Monday Morning: The Protagonist Alone!

A vigil in a wilderness of Haters.

A vigil in a wilderness of Haters.

On Monday (today, people…this particular Monday) there are a vast number of teachers absent. In a Title I, inner city school like mine, the presence of that many substitute teachers basically declares the area a Mo Man’s Land, where anything goes. Students, even the good ones, decide that there are few if any limits, and things go on that when I tell them to civilians…they don;t even believe. They think that I am a very creative person, or exaggerating, or simply making things up.

My co-teacher is absent, for a personal necessity. That’s the best player in place in my building…so that’s a big problem. My neighbor teacher is frequently absent…and his classes are loaded with the “challenging” students. One of his team will be at a job interview, there is a long term sub on his team as well. Both my math teachers are absent…one at a funeral, the other in the process of leaving the school, if not the profession. That’s a confirmed one third of the teachers absent, possibly up to one half. I simply haven’t checked.

In addition, they are all the authoritarian “Big Kid” teachers. I’m the last heavy handed disciplinarian, left behind to hold the line.

I won’t lie…I considered taking the day off myself. I got a few text messages from teachers over the weekend, advising it. Advising it strongly. The fact is though…I have to finish the SBAC preparation with my students, in order for them to have any hope of doing well on the standardized test that they will be taking for the rest of the week. As a result…I’m holding the line, attempting to give that important instruction amidst the chaos.

I wasn’t sure what to draw for today, as a result. I had all kinds of ideas, hazily in the back of my head, about post apocalyptic landscapes, or the Negative Zone, or what have you. While searching comic book based end of the world scenarios, i kept bumping up against “Marvel Zombies.” That’s an “end of the world” alternate Marvel Universe that, predictably, gets infected by Zombie Virus. Predictably, it was very popular.

Age of Ultron, the comic, not the Movie…is a time travel story where the world is over run by Ultron robots. That will be later this week, when technical issues related to online testing overwhelm all instructional time. Still…that was also an end of the world plotline at Marvel.

Apparently, the success of both has prompted Marvel to combine the alternate realities into one section of their “Battleworld” event this summer. So dangerous, filled with both zombies and murderous robots, it is walled off from the rest of Battleworld, and the superheroes adjacent to it are vigilant about maintaining the wall.

That idea…if a wall, to keep the Haters IN, fascinated me. It seemed to be exactly what I wanted to draw about. Hence, the art above.

Ultron’s head is there to represent the ever present technological spectre of haterism. My students will need to test with tech, in the classroom…but also use that same tech to set up their fights, tagging, and other issues. The Zombie Haters are there to be just what they are…Zombified Haters. Just creatures that run around doing damage for its own sake, with no thought about how that even affects their own environment, in the long run. A good enough analogy.

The protagonist is loaded up for bear. I decided I wanted to draw her old coat, or maybe it’s the coat from the beginning of the school year. It’s in black and white, so I can’t even be sure…my opinion wavered as I drew it. Pony Stark is with her, looking uneasy…I would too, those are some pretty @#$%ed up looking Haters. I went with Pony Stark because all weekend long I was hauling around Glitter Pony Stark, complete with Arc Reactor. She has to have some kind of Pony. Eagle eyed fans will see Quislet hovering behind her, as often happens.

I was looking for a feel of the moment BEFORE entering the Mad Max like atmosphere of constant conflict. I wanted to capture that moment of unrest, of unease, of the need for some kind of big #$% gun like the one in her left hand. I also wanted to capture the threat…the scope of the monstrosity, the chaos.

I’m hoping I did. I’m writing all of this in the same moment…in that time before crossing the Wall, and entering the Battleworld zone of Zombies and Robots fighting each other…at least that’s the metaphor. The day is going to unfold before me, and hopefully with a minimum of craziness. That’s the hope, but hope has the unfortunate limitation of often falling short of reality.

Strangely, the things that I am talking about, the chaos…the things that AREN’T teaching…those are precisely the things that have two of my other teachers in grade seven interviewing elsewhere, and another in the process of leaving the profession. They love teaching, but are fed up with the bizarre, abstract Road Warrior setting that they are asked to do it in.

Hang on, True Believers…the next post will surely have some reference to today’s events.


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