On the Drawing Board: Visual Communication and Beyond
Nursing room sign, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Yeah, yeah, nobody reads site blogs anymore, but I have a lot to talk about—more than can fit in a tweet—and this seemed as good a place as any to put it all into words…
I’m still working feverishly on my massive book about visual communication. The second draft of my (neurotically-tight) layouts ran 571 pages, and I’m determined, as I plow through my third—and hopefully final—draft, to make it substantially shorter and less rambling. Wish me luck!
The book has taken me years so far, but I sincerely believe it’ll be worth it. It’s a preposterously ambitious full color project covering the evolution and biology of vision; principles of visual perception; demonstrations of how visual elements behave in the mind’s eye; best practices for clarity, explanation, and effective rhetoric; and some personal reflections on our family’s experiences with blindness.
Oh, and I’m also working on a big secret project we hope to announce in the coming months!
I still haven’t gotten Covid as of this writing—fingers crossed!—but the pandemic at large did keep us home for big stretches of 2020-2022. Nevertheless, I’ve continued to do my lectures and workshops, albeit virtually in some cases. Swing by the presentations page for more info.
New for this month: We’re happy to announce a gorgeous new edition of my 2015 graphic novel The Sculptor (speaking of five hundred page books that took years).
As of this writing, there’s still a chance that it will be a movie, by the way. We’ll see! Not counting any eggs before they’re hatched, but you never know…
We passed some milestones in the last couple of years. I’m now officially OLD, having received the Eisner Awards’ Hall of Fame award last year. The globe design was based on a page from my 1993 book Understanding Comics so it was kinda nice to finally get my hands on one.
But we also passed a kind of milestone no one can ever be prepared for…
On April 28 of this year, Ivy died in a car accident on her way to bring our youngest, Winter, home from the University of Michigan where she had just gotten her masters degree. Ivy was 61 years old. We had been married for 34 years.
I’ve written about Ivy’s death only sparsely so far, because such a bottomless loss can’t be summed up in words, but I’ll do my best to at least relay the essentials here.
I met Ivy during my first weeks of college in 1978. I fell in love with her the following year, but I carried that love for the next seven years secretly as she had been otherwise engaged in one way or another throughout that time.
But when the stars finally aligned in my favor, I seized my chance, and on December 23, 1986, I told Ivy that I loved her, and one year, one month, and one day later, we were married.
Ivy was funny, kind, creative, endlessly talkative, sexy, and smarter than me in oh so many ways—but she was also prey to fits of depression. The highs and the lows of living with her were exhilarating and exhausting.
She was my “muse” in the old, romantic sense; a force of life and love, an inspiration. She inspired characters in my work (especially and explicitly Meg in The Sculptor), and she was also a muse for the hundreds of young actors she taught and directed over the years in local children’s theatre productions.
Ivy and I battled infertility for four years before having our first child, Sky; a pregnacy that began with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ended with a cesarean. But when Sky’s little sister, Winter, was conceived the old-fashioned way two years later, Ivy battled just as hard to have as little intervention as possible and succeeded there too.
Ivy was the most dedicated and loving mother I’ve ever known. Our life together as a family was filled with laughter, rapid-fire conversations, arguments, creativity, and so, so many long road trips, including a year-long 50 state tour from 2006 to 2007. And dogs. Always dogs. And moving, we were always moving from place to place; always renting, never owning… Always waiting on the next check.
Ivy was my best friend. We never ran out of things to talk about. We never ran out of ways to say “I love you.”
I told our grief counselor how my time with Ivy always felt like I was getting away with something; how life with her always felt new; how I always got the same rush of endorphins or whatever that lovers get when they’re young; a feeling that’s supposed to wear off in time; how it always felt as if we had just eloped, as if we had just met.
And the counselor laughed and told me we were “freaks”; that what we had was not remotely normal. And I believe it.
I loved her then, I love her now, I will love her for the rest of my life.
And I will never stop giving thanks for the time we had.