The Guest House
Hey, it looks like Jon has started using his real name on his comics (he went by Jon Drawdoer before, or maybe he still does sometimes?). I’d know that for sure if I met him at Cartoon Crossroads Columbus this year, but I’m pretty sure I missed a whole room of artists, and it’s certainly not like I’ve been stewing in a quiet rage about that ever since, heavens no! But as Jon makes clear at the start of this comic, it’s best to let everything in, to sit with the good things and the bad, to let them affect you and change you. So I can’t change missing out on him this year, but next year I can keep a better mental guest list in my head and realize BEFORE I leave the building and the con is over that I missed several people that I wanted to see. And hey look, now we’re finally talking about the comic mostly! Jon starts things off by talking about his personal philosophy, how it has gotten him through some tough times, and even if he didn’t come out of those times as exactly the same person as he was before, he could see the value of the changes and make peace with the losses. I’ve talked about this before in my reviews of his other comics, but this is an excellent way to live, and what I try (although not always successfully) to do myself. Even Jon can’t do it all himself, as he goes to a gay support group to help get himself through some issues. It’s there that he hears the story of Trent, a man who fashioned an entire identity for himself and stuck with it far longer than he ever thought he could. Jon also tells his own story at therapy (about being the third in a married couple for three years, how it ended and what he regrets), with all of this eventually leading to Jon asking Trent out. I’m making this sound like a linear, straight ahead story with some messages, but it’s so much more than that. There’s so much more insight on these pages than I know how to convey in a review, nor do I think it’s really my place to do so. Anybody who has doubts about themselves and how they handle the world could do a whole lot worse than to read one of Jon’s comics on the subject. I’m not going to say that Jon has figured everything out, but he’s a lot closer to doing so than most, and I’ve gotten something meaningful out of each of his comics that I’ve read so far. $8
Is the world too much with you? Do you know that you need to step back and appreciate your life but lack the means to do so? Well, short of ordering every self-help book on the market and hoping for the best, this comic is not a bad place to start. Not that I’m saying that Jon has solved all of the mysteries of the universe and/or the best way to quit craving nicotine, but what he’s doing sure seems to be working for him. To sum up briefly and not at all exactly, Jon has been trying to live the current moment to its fullest at every available opportunity, and this comic is a selection of stories about that process. This time around he was nice enough to put a little symbol (indicated in the intro) at the bottom right corner of the pages once a story is over and, since he is living so much in the moment, it was crucial to understanding exactly when one revelation ended and another was beginning. Stories in here include the simplest way to bring yourself back to your self (and probably the hardest for some people), the insights he gets into himself and others when he’s out running and happens across people who are faster than him, his journey through the “hole” in his sternum and his conversation with his dead father in that hole, and his dedication to always going with the healthy option when possible and his master plan to cut all cravings of nicotine from his life. I can be dismissive of plenty of elements of self-discovery and spirituality, but the methods that Jon is using are what I consider to be doing it right. Make of that what you will, but simple is always better than spending piles of cash that you don’t have on charlatans that are after your money more than your well-being. Give this comic a shot and see for yourself, but it could end up doing you some real good. $5
I’m going to break the rules and cut and paste a definition here to start the review, as I looked this up myself after reading this comic just to be sure that I had it right:
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
For those of you who are annoyed and confused by my educating you, don’t worry, it is all relevant to the comic. But it sounds like a great way to live, right? Anyway, there are three main parts to this comic, that I will address is a random order because I feel like it. First up is an hour of Jon’s life and all the thoughts that pass through his head, as he documents everything on a notepad while he’s thinking about/it’s happening. It was more fascinating than I would have guessed, and now I think that everybody should give it a shot. Of course, it would require an attention span, and the number of people I know who still have one is dwindling, but I still think people should give it a try and write about their experiences. Next up is a science fiction story dealing with a breathing ship, the wonderful visual effects of having your thoughts outside of your own head and the random, revealing things that are in there, and finally learning not to guess what a loved one is thinking but instead to just ask them about it. Finally there’s a piece at the end about thoughts, putting everything in boxes (and whether or not that’s isolating), your thoughts bringing you to a moment but then not leaving you alone when you reach that moment, and the letdown involved in everything going according to plan. It’s a damned thoughtful pile of stories, and my brain is currently split into thirds as I digest the various portions of this comic. Check it out if you’re a fan of thinking! $5