a short film about why I don’t have the next episode done yet

April 30th, 2008 | Uncategorized

beginner's mind

It’s time to post next strip, but it’s not done. It’s not even started. I’m sorry. Here’s my excuse.

62 Responses to “a short film about why I don’t have the next episode done yet”

  1. Ellen O. says:

    I can’t figure out whether this film is a confession or a dharma talk!

  2. It’s kind of a Catholic-Zen fusion.

  3. Sophie says:

    It’s both, plus, Alison’s in loooooove, and it looks like the real thing – all revolution-like and what else is life about anyway, there’s so little time and the Essence is already there so why strive?
    I’m all for it honey(s), go ahead and thrive!

  4. Heather says:

    Liked the film but really, really, really looking forward to the next episode. Actually, would like to see more “Scribbles and Doodles” – fantastic! Remember how involved, how passionate you’d get with art – with a pencil or a crayon – as a kid?

  5. a lurker says:

    oy. Maybe you need a vacation, AB-I know that totally-swamped feeling. Maybe, if you have the script for the next episode, you could put out a call for fan actors and we could act it out and post it! Or we could volunteer to be guest artists for this episode week (who was it who did that-I think family circle? they’d have billy the little kid be the stand in artist? I suspect that when you can really draw, drawing like a little kid takes just as much work and is just as stressful as drawing like an adult-but when I draw it really looks like that! probably even worse! If you need a guest draw-er standing in as JR, just say the word:)

  6. PentacleGoddess says:

    Best. Excuse. EVER.

  7. thisisdavid@mac.com says:


    You said “Shambolic” which I’m sure has nothing to do with Shambala or anything even remotely Lovecraftian.

    Egads M’Lady however do my BF in the the Navy and I love you more everyday


  8. Duncan says:

    On the Zen thing, I’ve always taken comfort from the Zen master who said, “Now that I’m enlightened, I’m just as miserable as ever,” and another who wrote a poem about how on rainy days he sat and felt sorry for himself.

  9. chicken says:

    Oh purr!

  10. B says:

    Oh, Alison, you’re fantastic. And overworked.

    I say, when we get it, we’re lucky to get it. And the strips have been brilliant recently.

    Now I have to stop procrastinating and return to that enormous pile of papers that have to be graded by tomorrow. Ahh, freshman comp.

  11. Maggie Jochild says:

    I’m still waiting to hear what the cat had to say. Or maybe I missed it — maybe not offering any excuse was the feline version of zen.

  12. ready2agitate says:

    I’m kinda ashamed to admit it, because I get SO excited w/every new episode, but I’ve actually been kinda *relieved* this week (?!) just b/c I’m so frickin’ busy and didn’t want to fall behind!

    AB – how about taking the summer off? I mean yikes girl, your schedule sounds awfully hectic and being fried is no good for no one (not us, not Compost Maven, not you).

  13. ready2agitate says:

    (((I think I just figured out why we all get that “slowdown Cowboy” msg from time-to-time even when we’re posting our first comment – seems to come up if someone ELSE is posting a comment at the exact same time.))) ?

  14. Smithie says:


    It would be great if you came to talk at Smith! The Smith republicans just invited this virulent fundamentalist homophobe wacko, Ryan Sorba, and we could use some restorative, dyke-positive energy on campus! Here’s a link to the youtube video of all of us protesting, in case anyone’s interested!



  15. sk in london says:

    Duncan – do you have the reference/names for those Zen masters? They sound like my kind of zen masters!

    And AB, “drawing for the sheer love it” …….;-) just a thought…

  16. Maggie Jochild says:

    I personally studied under the master Lethar Ji.

  17. Cate says:

    Loved the video, and it really does seem like you need a little time off, Alison. Even those of us jonesing for what happens next in the strip/more of you can WAIT.

  18. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’d been looking forward to the next strip as a counter to the brutally sad set of strips Lynda Barry just posted to her site, but I guess I’ll dip into some old Supermans instead. Jimmy Olsen joins the Beatles! Lois Lane gets amnesia and thinks she’s Catwoman! Lex Luthor invents a new flavor of ice cream that’s so good people riot in the streets when he cuts the supply!

    We all have our ways of dealing with stress.

    Alison, take a break, hug the moose, go back to monthly strips if that helps. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

  19. Juliet says:

    Yesterday was my birthday, so clearly the whole world should have been taking the day off.

    They have the right idea for 30 April in the Netherlands, but the rest of the world just isn’t catching, despite my efforts.

    For my birthday, my girlfriend drew me a DTWOF take off strip depicting my cooking attempts (it involved me making pasta with mushroom and banana soup – which I promise I have never made in real life)

    …perhaps you could just use that…

    What I’m really trying to say is ‘it’s all ok, the strip will wait’ 🙂

  20. Hey, Juliet!
    Send it in and I’ll put it up!

  21. Jon in VT says:

    By all means! Take a fortnight off! Good luck.

    Where and when can we see the essay about Vermont???

    — J

  22. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    Relax, Allison. It’s alright that you missed a deadline and there’s no need to apologize. You are only human, after all, like the rest of us, and can only do so much. No need to drive yourself or be hard on yourself. I think you need a good rest. Go do something fun for a while and come back to work refreshed so that you can draw just for the fun of it and not with your nose to the grindstone.

  23. lion's paw says:

    alison, your productivity is impressive… but you look worn out. we haven’t heard much lately about your next graphic novel, and i noticed that wasn’t on your list of year-to-date accomplishments. this leads me to the question, are you really able to continue producing your strip AND write an entire new book at the same time?? sounds extremely stressful to me. i think i can speak for many when i say we want your work in our lives but we also want you to thrive!

  24. --MC says:

    Great video, but when you rolled the cat forward on your chair, I had a bad flashback to “3-D House of Cats”. I imagined that you were going to pick the cat up and go “Do you want to see this cat?” then move it back and forth into the camera while weird theramin music played.

  25. June says:

    I feel your pain (and I’m a great believer in vacations).

    I suspect it’s one of those sad facts of life that an expert cannot return to the state of a beginner. Well, sometimes you can kind of fake it, but doing so often includes drastic changes like moving to a different country and/or assuming a new identity.

  26. June says:

    PS: I don’t want you to think you’re inessential, but it’s kind of liberating to be able to write my own DTWOF story lines. (Mo and Syd are still in the throes of stimulus-package-fueled passion; Cynthia has found a nice moderate girl and is doing some heavy petting …)

  27. elswhere says:

    This is definitely the best excuse ever.

    I think I recognized some Babymouse studies among the drawings in that most excellent Beginner’s Mind sketchbook. Babymouse! My hero!

    Babymouse would say you should eat some cupcakes.

  28. Ian says:

    AB, I’m disappointed you didn’t start off stroking your cat Bond villain style while you made your excuses. L’esprit d’escalier always hits me in hindsight though.

    It would be freeing to think up some bizarre storylines – the unlikely pairing of Clarice and Cynthia after too much rhubarb wine springs to mind. To each other cleave the sex-starved. That and maybe Stuart having an affair with Gerry due to Sparrow’s work-induced lethargy.

  29. judybusy says:

    Good pun, Maggie, on “Lethar Ji!”. Also, my fave Zen saying: Do nothing, yet leave nothing undone. I will also confess I got mixed up on weeks and looked for a new strip on Tuesday, only to realize, of course, there wasn’t one. The onger the wait, the sweeter the prize.

  30. judybusy says:

    Ugh. The *L*onger the wait. Feel free to cast about random interpretations of the typo.

  31. Robin B. says:

    Oh, Alison. My sympathies. You’ve articulated much of what I feel, especially right now. I have nothing helpful or wise or funny or even a teeny bit uplifting to add. Just that I’m feeling these burdens, too.

  32. Eva says:

    I am imagining a posting of a set of Alison’s apologies for lateness/cancelation/procrastination/short film explaining what else is happening regarding posting of strips – and match them up with our responses to said apologies. It could be a little contest – match the apology with the response – or maybe date the apology/response???

    What say to a side of procrastination to go with the excellent film on your plate being overful?!?

    OMG – $5 for 100 pages of a brother and sister’s fabulous drawings????!!! Where did you get that????!!!!

  33. pd says:

    I always found Zen to be unnecessarily obscure, so I ended up in Theravada Buddhism just because it seemed more practical for day-to-day living.

    I did take a Zen approach in a technical paper I wrote once, relying on the insights on naming from “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” by Robert Pirsig. You might find that and the books of Alan Watts easier going even than Suzuki.

    I don’t know why writers on Buddhism have to keep using terms in Pali and Hindu – it just makes everything more mysterious than it needs to be.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Take a break and feed your inner artist. You can’t just magically produce all of the time – you need to fuel the machine. At the very least, take a weekend with your sweetie to do whatever you want, eat scrumptious food and enjoy some good wine.

  35. m'aider says:

    You do sound a little sad when you say “regular strip”. Waving around pages of DTWOF as if they were nothing! And handling the kids’ drawings with reverence.

  36. Andi says:

    Thanks for the video Alison. I laughed my head off at that last line and your facial expression — “worth thinking about..” [mmm…rrrr…whaaa?]
    Headlessly yours,


  37. sunicarus says:


    All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
    ~Pablo Picasso

    I’ve always been a huge fan of children’s art. I have a framed portrait of a painting my cousin did when she was in pre-school. She called it “Gypsy Woman” It is vibrant with orange and yellows. Today she teaches art
    at a school for youth who have either been neglected or just had a rough time of it.

    It is true that children are not restricted by clouds that must be blue or trees that must be green, dogs that must bark or cats that must meow.

    Andi~ I laughed as well at the “whaaaa?” expression. Classic.

  38. Wendy says:

    I loved your excuse video. I wish people I work with who don’t get stuff done on time would put together a quick excuse me video, instead of the usual impromptu performance at the staff meeting. Maybe I’ll have to do one!
    about the beginners mind;

    A true expert is always a beginner. Every question that is answered forms new questions in its wake. Just the same way the number of numbers between 1 and 2 is infinity, (1.1, 1.2, 1.3… etc) and the number of numbers between 1.00001 and 1.00002 is also infinity.

    But I think it is good to keep learning and really knowing things deeply, it makes the world more dense. Of course it can make it more overwhelming too. Which may be where you are. You are indubitably an expert on cartooning, and your world has gotten quite dense. 🙂

  39. KarenE says:

    –MC…that cracked me up, Monster Chiller Horror Theater, with Dr Tongue’s 3-D House of Cats!! Canadian?

  40. Duncan says:

    sk in London, as I recall I found those quotations in Alan Watts’s The Way of Zen. My copy is in storage, so I can’t look them up just now, alas.

  41. April says:

    Excellent excuses Alison. I’ll give you a note for school!
    If only I had an excuse forum (feels sorry for self)…

    Maggie I’m sure I’ve heard of this Master Lethar Ji.
    Didn’t she study under Master Ree Raku Sei Shan?

  42. Isabel Archer says:

    This confessional video brought back painful memories of me in college some twenty-plus years ago. I’d sit hunched in the guest chair in yet another professor’s office, cringing as I begged for an extension on the sixteen-page paper that was due the next day. The professor would unsmilingly inquire as to the reason the extension was needed, and I would start frantically babbling about not being able to sleep, or having difficulty concentrating, or having underestimated the task. What I really wanted to say, and couldn’t, was that I was just really, really screwed up, and that I needed about twelve more years or so to shake all that residual childhood angst out of my system before I could buckle down and write sensible things about Henry IV, Part 1. Anyway, watching Alison’s video made me wince anew. Her excuses, unlike mine, were just so substantive. So utterly compelling. Now I realize that every other student besides me requesting an extension did so because they were busy contributing to literary anthologies of the American Southwest, or writing prefaces in French to some new editions of Diderot.

    Does anyone ever get over college? Or the need to confess? What would a Zen master say?

  43. Nickel Joey says:

    What everyone else said.

    (No worries! No pressure! No guilt! No apologies! We’ll be here when the next strip is posted, whenever that is. Take care of yourself, and do what you can.)

    I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus.

  44. Aunt Soozie says:

    Fabulous Short Film…!
    Loved it.
    Two thumbs up!!

  45. anon says:

    Shambolic? Shamboleic? Shambelic? What was that adjectival form of Shambles??? Brilliance with language, word play saves us all from the doldrums of daily life, does it not?

  46. Maggie Jochild says:

    Shambolic = stomach upset arising from eating bed shams
    Sham Boleic = one of the lesser-known wives of Henry VIII
    Shambelic = an expression of rapture while listening to Wooly Bully and Li’l Red Ridin Hood
    Shambles (see Bush Administration)

  47. C. says:

    As I was watching this, “Book” did run through my mind, but I understand that your life only has room for the strip and one side project at a time.

    Not to mention the first one took years as you have pointed out in interviews.

  48. When I was in the UK a couple years ago, the tech guy setting up for my slide presentation described the chaotic, disorganized room as “a bit shambolic.” I assumed this was an impromptu adjectivization of shambles. It’s a good word. I propose we get it into common usage immediately.

  49. Ginjoint says:

    Maggie…you amaze me.

    Yeah, Alison, take a little time off to recharge and be with the girlfriend and stuff. In the immortal words of Frankie Goes To Hollywood: “RELAX! Don’t do it! When you wanna -” Oh. Best to not finish that.

  50. --MC says:

    KarenE: I’m not Canadian, but I used to watch SCTV on American late-night TV as a young adult stoner in the 80s.

  51. KarenE says:

    I knew it!
    Who can forget “Dr Tongue’s 3-D House of Stewardesses?” Etched in my brain too due to the same reason!

  52. compost maven says:

    Oh yes, I quite agree with Ginjoint: Spend time with the girlfriend!!

  53. jude says:

    i love you & your process so much it hurts. and i want that scribble book!!!! omifuckinglackogawd such is the class of best humanoid-made things ever. ever. a companion to what-to-go-see on a regular enough basis to keep you sweet & compassionate: first & second grade xmas programs.
    may as well complete the curriculum: one funeral and one birth ( preferably at home.) per year.

    anyway – as said by all above, take it easy on yourSelf. and by all means, pick up a sweeter buddhist script. i like beginner’s mind, but i think he managed to go the entire distance without discussing compassion. try Pema, who begins and ends there. love you everyday.

  54. Ian says:

    Nah – shambolic in fairly common usage in UK. It’s a fantabulosa word though.

    I’m sure all you wordsmiths will know the origin of shambles, but Wikipedia provides:-


    (Not suitable for vegetarians)

    And Wiktionary gives a handy (spot on) definition:-


    I don’t have an OED (forgive me) to hand, nor subscribe via the website, so I can’t give you a full etymology or source I’m afraid. I’ve been using shambolic for ages. It’s one of my favourites along with collywobbles.

  55. Lea says:

    “a bit shambolic.”

    My mother tongue is German so I checked my German English/German dictionary. It has the word shambolic listed.
    The dictionary is from 1997.
    Maybe British English?

  56. Ian says:

    I just watched the video again and realised we got a very quick glimpse of your 12 page intro to “Essential Dykes” which I can’t wait to read. You did say that you weren’t going to do any extra story/novella/thingy to include with it so I think that more than makes up for not having the strip this week!

    Ok, we’ve got the Catholic guilt and the Buddhist philosophy, but where’d you get the Protestant work-ethic from? Or is that just in the atmosphere in the USA?

  57. Ian, it’s in the water.

  58. Ian says:

    It’s our fault – the British I mean. We sent over the real hardcore protestants that were so hardcore and hardworking they made the rest of us look bad. If only we’d known what we were doing …

  59. Ginjoint says:

    That was pretty smooth, “Compost Maven”!

  60. April says:

    Ian, fantabulosa!!! You’re quite the bona omi!
    (Bring back Polari, semi-dead niche languages are the coolest)

  61. Ian says:

    Bona to varda yer dolly old eek, April! You’re quite the palone yourself! I only know a few phrases – it’s like all the other languages I want to learn … grasped, not mastered.

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