So, let’s see, the story behind this drawing is obviously a long and strange one. For those that follow my comics, this is the same boy as in the Boy From Santa Cruz storyline that I did a while back, the beginning of which can be found here.
As much drama as there was in the Boy From Santa Cruz storyline, that was actually the streamlined version of it. Between originally meeting him in a club and then actually drawing him, there was something like 10 months where we talked over text a bit but pretty much drifted off, and then I saw him at a club again, and asked him if he remembered me, and then the six months or so that we dated and I did the drawings in that original series happened. That Fourth of July strip, about one of our good, early nights together, is about a Fourth of July that’s now two years ago.
After we kind of broke it off that time, almost two years passed in which we didn’t talk much, several other guys came and went, and then, for whatever confluence of reasons, after this last breakup we started talking again and decided to do another drawing. He said that after he dates somebody, he needs some time before being friends with them again. Two years, really? I think a big part of why I still talk to him is that I can never figure out exactly what’s going through his head. He’s either stimulating or just obstinante, or maybe I’m stimulated by obstinance, I’m not sure. For all my talk of tying boys up, I think in a real way I’m the masochist.
That’s actually why I like to do these tied up boy drawings, because of the fact that I’m doing them of people I know or have dated, the drawings, while ostensibly about sexual sadism or power play, are meant as my expression of affection toward them. They’re interesting relationship metaphors for me, because the thing is, I tied them up, but they can be untied any time they want to. The person who’s tied up always has all the control, it’s about the illusion of power.
One of the 10 billion great lines that Bob Dylan has written is in the song Abandoned Love: “I march in the parade of liberty/ But as long as I love you I’m not free/ How long must I suffer such abuse/ Won’t you let me see you smile one time before I turn you loose?” Devotion to somebody else is always about masochism, because if you admit that you like them and don’t want to leave them, they’re the one with the choice to leave or not, and you’re the one who’s tied yourself up.
When I was dating the BFSC, I bought an Ipod, and when I first loaded songs onto it and put it on shuffle, the first song it ever played was Abandoned Love. In that song, he’s the one who’s suffering “abuse” but he’s also the one who wants to turn her loose. The two are the same thing. After that, for me that song kind of became the theme song of my relationship with the BFSC, I would listen to it at least once a day when I was dating him. He wasn’t ever aware of that, though, I don’t think I ever played the song for him or mentioned it to him. As much as I wring my hands about him being inscrutable, when I can wrest myself out of my own narrow vision for a moment and see it from his side, I realize that I must have been equally inscrutable to him, if not more so. My interior life doesn’t seem mysterious to me because I’m living it, but other people aren’t. Although they have more of it than you would have with most people, they have all these comics.
I used Independence Day day as the strip that represented the happy part of our relationship, because it seemed to me like a good symbol for freedom for obvious reasons. That moment when you think you can be interdependent with somebody else, and still be free. I’ve managed to have those moments, and in some cases even sustain them for quite a while. I haven’t found out yet whether they can actually last indefinitely, but I like to think they can. The fact that I’m posting this new strip on Fourth of July is a serendipitous coincidence that I should probably take credit for planning even though I didn’t.
The chair I drew him in in this picture is actually the chair at my desk where I draw almost all of my comics. That seemed fitting to me. It’s a drawing of somebody tied up, and that somebody is in my chair, the chair from which I create art. I like to push the question of who it is that’s actually tied up here. I opened the whole Boy From Santa Cruz storyline with a drawing of him tied up, because it’s actually a story about him dumping me. In that drawing, he’s tied up to a door, he can walk out it any time he likes.
Also from Abandoned Love:
“I can hear the turning of the key
I’ve been deceived by the clown inside of me
I thought that he was righteous but he’s vain
Oh, something’s a-telling me I wear the ball and chain”