Every once in a while, I feel like punching someone in the face. A crazy person with a chicken intheir hands will approach me on the subway and demand I give up my seat for her, because itâ€™s their â€œspecialâ€ seat. Other times, the nice people at my cable companyâ€™s tech support will keep asking me to wait another week before sending the signal, which doesnâ€™t come a week later, which prompts me to call, which leads the nice people to ask me to wait another week, in a never ending cycle.
And then, sometimes, I want to punch myself. Either I say something wrong, or donâ€™t say what I should have said, or forget something, or forget that I had said something wrong and should have kept quiet, or notice Iâ€™m out of clean underwear.
Whenever those things happen, you feel like absolute crap, and the last thing you want to do is sit down, grab a piece of paper, and come up with a nice pretty joke for your talking animal comic strip. It takes a while for it to sink in, but eventually you learn a valuable lesson:
Is your mother taking all your money? Use it. Are you confused because you have to choose between your girlfriend and your dog? Use it. Are you a fumbling artist from a third world country who insists on writing in english even though itâ€™s not your native language? Use it. You get the idea. Turn whatever is bothering you into an idea for your comic.
The trick, and the fun part, is bending your despair into a neatly packaged four panel strip. Thereâ€™s nothing harder than putting your pain in the mouth of a talking animal, and then making a joke about it; once you do, I guarantee you will feel better. Proud, even, because unlike most therapy sessions, at the end of it, youâ€™ll have a little story that you made with your own hands, take home and show to all your friends. With luck, people will mistake the pain for wisdom and will ask you to guest-blog over at their site. (It happens!)
And no therapeutic pillow type at the shrinkâ€™s office is going to give you that.
(The only thing I have yet to manage to use as an outlet is my frustration for not having a more popular comic. How do you make a character mope about being smaller than Mickey Mouse?