Progress Report

So far, so good on the writing job I mentioned in last Monday’s post. After much pacing and scribbling and crossing out what I had just scribbled I succeeded at pinning down a preliminary concept for the AIDS-related comic strip I’ve been asked to do for UAB Public Health. The magazine’s editor seems happy with my proposed approach as conveyed to her in broad outlines over the phone. Next comes a rough sketch of the drawing complete with my first draft of the dialog.

On other fronts: the "commercial" job I alluded to is still too germinal to talk about. My North County Perp two-pager has, unfortunately, been relegated to the back burner for a while, the inevitable fate of non-remunerative endeavors elbowed aside by income-producing projects. (The bills must be paid, y’know.) As you may have noticed, my mid-week blog posts were also a casualty of the week’s professional demands. I did, however, get the lawn mowed.

The animated typist I used to decorate Monday’s post, meanwhile, led my sharp-eyed pal Bruce Garrett to comment by email: "You did the typewriter’s carriage movement backwards deliberately didn’t you?"

Gulp.

Incorrect typing
Correct typing (sort of)
"You give me too much credit, Bruce," I was forced to ruefully reply, since in fact the error was totally unintentional. Our exchange brought home to me how very long it’s been since I have even laid eyes on a typewriter, much less typed on one. How strange that seems, considering how ever-present those old contraptions were from my childhood onward.

Ther clunky black Underwood that occupied a place of honor in my childhood home in Alabama remains an important memory from those days. Both of my parents were part-time writers, you see, so the clatter of metal keys springing rhythmically into action was soothing background noise to me. It meant that my parents were absobed in the same kinds of happy creative reveries that I had begun to discover. Like the noise of freight trains passing fifty yards outside my bedroom window several times a night, the family Underwood’s clatter lost any harshness it might have otherwise have had because of its comforting regularity in my daily life. By the time I was seven I had begun typing out scripts for imaginary radio plays on the same machine I watched mom and dad using.

Of course, if you had looked over my shoulder in those days you might have noticed that my manipulation of the carriage was a little weird, just as my ways of grasping pens and eating utensils have always been. We left-handers constantly devise unconscious work-arounds that allow us to use devices that were created for use by the right-handed majority. Typewritter carriage levers were obviously positioned with the needs of right-handers in mind, as are the shapes of the loops at the ends of most scissor handles. Minor hurdles to utilitarian gracefulness, these are — but we lefties forge onward.

So if the cartoon fellow in my Monday animation moves oddly when viewed from behind, so probably did I before computer keyboards kicked typewriter keyboards overboard. My memories of all that have clearly faded, acclimated as I have become to a world where digital text "wraps" automatically on LCD displays that, unlike typewriter carriages, don’t move back and forth in front of you while you compose masterpieces for the ages.

About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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