Winging It -Books One and Two

I wrote and drew and published these books between about 1984 to 1999--while working on other projects, as well as working for a living, but the storyline and themes and characters are ones that have shown up in my other creative work for decades, and continue to do so... the Mother Mountain epic has taken off from one of the side-stories in here, and some of the characters showed up as the product of someone else’s tortured imagination in my Artistic Licentiousness series (currently unavailable). Some people have deeply enjoyed it (and I love it when readers REALLY seem to “read” something of mine) but others seem to dismiss it as either New Age fluff (which it is not) or as Christian (because Jesus plays a bit part) or as “Funny Animal” (because of many non-human characters).  People will think what they think and see what they see and this work does not seem to be everyone’s cup of chowder, as much as I love it myself.

The “reality” in the books is more of a spiritual reality than the physical world we think of as such, though both come into conflict quite violently sometimes in these pages. There is a lot of humor, but also some very unpleasant stuff, lots of characters who are scantily-clad (if at all), which I guess some people still aren’t used to seeing in comics, especially one dealing with spiritual matters and religion and such. There are attempts by these (sometimes deeply flawed) characters to bridge the gap between the worlds involved by getting intimate with one another, not always a good idea in this story. One thing that I thought was really wonderful (unfortunately, many others do not) is that, with this dialogue-and-pictures-and-no-caption format, one can’t really tell if a character is either male or female, and it just so happens, this story involves MANY characters whose gender is not so obvious (or not there in the first place) and the reasons will make themselves clear in the story.  I don’t know of anyone who has used the words-and-pictures medium in this way.

Many years ago, I brashly handed a copy of the first book to French comics creator (to put it mildly!) Moebius and made my escape, and later on he tracked me down and told me he really enjoyed it and thought it was full of ‘wisdom.’ That SO made my year! Every time I have read it I see more in it, and it amazes me anew, and all that good creative/creator stuff, but I do wish I had the time to draw some of it over. Oh, well, I can say there is nothing else like this in the world, and it is something I wanted to read and nobody was doing anything remotely like it. Story of my creative life!

But best of all, I managed to write and draw these hundreds of pages and put them into print and there are still copies of both available--if you are one of the people I seem to have created this “for.”

Some of the Winging It story

One of these days I would love to put together some annotated pages showing all the little details and commentary and such for those who have enjoyed this book-- and those others who’d like to get more out of it. (Carla Speed McNeil does this all the time in her Finder series and I love all the details!) In Winging It Book Two, there is a very detailed synopsis of the story presented in the first book. I have many more copies of #2 than of #1 and the day will soon arrive when there are no more of #1. In the meantime, here is an idea of what is inside of Winging It.

The story begins with the human protagonist, Lupe Contreras, committing suicide. Far from “ending it all,” she will come to find that her action has, instead, set off a chain of events on a truly massive scale. In her glimpse of the afterlife she encounters what she expects, but misses the realization that her belief system is not the only game in town. Finding herself “back” once more, she meets a very mysterious angel (Arichel) while alone in the desert--far from being a spiritual guide, s(he) seems just as lost as Lupe. If this isn’t enough, the next day Lupe and Arichel confront beings from yet another world, masters and slaves, and one of the latter (Shandan) insists he has been sent to these two for guidance to free his people from slavery, a responsibility neither Lupe nor her angel companion wish to take on. Arichel has enough of a challenge just dealing with the limitations and handicaps of suddenly becoming an incarnate being, at least the form it takes for us humans. However, these three from separate worlds do come together briefly and eventually go their own ways, Shandan with inspiration from an unlikely source (as far as Lupe is concerned)--Arichel feeling a painful responsibility for Lupe but proving to be a poor excuse for a spiritual guide for the troubled woman--not to mention becoming ever more disillusioned with the human race and trying to fit in as “one of us.” One reader was very surprised at this, expecting that, since they all met up, they would become a “team” (this being a comic book and all) but this is a story that doesn’t really take place all in the same space, in more ways than one.

In the meantime, Shandan has returned to his people with words of liberation from tyranny to inspire the masses and, though things do not go as he wishes, those who survive do find themselves free of their oppressors. And then, as is so often the case, things do not go well at all for them, particularly for Shandan, though as is also so often the case, enlightenment comes from unexpected sources. These are the not-quite-human people whose history unfolds in Mother Mountain (as a storyline that takes place generations before Winging It). Not only have they been reduced to slavery, by a ‘superior’ race that looks upon them with contempt,  their lives are now barely above that of domesticated animals and they attempt to overcome this. In Part Two they discover things were worse than they thought.

Arichel, still struggling with the pains and pleasures of incarnation, brings something truly ugly into our world, suffers the consequences and tries to escape once and for all. Nobody ever gets away from anything that easily in this story. In this case, Arichel, attempting suicide, now finds a home in the world of the sea, and here begins to appreciate more of the simple pleasures and joys of the material world, far from the human race as possible, in the company of simple-minded cetaceans, dolphins and whales. However, it is soon clear that some these creatures have lost their innocence (in the spiritual sense) through an encounter with the slaveholders-from-another-world, and through unfortunate interactions with humans. This takes a very disturbing turn of events as one of the cute dolphins totally goes “rogue” in the very bad sense of the phrase. Worse, Arichel realizes it is time once again to confront the human race. The creatures Arichel has brought into the world take on a life of their own, with tragic results.

Lupe, who has learned more from Arichel than she originally thought, gamely tries to put her life back together, believing she has been given a second chance by something greater than herself, but she is unable to tell where faith leaves off and the delusions begin. This brings us to the end of Book One--in the second book the storyline is resolved, people find what they think they have been looking for, but not all of the three main characters survives--at least in the material plane we all know and love.

Also in Book Two is a short story without words about the least-understood players in this drama and twenty-some pages of the original version of Mother Mountain as a graphic novel, where I was still not entirely certain how to design the characters. And much commentary: the original ideas I had for the storyline, how they changed, what I decided to leave out and why, and so forth.

As a spiritual guide, Arichel strikes out!

Lupe meets Arichel; Arichel meets the material plane of existence.

Don’tcha just hate it when people suck you dry... in a metaphysical sense, that is?

Arichel swims with the dolphins....

...only, some of the dolphins aren’t very nice!


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