Last winter I launched another element to this blog; Cartoon Friday. Mable, feature character, wedged herself between column posts, anchoring the work-week and shuffling us into the weekend with her cute, snarky attitude toward the world.
I've shown Mable, prints and cards I had made last Spring, in a few shows over the last six months and the reception she received has been so strong I decided to take a cue from the universe and re-launch Mable with her very own blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and Etsy shop. I am pleased to announce today, December 12, 2011, the official return of Mable, Brave Mable.
You can make a quick jump to her site, here.
When I left New York in January 2008 I'd sold all of my furniture, given away my stereo, my dishes, pots and pans, heaps of clothing, some artwork and tossed out all my CD cases, opting instead for the easier-to-pack travel cases. Everything I owned had to fit in the back of a rented Ford Explorer, which, despite the guarantee, was not the car presented to me on New Year's Day when I went to collect it on the East side of Manhattan. Minor panic and light negotiation got me the vehicle I needed, significantly larger than what they insisted would be large enough (how could the sales reps have possibly known what I was attempting to accomplish?) But I digress. 'Tis the season for nostalgia, no?
During the subsequent year in Buenos Aires I took a screen printing class, covering various techniques and mediums with which to print. It was the t-shirt project where Mable showed up, a girl in black dress, head full of curly black hair, and striped stockings. She faced away from me and held a single flower behind her back, right leg crossed behind the left. I printed her between the shoulder blades on racer-back tank tops, black on white and white on bright red. I have no idea where she came from. She just showed up. It was later, back in the United States, that her snarky attitude surfaced and her melo-dramatic leanings offered some personal sanity-preserving medicine.
I was living then in a bedroom packed with over-large furniture, purple wall paint and floral, smothering, trim abutting the ceiling and boxes and piles of stuff not belonging to me. I was living in someone else's life and I, a minimalist - if there isn't a proper place for an item, the item goes - worked hard to see the generous benefit of where I'd landed. After all, it was my choice to leave a solid income job, liquidate my belongings and skip town (make that, country) on little more than a whim, trusting, always, that things were going to work out, and work out for the better. This is when Mable again appeared.
In that sweet, lavendar room, I hung a calendar meant for my youngest sister that Christmas, featuring month after month of kitties. Caroline loves cats and all things cats. I suppose we are a cat family, always had them growing up. I'm perfectly fond of our six-toed Patches, though I would not say I am cat-crazy. Not even close. Cute cat calendars are great, on someone else's wall. So I drew cartoons, featuring this Mable character, whoever she was, and pasted the humor over the cat photos, making my own calendar, instituing some of myself in the borrowed bedroom, and unknowingly following a lead, without expectation.
And here we are today, following another lead, without (much) expectation. I'm keeping my goals low, but I have a number in mind, a monetary value on Mable's head, the other side of my Etsy shop.
Can a cartoon have a philosophy? Can a turtle, or an earth worm? I can't possibly explain why Mable's friends are animals. And a rock. I don't know where those ideas came from, they just arrived. The creative process is largely mystery, reflective, in essence, of life itself.
Many of these cartoons descend directly from real-life conversations. Many are visual, slanted expressions of the conversations in my head. And many, well, I honestly don't know where they come from. They just arrive. But, nearing cliche, the practiced hand, the readied hand, receives the prompting. I find the more creative I am, the more creative I am.
I've loved hearing how much people enjoy Mable's perspective on life, her humor. I love the sound of laughter. Life is difficult, period. No one truly has it easy. Money and circumstance aside, we all have ourselves to contend with, our weaknesses, our insecurities, flaws and demons. That's one universal binder. The other? Laughter. As Tim says, often, if we create our lives, which we do, the big questions eternal enigmas, then why not create a good one?
"A day without laughter is a day wasted."
- Charlie Chaplin
I have so many ideas for Miss Mable, more cartoons, mediums for her humor...I won't even tease you with concrete goods. But know that I am so excited to have her out there, re-born into her own entity, like that calendar a few years back, it seems she has always wanted to be her own. I hope you will check her out on Etsy, LIKE her page on Facebook, and peruse new and old favorite cartoons on her blog. Most of all, I hope you get a chuckle, a feel good vibe, a simple smile from Brave Mable. She feels it is her destiny to provide it. We don't know where we're going, but we might as well have fun getting there.