CHRISTOPHER PREVITE ARTIST DESIGNER EDUCATOR
I have found comfort and insight into the human condition in the pages of comic books for over thirty years. Loss and responsibility have concerned me for just as long. Early on, I learned that nothing lasts, people die, and that loss comes in many shapes and forms. Whether it be physical death, emotional or intellectual disconnect, or apathy, all relationships are impermanent. I also know that in the face of this impermanence, we have a responsibility to ourselves and others and that, more often than not, imagination and whimsy can help us cope and understand. My current practice explores these themes through comic book storytelling.
I set out to teach myself all there was to know about creating comics. Along the way, I broadened my pursuits to include fiction writing in the form of micro-stories, image creation, illustration explorations, and spoken-word narratives. This wider view of storytelling techniques has resulted in a number of interesting projects that I am currently pursuing. Here is an overview of several of them.
Alice and the Moons
The idea for this story had been floating around my head
for years. Since around 1999.
I had Y2K scares, Prince’s first comeback, and Alice all occupying space in my brain
at the same time.
Basically, it’s the story of a little girl who goes to the moon to collect the most amazing cheese ever in an effort to get her parents to stop fighting.
Along the way, she confides in her best friend, meets some rats, connects with her brother, saves their town, and maybe even helps her folks’ marriage.
Later, I came to see this story as more about relationships and what our responsibility to those relationships is – and what happens when we
abandon that responsibility.
When I decided to use the Alice premise for my graphic
novel, I began researching NASA and the moon, both historically and in fiction. Quickly, it all came together
as pieces to a puzzle I didn’t realize I was trying to solve fell into place.
America’s famed Apollo Space Program ended abruptly. In 1972, two astronauts (a pilot and a scientist) walked the surface of the moon for the last time. While there, they conducted amazing experiments and much to their
surprise, discovered something wondrously delicious. Before returning to earth, they said, “...we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.” But they never did return, and, in fact, left something very important behind.
Fifteen years later, ten-year-old Alice Moon and her older brother Greg struggle to find a little peace and hope for their family. Their parents, Beth and Jim Moon, cannot get along, something sneaky’s happening in the garage, and there’s never any damn cheese in the house. Alice’s best friend Lucy Reeves says, “All parents are aliens,” and who knows...she just may be right. Or maybe the answers lie back on Earth’s moon, where three forgotten travelers – Harry, Gene, and Ron, have been waiting.
Take a thrilling journey to the moon and back with Alice
and the Moons.
Dog and Rhino
A dog and a rhino lingered in bed together as the sun rose, each wondering what the day would bring. The dog imagined a face to lick, all salt and possibility. She loved faces best because that’s where the person lived. From the face, you could tell everything about them. The rhino hoped to be taken seriously. He was stuffed after all, not living and breathing like the dog. “More like panting,” thought the rhino. He too had a lot to offer. It wasn’t just about the horn. Most people couldn’t get past the horn. “Today, I’ll use my full name,” thought the Rhino, certain that the added “ceros” would help them see past the horn and into his brain. Into who he really was. And with that, the dog licked his face, settling for plush over flesh. Less salty, but just as sweet.
“Bye Daddy,” chirped Emily as she pressed her lips against
the glass for a kiss.
“Off to school?”
“Of course. It’s morning.”
It certainly was, thought Emile as his daughter’s sing-song
voice disappeared down the stairs. Then, a shift in water
temperature told Emile that Eden must be showering in
the downstairs bathroom.
“Running late again,” sighed Emile.
In squeaks and scuffles he began his stretches. You have to stay limber, Emile would often caution. In truth, it didn’t
really matter to Emile. He hadn’t left the shower stall in
over two years and wasn’t sure he would anytime soon. Their water bill had soared but Eden understood. At least, that’s what she told Emile. Luckily his singing was so much better in here that his career in jingles had also soared.
Of course, installing the recording equipment had been
costly, but his new contracts more than covered it. He was, as you would imagine, a curiosity, but that too was
quickly diffused with some well-placed, vinyl, contact paper. The paisley pattern even complemented the Italian tile Eden had chosen all those years ago. Back then Emily
didn’t exist and Emile was a much drier man with a much
less impressive voice. At first Eden tried to sleep in the
bathroom, to maintain connection. She assumed it would be temporary and while occasional soggy sheets were a price she was willing to pay, she did not expect Emile to
never again emerge from the glass and metal enclosure.
“Maybe it’s me,” she thought. “Maybe he comes out when
I go to work, when no one is home. When I’m not home.”
Emile assured her that was not the case. Even so, she couldn’t help checking for damp footprints in the evening.
She had long stopped hearing the constant sound of running water, but there were still certain areas of Home Depot she couldn’t bring herself to walk down. The kitchen faucet would continue to drip, and that old, cracked garden hose would not be replaced anytime soon – but Eden didn’t care. She just wanted her husband back.
Emily was less concerned. She even laughed when the kids at school called him fish-dad. “Wet hugs were the best hugs,” he would say – but she didn’t really believe that. All
she knew was that her father loved her and really, that’s all
As Eden pulled from the driveway, the first notes of the “Best Bubbles” jingle caught her ear. “Dammit,” she whispered into her chest and turned the car toward the
bright morning sun.
“Here, let me come down,” said the fur; and with a thud and a shuffle, an orangutan was standing next to Oprah. “Is that better?” he asked.
Oprah’s mind raced as she took two big steps back. “Is he talking? To me?” she thought, “Why is he talking at all? What does he want? Are orangutans dangerous? This is an orangutan, right? Baboon? No, no. Orange means orangutan. Like in that old Clint Eastwood movie.”
“Look,” said the gravely voice, “this is different. I know. But this joint is sooo slow, and you looked a little lost. I’m good with ‘lost.’ I feel that way a lot.”
Oprah just stared, mouth agape.
“C’mon. Let’s see if we can both get found.” With that the orangutan shuffled past the trees where the fence ends and onto the western path of the zoo. “Well?!” called the orangutan, the sun blurring his outline.
“Awright then,” Oprah said to herself, her head shaking a little as she took the first few steps toward the path, just past the trees. “Here we go.”
Oprah and the Orangutan
Oprah owned an orangutan only once. It was years ago
when she was feeling low
and needed a friend. The
other Oprah, all famous and fluctuating in weight, made
her sad by basically being everywhere, so she went to
the zoo hoping to chase away her blues.
The gates creaked on rusted hinges as Franklin Park
opened to absolutely no fanfare. It made no difference to Oprah. She was happy for the solitude. The crane, sensing her mood, angled for a smile by following her along the fence line. “It’s okay buddy. Flap on, I’m fine,” Oprah said as she veered left off the fence toward the simian house. Dry,
pale colored leaves danced in the wind and collected in the
doorway. Oprah pushed her way in, bringing a half dozen
along for the ride. Dark and cool, the air in the simian
house reminded Oprah of her parents’ basement back in
North Carolina. There was a smell of damp metal and
moss and Oprah noted how yellow the lighting was.
“Hell of a place to be a monkey,” she mumbled to herself.
“Sure is,” came a voice from seemingly nowhere. Oprah did not take another step and, for a moment, wondered if the deep, gravely voice was her own. Then the yellow lights
quickly washed away as Oprah’s leaf companions blew
around her ankles. The rush of cool air braced Oprah as she turned to see the entrance open. Sunlight stabbed in at a sharp angle through the door frame and the air began to fill with grunts and hoots and screeches. A disjointed symphony of monkey sounds grew ever louder and frantic
as Oprah leaned forward on her toes and sprinted through
the door, leaving the leaves alone. By the crane’s fence
now, the distance and Oprah’s own breathing, heavy with
fear and worry, drowned out the simian symphony.
“What? What?” stammered Oprah. She stared through the
wire holes hoping the crane would bring answers or at least a zoo worker. “What...shall we do now?” came a voice from above her. “Is that what you’re trying to ask?” The fence shook in Oprah’s hand as she looked up, through the sun, to see a mass of autumn-colored fur sitting atop it.
Into the shadows walked a cowboy. He carried a set of
crutches in his left hand and a jumbo bottle of soda in the
right. Three liters at least. Car after car rumbled overhead
as he ambled under the 93 overpass. They mocked his
old-fashioned hat and his just-off-a-horse way of walking. The crutches though, they gave him away, insinuating that their had been no horse under him today. The fact that he
carried them suggested he was at the end of his recovery,
or perhaps he was faking. Maybe the fall from the terrible
horse never happened. The gasping crowd, the crunch of
bone as he landed hard - all a convenient fiction. Maybe he just wanted to be left alone to drink his soda and the crutches made that possible. Normally, a cowboy would never be seen with that much soda. A single can, sure but only after many, many beers. In the crutches was a freedom to be who he imagined himself to be, not who the wide-brimmed hat demanded he be. Not whom the crowds cheered for if there ever were any crowds at all.
Unger and Ursula
Unger urgently ushered Ursula under the umbrella. The rain came in sheets, deafening against the umbrella.
“Let’s go!” he yelled as they moved toward the vestibule.
The pigeons, too, had scattered, leaving soggy piles of seed behind. Soon, the rain would wash the seed into the canal where the gondolas rocked and bumped with the waves.
“Where is it?” asked Unger, placing the umbrella upside
down on the tiled floor.
“I have it. I have it. Be patient.”
“Like the rain?!”
“Yes, Unger, ‘like the rain’.” Ursula pulled a cherry-red box
from her jacket. The lacquered wood shined under the gas
lamps. “Twentythousand Euros,” she said.
“Twen...That’s double”, Unger said, surprised. “Yes, well, I
was not expecting rain and these boots are expensive.”
Unger stepped from the safety of the vestibule into the rain. Piazza di San Marco was blue-grey as the sun slipped from the sky, leaving only the clouds. Glass tables puddled
with water throughout the square and Unger noticed the
top of a piano had been left open in haste. Unger’s hands
glowed orange. Only the veins and edges of his fingers at
first, like placing a flashlight to the palm to see it glow. Strings of light grew from his finger tips next and Ursula reached for the umbrella. “We are not children anymore, Ursula,” Unger said, raising his hands, “and I no longer appreciate your games.”
Ursula’s eyes grew wide, and the air around her crackled
and hummed. “Unger! Unger, no... plea...”
The sound of the rain stopped, and Unger, arms out as if crucified, released a ball of orange and white energy
toward the vestibule. Ursula’s pleas silenced along with the rain, and in a flash, she was no more. Unger’s hands returned to his side, no longer glowing as the rain returned, harder than before. Soaked, Unger knelt by Ursula’s pile of lifeless clothes and retrieved the red
box from her jacket. “Ah Ursula. It really is a shame about the boots.”
Copyright ©2016 Christopher Previte • All Rights Reserved