Saturday, January 16, 2016

Loss and Gain - Inspiration

This week has seen both. . .

It is almost impossible for me to imagine the world we live in without David Bowie.  He's just always been there. . .  the thin white duke. . . the man who fell to Earth. . . Major Tom.

He taught us to dance under the serious moonlight. . .

It's taken me three days to figure out what I'd like to say because I wanted to offer something meaningful and heartfelt. Something to sum up his place in my own world. What I can think of is this. . .  Growing up we all had this small window of time when, for most of us, music was just this magical thing that was a part of our world. Before we knew of radio stations, MTV, Concert tours, the business of it, the sometimes disfunction and self-destructive tendencies of it, the money and politics of it.

A time when it really was just pure sensory bliss.

For me, there is no other artist that sums that time up in my life like David Bowie. Songs like Starman, Rebel Rebel, Changes, Golden Years, Jean Genie, Young Americans and Fame were all over the radio stations and became the soundtrack of my single digit youth. I'd often sit in my room on weekend nights at age 10 and 11 and pretend to be a DJ with my own radio station on my old red plastic record player and I'd look so forward to playing those songs in my "rotation".

There were other artists and songs that stand out, to be sure, but there was something so magnetic about Bowies songs. And in my pre teen years, getting my first look at the visual world of Ziggy Stardust or Alladin Sane. . . well I, and my hair, at least for the next 20 years, would never be the same again. : )

And I am reminded how at my first cooking job at an Italian Restaurant the gregarious dishwasher named Rudi who was literally straight off a boat from Italy, and who seemed so out of place and spoke so little English, warmed up to me and my flame red hair right away and pretty much from his first day just called me, "Bowie".

And no doubt, due in great part to that chameleon aspect of Bowies public image, I've also changed personas over the years. Reinvention is how I have always thought of it but, when one phase of my life ended, I tend to move on completely and reinvent the outer/social/expressive me to suit my new environment. Keeping the best o the past incarnations and leaving all of the rest behind. Those days are far behind now too in all likelihood but, with his passing, I am reminded of it all again.

This is one of my favorite quotes from David Bowie. It has served me well for years in many facets of my life and perhaps never more so than now. . .

"I'm just an individual who doesn't feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I'm working for me." - David Bowie

And then, this past Wednesday, I received a book in the mail that I have been waiting awhile for. I know many of you probably are not very interested in the world of comics today but, if you'll bare with me, this may be one of the most wonderful art books, period, I have ever seen. 

In 2006 a friend of mine, and employee at the coffeehouse I owned then, handed me a comic and said,"I just think you might like this." That comic was the first issue of "Mouse Guard" by David Petersen.

I had not read or even considered a comic book for I don't know how long and was not prepared for the effect it would have on me. The art is, as I think the cover of this hardbound collected edition alone shows, simply amazing.

If you were ever a fan of Redwall or any animated animal series, DO check this out!!
David Petersen draws, colors and writes the entire series.

It inspired me
It lifted my soul
It righted a listing vessel which was, in many ways, my whole life at that particular point in time and it steered me back towards the possibilities and wonder of my youth. 

It was just the first of many comics I would come to love over the next few years (comics today are such a far cry from what I grew up with!)  and, whenever things felt a little dark or I lost sight of the connection between those early days of imagination and where I was at the time, I'd just pull out those issues and let them take me away again. 

Mouse Guard reminded me of my love of Redwall as a child and brought back a sense of purpose to the world I wanted to create as an adult. And, it led, indirectly and with many other little factors and influences, to what I create now. 

To this world I live in now. 

Never happier
Never more certain
Though, these past few days, a bit of sadness. . . missing Mr. Bowie and realizing time is always and endlessly marching forward for us all. . . 

“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming”  ― David Bowie




  1. It was a difficult week. Bowie, then Alan Rickman, I was just gutted. It's hard to lose someone that has a substantial role in your memory, who has played a role in your childhood, helped form who you've become... even if you've never met them. It's been lovely reading the stories that people had about them though. It makes me think 'I want to be remembered like that' and strive to be a little bit better.

    I'm not a comic person, but I'll have to check out David Petersen. Heck, perhaps it's something the kid and I can enjoy together.

    1. Nichola, Yes, very difficult. . . both of them passing. I felt the same, wanting to be a bit better. . . I have been feeling it for some time now. I recall when Elisabeth Sladen died, that was the last one to hit me as hard as Bowie. I had a friend when I was 9 or 10, she was a few years older and she was my childhood Sarah Jane Smith. . . though she scramed a lot less and bossed me around a bit more. lol

      Those days. . . endless they seemed. And that's what I hate being reminded of mostly. . . that they will end and maybe that's good to be reminded of too? Oh to be timeless and forever. :) Thanks for sharing!

      And please do check our Mouse Guard if you two have the time! I think it is one of those works that transcends the genre. : )

  2. I read something online that it is not an accident, that you were born into a time - and you could have been born into any - yet you chose this one - and you were alive here on Earth at the same time as Bowie. There will never be another Bowie. I love reading your side of the story Nicolas. What memories! I have only ever seen a tiny photo of you but do recall the white blonde hair. Or that's what it seemed like... I remember dancing to the vinyl in my lounge before I was a teenager. That's got to count for something! Your mouse book is great, reminds me of 'Ralph the Motorcycle Mouse' a book I had as a youngster. Always enjoy your lovely long posts. <3

    1. I believe that Louise. . . I try not to get too caught up in the why or how of it but I take it as truth that I did choose this time and place.

      Do you recall the feeling of dancing to that vinyl Louise? The freedom in it? The purity of the expression? That's wha I think of with almost all of Bowie's music. . . and yes, especially those days of youth. I just try to capture that in everything I do and create as time goes on. Those days are the ones to hold to. When everything else seems to be so off kilter. I am always clinging to those above all.

  3. I will have to check out Mouse Guard, the art is wonderful!
    My favorite david bowie experience was Labyrinth... I may have said this before but My oldest daughter and i watched it daily, literally, for a year when she was about two. She was obsessed to watch it but scared of the goblins, and so would have to sit on my lap to watch. Now she can't believe she ever liked it, but even after seeing it soooo many times i still like it. He was perfect!

    1. That is such a sweet story! I am with you. He was perfect in it and Labyrinth is always going to be a favorite though I have not watched it in a few years!!!
      Now I am trying to think of movies I loved as a child that I would scoff at now but. . . I can't think of one. : )

  4. Such a beautiful and sentimental tribute to Bowie. I like that quote too. This year has certainly been a tough year so far with well known celebrities leaving us...Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Glen Frey, to name a few.

    I remember the comics of my teen years. My favourite was The Phantom. I loved that he had a wolf helper because I feel very connected to wolves. I don't read comics so much now but I do admire the illustrations in them. As a matter of fact, I follow a couple of comic creators/illustrators on YouTube. They are so talented at what they do.

    I've never seen the Mouse Guard comic series but, just from the illustrations alone, I think I would love them.

    Thanks to this post, I am now following David Petersen's blog. Much appreciated. :)

    1. Serena. . . yes, a very tough year of loss. . . never expected.

      YAY! I loved the Phantom too! :) Much more than many of the traditional marvel/dc universe.

      And I am so glad you found Mr. Peterson! That mouse guard collection is so inspired, not just for the art but for the background story of the life-long journey of it's creation. It made me realize how long something like that can take to see to it's completion! And his method of working with handmade models of boats, buildings etc really allowed me to see myself illustrating my own book too. Because that's how I "draw", not totally from my head but from using mockups and art dolls etc.