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Seriously, Sign up for TSA Pre-Check

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 15, 2017

Let’s not kid ourselves (or, given how obvious it has always been, I should stop implying otherwise)—Ted Forth is for the most part just a whiter version of me (even in winter, when my skin turns from brown to olive to a lighter shade of Gamora). Sure, we don’t have the same number of siblings (I have one, who moonlights as Alice’s youngest), we don’t live in the same proximity to our parents (I’m just an hour away by LIRR and happened to be at my folks’ house when the rehab center called about my dad), and we don’t dress at all the same (about 98% of my wardrobe consists of hoodies and graphic tees…oh, and pants, in case that needed to be said).

But these are all superficial differences. And sure, the similarities can also be described as equally superficial (love of Star Wars, Micronauts, kaiju, 70s Saturday cartoons, holiday TV specials, and, well, that list can go on and on). But both of our thought processes are sifted through pop culture or at least some sort of media. After all, I’m working through the pain of losing my father by way of a comic strip (hijacking newsprint space and reader’s time and/or patience in the process), which is certainly self-indulgent but absolutely necessary for my grieving process. And in the coming days Ted will take a similar approach to address his own loss. So there is no denying Ted is essentially me. And the fact that Ted is, well, not exactly a strong role model (or to some even an adult) is a deliberate decision (or an unconscious and inescapable one given my own level of “maturity” that I will pitch as “deliberate”). I don’t like perfect characters. And I (this is where I will try to be delicate but no doubt fail spectacularly) do not care for avatars that are essentially the writer wanting all the hurrahs, all the achievements, and all the allowances that in real life would have caused someone to bitch-slap them a long time ago.

But let’s conclude on a far more important note—I greatly appreciate all those who have bravely shared their own stories and pain with losing a loved one, both here and on Facebook. We all need a community, we all need to know we’re not alone, and we need to know that someone is listening. You have been exceeding generous to hear me, in these posts and in the comics, and I will always listen to you.

Oh, and really, if you travel more than once a year sign up for TSA Pre-Check. You go through the line so quickly you realize you didn’t have time to shove your phone, keys, and for no reason the $4.27 you have entirely in pennies into your carry-on before hitting the airport scanner.

PS: For those wondering, yes, the Forths are allowing Hilary to skip school for a little while (it will feel like several days but will be a week in “real comic time”). But when she comes back to class her fellow students will have moved on to multivariable calculus and partial derivatives, causing Hilary to have to repeat the seventh grade for what will feel like the eighth year in a row (really, it took forever to even get out of elementary school).


Just Keep Moving, Just Keep Moving…

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 14, 2017

So, when I mentioned earlier that despite the current narrative Sally Forth would still be a humor comic, I should have added that would take a few days to happen.

That’s because what I remember most right after we found about my dad was movement. Everyone immediately got up, everyone knew instinctively what needed to be done, and everyone called everyone else. It is all blur, a series of fragmented thoughts and dialogue, and that is what I hoped to capture in the above strips. This is why we do not see Ted sit the family down and tell them what happened. Doing so would have only slowed things to a crawl the very moment when they ramp up tenfold. Plus, given the length of Ted’s dad’s illness (as well as my own dad’s), the moment he would have said, “Terry called” (just like when I said “The hospital called”) everyone would know. And so the exposition came as it did for me and others in my family—through calls, through quick planning, and through action after action after pause for breakdown after action.

As I said in the previous post, I in no way perceive my experience as a universal one, or my reaction to it as something everyone should relate to or understand. When the news broke I did as Ted did—I went into automaton mode and quickly and constantly did everything I thought needed to be done, fearing if I stopped for a moment I would just collapse and be of no use to anyone. Others may react differently under such circumstances, and each reaction is right and proper to them.

On a lighter side note, when I finished writing the Forth’s summer trip to Tanaka Kaiju World (remember when this comic at least tried to be funny and joyful?) I realized that the family seemingly made no plans about who would look after their pet, Kitty. Naturally, it would be assumed someone was feeding the cat and trying to see if she was hiding under the sofa or bed, but it still felt odd. This may be because a little over ten years ago I wrote a story arc in which Kitty went missing. She was gone only for a few hours, but since it took three weeks of comics to get that narrative across some readers thought 1) the cat had been missing for almost a month and 2) apparently the Forths change their clothes only at the start of the next lunar cycle. The result was copious hate mail, an invitation to be cursed out on a pet radio show (which is exactly how the show’s producer pitched it), and a rather vituperative message from a bat conservatory. So we have Sally asking Jackie and Ralph to look after the cat, not only to remove any lingering doubts about the well-being of Kitty but also to show how information about a tragedy is conveyed in its first few minutes.

And I promise, at least tomorrow’s strip will have some humor in it. Or at least showcase just how well Jim Keefe draws unending TSA lines at the airport.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 13, 2017

When Life Goes Sideways

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 12, 2017

And so here we are. Regular readers who look at today’s strip and have seen this a long time coming—especially after it was perhaps inelegantly foreshadowed—may be thinking, “So are we looking at weeks of no humor and all heartstrings?” Non-readers who come across today’s comic may be thinking, “Hey, it’s that unfunny Sally Forth strip being unfunny again.” And both perspectives lead to the same question, “How much of a downer is this going to be?”

We’ll get to that. But a first a note about the above strip.

Today’s phone call occurs in the middle of a completely unrelated story arc (“Ted vs. Leaves: Episode XXXIV”) because such calls always come out of nowhere, even when you’ve spent months steeling yourself for that eventual ring. Mine happened at 4:30 in the morning, proving that dramatic movie cliches originate from somewhere. But it is still a narrative cliche. And having a character wake up in bed to a call doesn’t capture the true tonal shift that happens in real life, no matter what the time. And whenever my thumb is wet I can’t access my phone’s ID button. Add all that up and we find Ted, in the middle of the day, in the bathroom, both surprised and knowing exactly what is happening.

Why the wet thumb joke? Because for better or worse this is going to hew very close to my own experiences, with my dad, last year at this time. (Well, not too close, given that Italians can be quite loud and argumentative.) Now, I know that when a writer says they are going to be “real” they may mistake that with “grim” or “humorless” or “everyone is now an alcoholic.” So for those who will be more than kind to read our strip for the next few weeks and either fear or understandably feel they know every narrative beat coming, it is only fair I tell you a little of what to expect.

First, what you won’t see: A miracle recovery, a mention of angels, someone saying “He looks so peaceful,” a deathbed sudden and total reconciliation, the steadfast belief my own experience is universal or even understandable to all, and the feeling that one can every properly and completely say goodbye to another, especially a dying parent.

Second, what you will see: Hours defined by the exact same hallway and vending machine, realizing no matter how much you say you will always feel it is too little too late, the fucking surrealism of purchasing a casket for your parent, knowing the use of Google is at times both absolutely necessary and inappropriate, the use of pop culture to both express and encapsulate emotion (and finally the reason why pop culture became so important to Ted throughout his life), and disco. Lots and lots of disco, to the point the reader will actually be asked to play a particular song.

And yes, humor. Dark times not only necessitate humor but at times engender it (without the humor itself being dark.) This is a humor comic strip by design and definition. And so most strips during this story will have humor, not out of nowhere or the feeling there must be a punchline but from the very character and situation (resulting in one particular line that I believe is funny and know is true but may bother people by its directness).

I will be posting about Sally Forth throughout this story line. I won’t over explain anything or ever say, “This works because it happened to me so just accept it” because what strikes true to one will not strike such to another. Instead I’ll post a few asides, a few happy memories, and link to a particular Taxi scene that if you know Ted and you know what he will say you already know what to expect.

To anyone who wishes to opt out of reading Sally Forth for the next few weeks because they don’t wish to be sad, because it is too familiar and/or fresh and so is painful, or wants their humor strips to focus first and foremost on the humor, I understand completely. To those who stick through it all, I appreciate it immensely. This may not be an easy comic to read for a few weeks. This wasn’t an easy comic to write (my blowing our deadlines in the process). But if you have connected with the characters to some degree before, if you can relate to what is happening now, and you like Donna Summer even a little, you may very well make it through after all.

Oh, and there will still be a Halloween trick-or-treat Sunday comic, just with an understudy playing the role of Ted.

Thank you for hearing me out.


The Cat Poets of “I Could Pee on This” on Not Being Awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant. Again.

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 11, 2017

Medium Large: Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 10, 2017

Medium Large Comic: Monday, October 9, 2017

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 9, 2017

Sally Forth Sunday: So It’s Not about Pumpkin Spice?

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 8, 2017

Shut Out Yet Again…

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 5, 2017

And of course a huge congratulations to Kazoo Ishiguro!

Happy Halloween Month from Sally Forth!

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on October 1, 2017

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