Last Week

Been a while since I drew these guys.

Last week.

My god.

Last week was one of the longest, most excruciating weeks I have had the displeasure of experiencing period.

Like, all of the anxiety I’ve had during 2020 was jammed into the span of a week and heightened to levels that I haven’t felt in years.

All due to a very particular event that pretty much captured everyone’s attention and likewise had them refreshing endlessly whilst fueling their own worried states – Election 2020.

Jesus, give me strength.

Sunday and Monday were fine.  Normal even.

Then Tuesday rolled along.

I remember the last Presidential election and what it did to me.  How when states started falling to What’s His Face, I immediately had a massive panic/anxiety attack and fell apart.  So, I thought I’d be wise and turn my phone off all day, making sure to hide it away in my brother’s room just to be safe.

Didn’t stop me from worrying, but I thought’d that would be fine.  I’d manage.  Sure, there was anxiety building up, but then I’d go to bed and wake up to some sort of result.

Wednesday – of course, no result.  Because nothing can be easy in 2020.

After having some bizarre Election dreams and not sleeping well at all, I wake up to a big old mess.  Nothing’s been called.  Votes are still being counted.  Joe Biden’s behind in several very important states.  Another four years of What’s His Face.

Anxiety and stress levels immediately skyrocket.  What fun.

Several things happen when I get stressed.  One is that my sleep patterns go straight out the window.  Two is that I can’t eat.  I am not a stress eater.  At all.  My stomach just won’t let anything in.  Of course, if I don’t eat, my stomach immediately goes, “Why haven’t you eaten anything?!  Eat something now!”  But then if I do get something down, it’s all “Why did you do that?!”

So I’m exhausted, not eating, and chain-worrying.  I’m stuck in some weird suspended animation, just constantly refreshing, refreshing, REFRESHING.  Not doing anything else – I don’t have enough bandwidth to do so.  My attention span shrinks, only able to take in a few minutes at a time.

And I thought I was okay.

I honestly did.  I thought I was managing things just fine.  This was okay.  Totally, totally okay.

Thursday – I am not okay.

I am so far from okay it’s not even funny.  Exhaustion is catching up to me big time.  I’m probably dehydrated at this point as well.  Still can’t do anything else except hit that damn refresh button.

I should also mention that I was home this entire time.  Didn’t have to go to work Tuesday through Thursday, which really would’ve been a big help in keeping me distracted.  It seemed great weeks ago – until I got stuck in Election Purgatory.

And – a very BIG and – we had people working on the house, replacing the siding.  Which turned out to be a noisy process.  A very early, noisy process.  So sleep ended early.  And my psyche slowly cracked further under the constant hammering coming from every which way.

I do manage to make my way to my friend Suzy’s house, which ends up being a much needed respite from the noise/anxiety/screens/refreshing/everything.  Honestly, I’m amazed that I make it there, considering how tired I am.  But we talk.  We sat in her basement room, and just hash it out.  The first time that week that I say out loud to someone other than myself that I am not okay.  That I am stuck deep in some anxiety hole.

That evening, I end up getting so overwhelmed that I break down into my Chinese food.  I’m tired.  I’m hurting.  Why can’t I break out of this cycle?  Why am I here in this pit?  Why can’t they just call the stupid race already my GOD.

Friday.  The workers are gone.  The house looks nice and fresh.  I get to wake up naturally.  I get to go to work.  I’m still a mess, but at least I’m functioning kind of.  And things are starting to look up Electionwise.

Which is where more what ifs show up.  What if there is 4 more years of What’s His Face?  What if Pennsylvania doesn’t flip?  What if, what if, what if.

And yet, for the first time in days, I’m hopeful.  It’s just a spark, but it’s something.

Still can’t eat properly, by the by.  And starting to feel a depressive front moving in.  Just what I need at this time.

Then, Saturday.

Glorious, glorious Saturday.

They start calling the Election.  Biden’s in the lead – and he’s won.

I’ll get further into the story Wednesday but holy crap.  Like, holiest of craps.  What is happening.

What am I feeling?  Relief.  Disbelief.  Shock.  This isn’t real.  But it is real.

And the anxiety fog starts to lift a bit.

I’m actually able to eat a full plate of dinner.  I manage to sleep through the night.  And Sunday, I can take a nap without struggle.  It’s amazing.

So, here we are in this week.  I’m still feeling the after effects, honestly.  And I still need to be careful of what I’m checking on my phone because anxiety is a beast and I don’t want to set it off again.

But I’m so much better.  Each day I feel more and more alive again.  I’m drawing.  I’ve started a new book.  I’m turned on my Switch.  All the coping mechanisms I should’ve been using all of last week, according to my therapist.

I’m glad to be out of suspended animation.  I’m glad to be moving around and feeling human again.

And I’m feeling very, very good about the next four years.  But again, that’s for Wednesday.

Right now, I’m doing stuff.

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Intro: Dot

Quincy gets it.

I swear I will get back to that storyline I PROMISE.

Anyways, our next character up is that shadowy ball of cynicism, Dot!  And yes, it is short for Dorothea.  Lars helped her come up with it.

It’s been great bringing Dot back.  Like an old friend – even older than Lars.  And the two really do belong together, just like Lars and Eliza.  Even if Eliza is downright terrified of her.  But hopefully those two will become friends (eventually – it’ll happen).  Dot wants it to happen, especially because Lars is one of her dearest friends and Eliza is now part of that package.  Plus, I’d like to think that she finds Eliza amusing in a weird way.

I don’t think Dot scares people on purpose.  She’s just kind of being her shadowy, creepy self.  And she does care about others – maybe not as obvious as Quincy, but she does care.

That isn’t to say that she wouldn’t be opposed to scaring people who she thinks deserves it.  Then it’s karma/fun.

Fun fact: Dot is surprisingly one of the harder characters to draw.  That may be because she takes the longest, being a mostly black character that has a lot of little details and takes up a lot of ink.  I think everytime I draw her my 05 and 08 pens start crying.

Drawing Old Dot was…something.  The eyes – how did anyone know where she was actually looking?  She needed an upgrade.  Clearly.  She was basically a black blob with eyes.

Of course, she still is a black blob with eyes, but now she has eyebrows and weird wispy things!  I have no idea what they are.  They’re just there.

Next up: Quincy!

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Intro: Cleo

Hang in there, Dot. Only a few dozen more.

Here she is – the most magical of my characters, Cleo Culpepper!

Out of the four Halloween storylines that I’ve done, the 2016 Revenge of the Stuffed Animals was probably my favorite.  I thought the writing and the pacing were the strongest, it didn’t take me forever and a day to finish it, I wasn’t trying too hard, and it allowed me to introduce Cleo as a character.

I think I wanted to introduce both a coworker character as well as a witch character.  So Cleo was able to tick both of those boxes.  For a while there, though, I wasn’t drawing her as much as I would’ve liked to.  Not sure why.  I do enjoy drawing her.  May have accidentally pushed her into the background.  Trying to rectify that.

Also, one of my favorite parts of drawing Cleo is coming up with her massive stuffed animal collection.  Due to her witchy nature, I’d like to think that all of her stuffed animals would be kind creepy/cute, and it’s fun to come up with new ones, like a two-headed cat or a little Sasquatch guy.  I like to think that each character has a bit of me in them, and with Cleo, it’s definitely the love of stuffed animals. I have way too many myself (and will probably buy more because I’m an adult with a regular paycheck and this is what I choose to spend it on).  There is also the fondness for avoiding people.  Trying to work on that.

Next up: Dot!

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Intro: Jeff the Reindeer

Other holidays be damned.

Here he is – the reindeer with the most Christmas spirit, Jeff the Reindeer!

I feel bad for Jeff sometimes.  I don’t draw him as often as everyone else and he kind of just…fades into the background.  Until it’s Christmastime and I remember that he exists.

I think the main reason I decided to keep drawing him was that I enjoyed the ridiculousness of his name.  A reindeer named Jeff.  Not Jeffrey.  Just Jeff.  More importantly, Jeff the Reindeer.  Seems incomplete without the last bit.

I’d probably describe Jeff as calm with a hint of desperation and a intensity for Christmas that is unrivaled by anyone.  Yeah, that sums him up.

Also, the first time I’ve drawn his stable (which I am pretty damn proud of – look at that building!  It looks like a building!).  He lives out in the backyard for two main reasons: he’s kind of hard to keep inside and he’d probably start decorating for Christmas in August.  So for everyone’s sanity, he stays out back.  Suits his needs, though.  Not sure how much shenanigans he would tolerate (see: when Arugthor landed in the backyard).

Next up: Cleo!

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Intro: Lars

Lars lives for the morning. Willa just wants breakfast.

First up in character introductions: the walrus in I Draw Walruses, Lars!

He really did come about during an art class project.  We had to make papier-mache masks of any character we wanted.  I decided to take inspiration from Shel Silverstein and create a walrus with braces.  From here, Lars was born.

I would often pair him with Dot whenever I drew him all through middle school and high school.  They just seemed to be a good match, riffing off of each other with their different personalities.

During college, Lars sort of disappeared for a bit.  Even then, though, I would try to squeeze walruses into at least one art project per course (minus my life drawing class – I don’t think I would risk it given the terror that particular professor struck in me).  I even wrote a story featuring talking walruses for one of my writing courses once I fled the art department.

Walruses have been my trademark for quite some time, as you can see.  When I started up this blog, clearly, walruses needed to be involved.  And Lars came bouncing back into my life.

It’s hard to believe it was just me, him, and Willa for the longest time.  And now it’s become all this.  Lars was truly the beginning of it all for me – getting back into drawing and creating.  I’m fairly certain if I ever get something done in the picture book arena, Lars would be front and center.

Next up: Willa!

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An Intro to Intros

Thank you DOT.

So.

In an attempt to reach a larger audience, I have started posting some of my comics over on my Instagram (@i_draw_walruses).  And I’ve been a grand old time – the algorithm is a beast, but I’m working on it.

However, in my excitement to do so, I have not really provided much background/context on these characters that I have developed over the past 5 years or so to this new audience.  So it’s been hard for them to jump on board or even really understand what goes on in the I Draw Walruses universe (it really is its own bizarre, strange universe at this point).

So I have deemed September Character Month – I’ll be doing a whole series reintroducing my characters, providing some much needed background, starting with what I consider to be the Main 7 at this point (Lars, Willa, Eliza, Jeff the Reindeer, Cleo, Dot, and Quincy).  The rest will fall in line.

Hopefully this will be helpful.  If it isn’t, well, then, I at least explored my characters a bit more and fleshed them out of bit.

I have a lot of them, I’ve discovered.  Like, more than I realized.  But it’ll be fun.

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Cars

I art so well.

Really, I try to avoid to draw anything with wheels.

Had a brief moment of panic this past week when my car decided to not start one morning.  Instantly thought this was gonna be Old Car all over again, with the added twist of “BUT I’M STILL TRYING TO PAY THIS CAR OFF HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO ME RAAAAGGGHHHH.”

Turned out, my car just needed to have a new battery.  It’s nice to have a car where someone mechanically inclined can actually pinpoint what’s wrong instead of being stumped.  Truly glorious.

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