On my way to work this morning I passed a breast cancer walk-a-thon. It was an enormous crowd of people, mostly women, forming a long, thick trail that snaked its way around the park on 148th down the street from Microsoft. It’s a sunny day today, just warm enough for shorts without being too hot to be outside. As everyone knows, pink is the color associated with breast cancer charities and it gave the procession a dominant color scheme. Some of the women sported sparkling pink deely-boppers. I hadn’t heard there was going to be a walk, I might not have even seen it at all if I’d taken my regular route to work. But something about seeing it was comforting. Not especially because they were walking for breast cancer, as important as that is, but because there were so very, very many of them, in all shapes, ages and sizes, all together for one reason, even wearing the same color. The Seattle sunshine made all that marching humanity oddly beautiful. It reminds me of the time I turned a corner on a trail in the woods and came face to face with a stag just a few yards away. You didn’t know it would be there, you weren’t out looking for it, you don’t know where it came from or where its going when you leave it. Maybe I’m glad I saw the walk just because I was thinking hard about work, and for a few moments, it made me think about something else bigger than my problems.
A debate raged in my household yesterday: animation vs. comics. Ok so we do seem more than a little cynical about the animation industry these days. Not that I’ve really expressed that in this space but friends who talk to me privately know it. That doesn’t mean we’re out of it. Last night I was reminded that we’re very much still in it as I sat for hours at the computer making cupboard doors open, cookie jar lids lift and oven door handles fit the correct angle. When I have animation work to do its usually in Flash, but that doesn’t mean the computer does much of the work. I’m still pushing and pulling lines frame by frame and making myself cross-eyed with onion skins. When animation work comes in, and it occasionally does, we do it. It’s either for casino games or lately there’s been some work on snack food commercials. Not much is traditionally animated these days but for some reason snack food is. There aren’t a lot of cartoon shows out there doing work I’d care to be part of, and while being part of a television production sounds great, the nature of it means that when you’re done, your own contribution tends to get lost in the sea of the whole. It’s hard to explain that to people that are in comics, and I think that’s why Scott prefers to be able to have his own project, not focus solely on that nomadic life animation tends to offer. Like he says, when he finishes its him you see. It looks like him and it belongs to him.
A few years ago I moved out of Atlanta, and not too much time after that, a close friend of mine moved to New York. We’ve corresponded since then mainly by brief emails and blogs. It’s a relief for people like me, who rarely ever call anybody, that blogs exist, and we can use them to keep up with our old friends. I feel like I’ve spent the last couple of years with him anyway, since he is the person Ferret is based on. He flew out here this weekend for a wedding, we took him out to eat and we had some new friends show him the Seattle nightlife. Over a couple of drinks in a tiny bar you can’t even see from the street, “Ferret” told our new friends the story of what it was like to work in the animation studio together and how Scott and I became a couple. His perspective on that rounded out the way I’d been telling the same story, and I noticed it wasn’t really all that different than how I remembered it. And I thought to myself that old friends really are something special, because they remember you when. They are proof that yes those days were real, you experienced that, it happened. It was particularly fitting to see him now, as some dramatic changes are about to affect the strip and the character of Ferret.