My Midlife Crisis: Heart and Intestine on Retro Bizarro

Five years ago I said goodbye to childhood. Or rather, I tried to hold onto it as desperately as I possibly could. I drowned myself in Milk & Cheese (the comic, though if I had indulged in actual dairy products it would have explained my temporary excessive weight gain) and Ren & Stimpy. I also spent a lot of time watching Cannibal: The Musical on my 12″ television, and lamenting the fact that I had never went to film school like I wanted to when I was 17.

I worked a dead-end job at Dollar General at some point back then. I’m pretty sure that it happened a year or so before all of the above, but I like to lump it all together to justify why I spent my mid-20s drawing crude renderings of my frustration with the world, manifest as two lovable characters: heart and intestine. I look back on these comics and wish I could have done these fellows more justice, and still hope to down the road when I find someone crazy enough to do some artwork for future comics.

When I was drawing heart and intestine, I contacted the cover artist for my book, asking her if she would be interested in drawing some of the stories I’m about to reveal here. But back then we both had a lot going on, and never seemed to have the time to collaborate, so I drew the comics myself. Every weekend I’d bring my “portfolio” home with me, showing my friends and family. They were speechless, probably not in a good way.

Anyway, because it is the week of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share my only holiday-inspired strip with everyone, and then share another love-themed strip.

Ahh, what a beautiful mess. Note the “T” in the word “get” in panel one, that looks more like a “Y,” a testament to my late-night lack of diligence and my “fuck it, it’s good enough” demeanor as I sloppily drew these comics. Even more confusing is the fact that the “V” in the title also resembles a Y. Perhaps this was my subconscious prodding me with a question, “why?”

Because my fucking poetry sucked, I didn’t have time to write fiction, and I really wanted to try this “hatching” technique I learned off the back of a box of Crayola Crayons, that’s why.

Note the total lack of context between panels. Presumably, Heart freaks out because he learns of candied hearts. Intestine tells him, “hey don’t worry about it, Heart. This is a normal occurrence on valentine’s day.” Somewhere between panel three and panel six, heart apparently decides he’s going to paint himself, burst forth from the chest of the human he’s embedded in and surprise said human’s girlfriend. Of course this is all, ineffectively, implied. And what about the guy? Is he in on the prank. Did he intend on giving his girlfriend Gina something different that he had hidden under the table? We may never know. Part of the problem is that I decided to create the intestine-lined, nine-panel page before drawing any of the comics. Every damned one of the comics uses the same nine-panel setup.

Here’s another example of the madness:

In this wonderful piece, intestine voices his concern about the mistreatment of the female in panel one. Of course, due to my excellent rendering, no one can really tell what the hell is going on. Is the guy choking the woman, or is he simply feeling her boobs? Either way, she seems quite gleeful when Intestine chops the guy’s head of with a katana blade.

Another point of concern: if Intestine is the one worried the guy is going to kill her, why is there a small line that makes it look like heart is the one saying Intestine’s line? Answer: I didn’t notice this line until I had already colored the comic, and by then was too lazy and broken to bother whiting the line out and recoloring. “Screw it,” I thought. “Everyone will get what I’m going for.”

Five years later even I’m confused.

There’s something to be said for the lettering in these comics as well. Too bad it isn’t something good. Take a look at that carefully crafted “n” in the word “when” in panel two. It just screams “oh shit, I didn’t measure the lettering and might not fit the words on this line. Oh, I guess it does fit. No point in going back to change it now. I’m working on a deadline, because this comic . . . isn’t going to show up anywhere for years.”

After that, this comic gets a little better. I really do like the innocent disposition of Heart and Intestine. In a world filled with violence, these two characters come to believe that we express love through violence. And every damned time I look at the terrible drawings of the cat confusedly uttering “meow?” as the dog chews on its head, or the rabid dog smashed to bits by the car I laugh like hell, at myself.  Would you believe there were about 10 “issues” between the first I show and this one, and at this point I was still struggling to get the points across.

Nevertheless, while Heart and Intestine suffered from countless problems, I really REALLY like the characters. I think the idea of two characters that can manifest in any person’s bodies (even celebrities, which I never bothered to draw because I started writing fiction again) in any given period of time, gives Heart & Intestine an infinite number of scenarios to engage in. They have had their own page on MySpace since I first started drawing the comics. Check it out. Laugh at me. Laugh with them. And expect to see some more of them, with a new artist, unhindered by the nine-panel format, very soon.

In the meantime, because I have so many issues of Heart & Intestine and so many other comics I drew back in 2006-2007, I’m starting a new blog called: I Write Shitty Comics. More information to come.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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