You've just been looking for it longer.
Or I know what it is. So that's been going on.
I feel like your work has changed a lot, but a lot of things have stayed the same. What do you think?
Well, it's a lot like my poor little body, you know? There's a lot that has stayed the same, but a lot that's a whole other bag. I mean literally, it's a bag! But I think that's normal in the course of someone's work. The weird thing is now — Drawn and Quarterly is putting everything back into print, and I did my comic strip for thirty years, so it's a ten-volume set. So I'm supposed to write the introduction now, to all of the volumes, because i want to put in pictures and notes, all this stuff that I've been hoarding and saving. But you know, I lay in bed before I fall asleep, and what I do is I wait to kinda hear the first sentence, you know? And the sentence that keeps coming into my head is, "I turned five 50 years ago." And it's like, "Let's take look at the math there, guys, is that really true?" Yes! But I can't get past that — wahhh, no! And then I realized that at five I learned how to read, and all these things happend, but it was half a century ago. Half a century! I keep looking for the number to call, you know, like 911 — "Your emergency?" [In a croaking old-lady voice] "I'm 55 years old, and I don't remember agreeing to any of this!"
Well, I think a lot of people find a way to forget what it was like when they were kids, and to forget how incredibly painful and exciting it was —
When you were really alive, yeah.
I think people find a way to dull that, so they can live with themselves. And it seems like maybe you never found that. It seems like it's always there very strongly.
But I have to say that, in my writing classes, when I set people up in a certain way, their writing has that same — it's like there's a chime, or ther's something to it that vibrates. And I've found that they can write the same kinds of stories. A lot of times when I'm writing my comic strip, my whole thing — and again, I learned this from Marilyn — I never know what the strip's going to be about. I never plan it, and what you're seeing is first draft. I dont pencil it. But I go really slow, and whenever the story stops — and this is why I think computers sort of are wrecking this beautiful part of our minds — not wrecking, but allowing it to atrophy — what happens is a story or a drawing always stops. There's this point where you think, "Oh god, I have this creative inspiration, and it's just going to go go go to the end." But there's this part where it just gets quiet, almost to sort of gather itself again — and during that point, that's a critical time not to go back and read over what you've just written to decide what's going on there. It's critical to not put all your brain effort into that executive function, you know what I mean? So — how to stay there. And so what I do — and this comes back to hand movement — is I always have two pieces of paper that I'm working on, on my desk. So if I'm doing my comic strip, and the story stops, I just move my brush over and just draw on another piece of paper until the story starts again. Or sometimes, you'll see Marlys, she always wears that diagonal-striped dress, so then when it stops I'll draw the lines on her dress, or I'll start to draw her hair. What I try to do is maintain that certain state of mind, that's not trying to push and it's not trying to hang back and it's not trying to fix anything — that's the trick. That's the trick to the whole thing, it's a certain state of mind. So thinking about it will take me right out of that. I've seen that it's the same thing true for almost everybody I know — it's the same state of mind when you're walking down the street, and you smell a smell and suddenly there's this time in your life that comes back —