The Last Days: Transitions

I took some serious time with this.  The above work is inked, which I don't do that often.

I took some serious time with this. The above work is inked, which I don’t do that often.

The day this posts is a Pupil Free Day. Teachers come in to close out the school year, with no students around. Gradebooks are turned in, keys are turned in…everything is taken down and taken home, to be stored over the summer. Technology loaned by the district is returned, and logged in. Usually, it isn’t that big a deal…it’s the end of the school year, and has a sort of celebration style atmosphere. There’s a lot of “job well done” sentiment, and general happiness.

Not so much this year. First off, there aren’t many among us who would confuse the past year with a “job well done.”

The sense of closure is really more one of finality. I’ve been packing my things, trying to keep to myself. I don’t feel too good about it, the way things have come down in the past two weeks has been pretty upsetting. I don’t really get to comment on it though, I pretty much have to keep to myself. Try to be a rock, and island, to stow whatever I might be feeling inside. It’s pretty crummy, and I dislike it immensely. However, any time I deviate from being a rock, being an island, it gets thrown up in my face, so I really don’t have too many options.

Packing up your classroom is pretty much a humbling experience. Almost seventeen years of a career fits into a startlingly small number of boxes. Along the way, when you pack like you Mean It, you find all sorts of things. Today, I found a letter from a former VP at the school, who actually had a fatal heart attack there. It was a social letter, about chess…a veritable time capsule from another era. That guy was responsible for the meeting that made the first Adequacy art, and it was odd to get a note from him, from Beyond the Grave, in the Last Days. I wonder what he would think of the situation now? He was always outspoken, but also positive of mind. It would be interesting to know.

I also found the Orientation Binder from the first two weeks of Fancy Training by Pledge LA, after the school was restructured. From the time where I didn’t know anyone except my co-teacher, and there was a real attempt to “Build a Team.” I spoke with my neighbor teacher about that time today. He said, “Yeah…it felt like they were putting together a dream team, and we would work together forever. Now, that’s gone.” He was wistful as he said it, and more than a bit depressed himself. That binder had my doodles from before Adequacy existed, the sketches done to keep from being a jerk, to occupy a part of my mind. One of them I had completely forgotten, but it was pretty much a rough draft of the character that would become the protagonist of Tales of Adequacy.

I think that when people buy a new car, that car has wrapped up in it their dreams of hope, of future, of success, and most of all, freedom. I felt that way starting off at a restructured school, like there was this wealth of possibility and potential that lay before us, right there for us to explore. To make happen. That team needed a hardcase, a “rubber meets the road” individual, and a good deal of the time I was that. Still, in two out of the four years, I did some of the best work that I have ever done.

Now…at the end of the four years, I need to walk away. As that hardcase, the “Captain of the Ship” in some ways, it is pretty much my feeling of responsibility that the rest of the crew get out before I do. To make sure that the team, such as it is, is secure before I go about my own business. Well, the time for me to see to my own welfare has come about, and with reality, I need to prepare for moving forward…without really looking back.

It doesn’t come up much in Adequacy, but the X-men was a hugely important comic book to me. I think the X-men of the 80’s, by Chris Claremont, has themes that speak directly to the feelings of alienation, of being an outsider, that are constant in the teenage life. As a result, I think that readers sort of…outgrow those themes. I think that readers mature, and characters like Spider-Man, who worry about the rent, seem more real than characters who deal with Issues and Real Problems. The marital problems of the Fantastic Four make more sense than the conflicts that surround the X-Men. Everyone, as they get older, feels less intensity about their Personal Fable, and adjusts to the idea that they really aren’t that much more of an outsider than anyone else.

Still…there are times.

The X-men have a long standing tradition of Rage Quitting the team. I was corrected on Wednesday, in that Sunfire is actually the FIRST X-Man to rage quit. Cyclops, who basically defined the Method of Rage Quitting the X-Men did it second, in X-Men No. 138. I’m referencing that cover, and the line up of the team, in the art leading the post. There are nine total Rage Quitting X-Title covers, most of which reference the original Byrne composition of Cyke saying “@#$% you guys,” for a whole twelve issues. Kind of a short leave of absence, really.

I bring it up because to a large degree, I’m Rage Quitting the Team. I’m not leaving teaching, as suggested in an earlier post. I think it is the environment I’m in that has become poisonous, in more ways than one. I think that leaving teaching is an option, sure…but maybe not an immediate one. I’ve invested a whole lot of my life into it, and am theoretically pretty good at it, if the Fancy Awards are to be believed. The thing is, you can’t Rage Quit and stay where you are, so the choices are pretty clear. In this case, it’s to follow the Noble Tradition that Cyclops started in the X-Men, and put as much stuff into one duffel bag for an emotionally stirring composition.

See how Pony looks small, and also concerned? Yeah. Same here.

However, I’ll be taking the Iron Man helmet off the wall, and throwing the duffel bag over my shoulder for the Long Walk. It would be much more dramatically great if I really did have the kind of Personal Fable that teenagers imagine, where everyone is looking at them and cares what they do. It could also gain gravitas by me not having to return next week with a friend and his truck for the rest of my stuff.

Rarely is the real world like the comics that we love so much.

Below is the “cover treatment” of the artwork. I usually go with the “cover treatment” first…but in this case, the raw inks actually had more visual impact. I’m actually really fond of the piece because it would have been impossible to do when I started this project, and started at the school that I’m leaving. Still, in the art today, I see things that I’d like to work on, to improve. I like to think that this is a microcosm of how everything should be done, in life…continuously attempting to improve.

A Rage Quitting Extravaganza!

A Rage Quitting Extravaganza!

With this post, we head into summer…which after about a week in, will have nothing to do with school. Who knows what content that will create for the comic? I certainly don’t. Given the Process, I rarely know too much in advance what will happen, what will be depicted. We are coming up on issue number 1100 (in eight more posts) and we are so far past the numbering of existing comics that I have no idea what I might do for it. It’s also such a weird number…1500 or 2000 seem like more of a milestone. Probably because they are bigger milestones, you know?

Heck…I don’t even have a plan for the weekend post. Thinking about milestones…that’s a bit much.


One thought on “The Last Days: Transitions

  1. I have several thoughts. First, I like your decision to lead with the art that lacks the cover treatment. The empty space at the top makes the protagonist’s lonely exit a much more dramatic scene. Second, I think the art is great, and I think you should color this one. Third, I think you need a special Tales of Adequacy post where you share the pre-ToA art. I’d certainly like to see it. Finally, I know you’ve been through a lot this school year, but remember that things could always be worse: as Socrates once purportedly said (at least according to a very young Val Kilmer), “I drank what?” Go out, have a beer, and enjoy the summer!

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