of friends. But that only went so far so, needless
to say, and as the school year wore on I'm sure
I began to look a bit ragged.
The highlight of that grim period was art class.
In fact, I showed enough raw talent that I was
allowed into the industrial arts program. This
was responsible for the creation of all the art,
signage and ribbons the school required. I particularly
enjoyed silk-screening. These two classes
gave me focus and kept me relatively
Eventually the fine art class introduced us to
oil paints and I happily discovered that I had
aptitude for the medium. From still lifes to
abstract expressionism I raced through a lot
of paint and canvas.
Sales of paintings by high school
kidlings were rare,
in my podunk little town, so the handful of masterpieces
for which I received modest sums was
me. Even though they were probably pity sales
I'm pleased to say that, even after thirty years,
a couple of my paintings still grace the hallways
of the old alma mater.
Eventually Dad hit the limit of his bar tabs
and returned to work. Mom reappeared from wherever
she'd disappeared and ran the household again
as though nothing unusual had occurred. I eventually
got a part-time job, a cheap car and a girlfriend.
Life was suddenly endurable.
owe my two
art teachers from that period a huge personal debt, but it's sadly
one that I can never repay as they've passed on. So this comic is for
and all the teachers that make big differences in their students
lives. Even the differences that take years to understand.