You're crawling in the desert, your throat cracked as the hardpan ground. Occasionally dismembered shade flows over you yet the quick comfort which it brings belongs not to the clouds but winged beasts who yearn to satiate their withered guts with the meat from your corpse. As you inch forward, you pray that the end to this wasteland which you see, wavering miles away, is not an illusion from the arid atmosphere.
Many talk about overcoming Hardship's domination yet not what it's like to triumph only to be trampled by the oppressor's taloned feet so allow my insight to inspire your voice and let the rhythm of my speech to be the musical score to your experience.
Those who attain victory after each fall can grow weary from what feels like battling a rapidly evolving virus; a storm which eventually collides like a tidal wave upon those lulls of contentment; An immortal hurricane that taunts individuals as it periodically brings them into its center of tranquility...only to slam its wall of ferocity upon them again. This experience is so exhausting that some are tempted to allow the Grim Reaper to carry them towards a freshly dug grave. So some become careful not to stray too far into the light again because it's a more horrifying experience to suddenly slip and plummet from such a great height than to remain in the canyon. Yet strife can still dig a chasm underneath the feet of those who refuse to climb. So it's best to hope anyways. You see, hope isn't an enemy but surrendering is.
You may be surprised that emotional excruciation, in itself, is not a villainous entity either. It is destructive to those who indulge and refuse to fight (or don't have the support system to fight), the negative thoughts which arrive. Yet there's proof that pain can be a source for creativity, empathy, and inspiration as well, just as joy can. So those who are despondent need to hope despite their turmoil and they need to be able to always communicate honestly with those whom they love and trust.
We all have battles to face everyday. Those who give in to their judgemental ways will look down on those who don't seem to accomplish as much as them. Yet, if the actively self-righteous were to look within the souls of those whom they ridicule, then they'd see that many of them are victors who are fighting the best ways that they can; with all the energy that they have. So, let's not compare ourselves to others. Though our outward accomplishments may seem less than what we did before, miniscule or even non-existent, they are truly equally exceptional; as long as we try our best. There is no such thing as a life without pain but everyday is worth living.
- Written by C.A. Nicholas.
- Top photo by Foundry.
- Bottom photo by 52Hertz.
- Photos enhanced by C.A. Nicholas.
When I glanced upon the first issue's first few electronic pages, I wondered: Will Sweet Tooth taste of blandness? You see, I worried that this completed series about an antlered boy was one of peculiarity for eccentricity's sake despite the marvelous art that masquerades as one of simplicity. Yet I scolded my nascent assessment of the story of a deer child...only to be utterly disappointed...that I almost dismissed this series! To my delightful surprise, I discovered that Sweet Tooth is one of my favorite stories, graphic novel or otherwise.
It isn't a perfect series since there are a couple sequences where an unnamed narrator takes over and the execution of this creative decision lends a feeling of being sped along. Yet the plot and characters are so enrapturing that the wonderful experience cannot be dampened by those two shorthanded segments.
Anyways, this thematically rich series indeed proposes answers to the driving mystery of how Gus ended up with antlers (which is but one aspect of the enigma) before it leans heavily into a multi-layered yet easily ascertainable mythology and mind-blowingly unique solution without cutting off other possibilities. Yet more importantly, Sweet Tooth is an achingly beautiful human narrative which fleshes out almost every featured character while organically bringing them to the same prominence as the initially sole protagonist. This series is one which embraces the necessity of hope and perseverance yet melancholy, tragedy, and fear are not shortchanged, which prevents it from being superficially inspirational.
I entreat you to read Sweet Tooth as soon as you are able.
- Reviewed by C.A. Nicholas.
Ps, this series is available as trade paperbacks as well.
A Bonus Recommendation: I Hate Fairyland.
This is a wonderfully cathartic black comedy series which lampoons children's fairytale tropes including cutesy aspects and saccharine happily ever afters. There's a definitive ending of sorts to the 20 issue comic book series as well so that's another plus (it can be quite tiring trying to keep up with neverending series after all).
My letter is to anyone who has love & chronic depression/anxiety:
Dear reader, I'd like to reassure you of how superheroically strong you are.
You endure an emotional pain so torturous that it is physically felt as society shames you. You fight to surface to a reality of unconditional acceptance, from an ocean of doubt which seems as if it is the truth. You put on a smile when you can, to mask your turmoil, and to bring a joy to others because you don't want anyone to feel a flame of the hell within you. Yet you also try to teach empathy to those who chase eternal euphoria, by getting them to feel and understand the pain of others.
You know that everyone is equal in their worth and the inherent value of all people is perfect. Yet you never give yourself enough credit.
- Love, C.A. Nicholas.
- Photograph by Engin_Akyurt.
- Photo enhanced by C.A. Nicholas.
Sever the tethers between yourself and those who poison your self-esteem. Still love them yet don't socialize with the vampires who gain sustenance from your well-being for their unquenchable affliction. It's nigh on impossible to believe that the loved ones who prey on the kind will fail to mend their shattered empathy; even if they've trashed their promises and regurgitate apologies, both for the thousandth time. They are snakes who charm hypnotists, whistling their charms to reverse your run from them. You will be reeled in by the abusers who claim victimhood unless you keep your face away, your hands pressed upon your ears, and flee. The nurturers that you see them as only exist in the fantasies which they've grown by the rains of despondency, the light of your compassion, the soil of your hope, and their seeds of fraudulent salvation.
- Written by C.A. Nicholas.
- Art provided by Prawny.
Sometimes it takes me a while to register that which is spoken to me.
The latest instance transpired this afternoon at my place of occupation:
[Tuesday, circa 1:00 PM; Location = A neighborhood cafè.]
(Squeak! Squeak! Kerplash! Charlie is washing the dishes as if he were a parent and they his children's mouths who recently brought forth a marathon of particularly salty words).
(Charlie's Boss/Chef walks away from his delectable creations in progress and utters the following as he passes him by...
Chef/Boss: "You're the best!"
(Charlie fumbles out a response in his bashfulness as he etches a small yet luminous smile upon himself).
Charlie: "Thank you."
(Charlie notices that the chef/boss's stroll is continuing towards the basil. Charlie's mind corrects what his ears received. Too late, he realizes that Chef/Boss really said...)
Chef/Boss: "I need basil."
[This reminds Charlie of another time about two weeks ago.]
[Location: Same place. Chef/Boss is in the kitchen and Charlie is in the dining room with a customer.]
Customer: Does Chef/Boss still have his dog?
(Unfortunately, Charlie heard "Da, la, ne, la?")
Charlie: "I'm sorry. What did you say?"
(Charlie waits, hoping that his brain will decipher what it has garbled. Thankfully, a coherent sentence forms. He's still not fully certain what Customer asked, and he has to fill in a couple gaps, yet he doesn't want to embarrass himself by asking the person to repeat themself again.
The phrase Charlie is pretty sure Customer asked is: Is it [my food] still on its way?)
Charlie: "Yes! We just had to find the cheese. Don't worry, Chef/Boss found it! It's on the way."
(As Fate would have it, Charlie's brain rendered the Customer's inquiry to completion a second or two after he finished speaking.
Charlie's effort to save face is to be silent and act like his response to the question was absolutely normal.)
- Written by C.A. Nicholas
- Photo by Pexels
Author's Note: My boss does compliment my work frequently.
Location: Earth 02
Intro: Little did Charlie know when his five year old self slapped a "Count on ME to be DRUG FREE" sticker on his bedroom window that he'd grow up to be a coffee drinkin' enthusiast.
[10/14/2018, Midnight] [Charlie Avinash Nicholas enters his bedroom]
Sticker: Youse a junkie, mwehehe!!!
Charlie: What the...!? I knew that you could speak!
Sticker: Ya child self would be disgusted if he could see ya self now. Me? I'm tickled by the irony and ya couldn't scrub me off this glass pane even if ya gave enough of a care to. Ya naive like Peter Prickin' Pan; ya've joined the horde in gettin' off ta one of the most socially accepted drugs.
Charlie: What? (Charlie sips from two coffee mugs simultaneously). I'm sorry for not graduating yet from the University of Coaxing Bats from Dual Caves.
Charlie: Also known as Searching for Treasure in the Twin Tunnels, Cleansing the Dual Burrows from Gummies, and Tickling the Boogies out of a Pair of Stylish Subways.
Charlie: You know...picking my...
Sticker: Silence! I'm talkin' 'bout ya coffee lovin'. Ya and ya ilk should wisen up enough to begin a CA program. Get it? Caffeinatics Anonymous? Ya are destined to lead with youse first two initials bein' CA and all. Hmmmm.....ya should take advantage of youse last name as well Mister Nicholas. Ah! I've got it...ya club should be called Caffeinatics Anonymous of the Nutjobs! Mwehehe....oh.
(Charlie sets his drinks down, rips Sticker off with a solitary swipe, and repeatedly dunks him in the mugs of coffee in rapid succession).
Charlie: Who's the addict now!?
(Charlie approaches his senses as he stops his dunking frenzy. He realizes that most of the coffee has leapt out of the mug and he begins to sob).
(Sticker believes that Charlie is crying for him yet he cares not. After all, he has no lungs to drown ((but how does he speak?!)) or nerves to scorch. Nor does he worry over Charlie's knowledge of these things; he would never react as an entitled child who was scorned if it led to the murder or injury of poor Mister Sticker. All the sticky ((and currently drenched)) paper lad cares about is...)
Sticker:...a proper drink!
(Sticker dives from Charlie's loosening grasp to indulge in the dregs of coffee in the nearest mug).
Charlie: Well...[sniffle]...that wasn't the response that I expec...[hiccup, sniffle]...ted. Expected.
(Later that night, Charlie authentically apologizes as he and Sticker sit upon the roof, meditate upon the stars, and share a fresh pot of coffee. A prolonged gust of wind carries Sticker away but unfortunately Charlie doesn't notice since he's engrossed in one of his pretentious monologues. Nor does Sticker cry out since he remembered that he doesn't have lungs to speak. After Charlie finishes his speech to an audience of one, he looks beside him to where Sticker was).
- Written by C.A. Nicholas.
- Photo by kaboompics & enhanced by C.A. Nicholas.
Author's Note: I do love coffee.
Dear you, every one whom I adore,
If I die before you then please cherish me in the cheerful memories which I may have been a part of. If all I brought you was agony then exile me from your memories but if I enhanced your life with my love then forever cradle me within your heart.
I am not a god, capable of being an eternal beacon for altruism but that is no pass for my poor decisions which are intertwined throughout my life so don't glorify me if I am fortunate enough to be esteemed within your eyes. Yet don't minimize the neverending war which I lived through nor the battles which I won.
I am merely human, with a cherishing soul that's infected by contradictory inclinations so be free of nostalgic and cynical notions of me. May I be blessed enough to be welcomed into your recollections and if I will be then please remember me for who I am.
- Written by C.A. Nicholas.
- Photograph by jplenio.
- Photo enhanced by C.A. Nicholas.