Monday, January 9, 2012

One Year Later

Yesterday honored the one year anniversary of the Tucson tragedy, and while thousands of citizens in Arizona gathered to respect the survivors, I silently acknowledged the day I became truly proud to live in the Grand Canyon State.

I'll rewind a bit: I moved to Arizona from California in 2009, and in so doing, I realized my twelve-year stint in the Golden State instilled me with a very California-centric mentality. I wasn't Anthony Kiedis or anything, but I definitely thought many of the country's, if not the world's, most critical developments revolved around California. After all, the mantra of American Idol is, "I'm going to Hollywood!" -- as if such a sojourn is the end all, be all of sojourns. In short, a part of me genuinely thought moving to Arizona made me less important in the grand scheme, because I wouldn't be living in California anymore.

Then, in January 2010, something crazy happened. Many of the country's, if not the world's, most critical developments revolved around Arizona. The SB 1070 debate at the forefront, with the caricatures of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer in tow, Arizona was the leading topic for news stations' talking head shows and late night comedy monologues. I loved it, but still a bit out of my familiar element, I didn't know how to process it --

-- so I made a comic book. Amazing Arizona Comics became a mini-comic turned epic concept: What if superheroes lived in Arizona, too? How would they react and interact to these already fantastic stories? So, one part political cartoon, one part superhero story, I steadily self-published the first three issues before the end of 2010, trying my best to keep up with the headlines. Sometimes, the news cycle was gracious. Other times, not so much.

Indeed, the biggest challenge so far has just been keeping up. If I see a fun catalyst for a story in the news, my imagination will translate it into a superhero adventure, and I'll want to draw it and distribute it immediately. Unfortunately, I'm just one man! For instance, I'm finally finishing the sixth issue, which guest stars Prince Harry -- yet his Arizona visit was news almost two months ago! Hey, a guy's gotta work, right?! That, and maintaining a great relationship with my future wife, consumes a lot of time; in other words, life happens, but fortunately that's what ultimately fuels the inspiration for this comic, so I can't complain.

And that's what leads me back to the anniversary of the Tucson tragedy. If you don't really know what happened on January 8, 2011, Google it; mine isn't the forum for recap -- nor will I mention the shooter's name. He's received enough press, and, frankly, I don't think we should ever dignify him with mention in the context of that day's survivors. Bluntly -- hey, news outlets, stop flashing that creepy pic in every "One Year Later" montage. At this point, it's distasteful. But I digress.

The day of the Tucson tragedy is as much the stuff of comics as any silly Jan Brewer gaff, but for completely different reasons. That morning one year ago, in a Safeway parking lot, Tucson faced no greater, tangible example of good versus evil -- it was as clear as Superman brawling with Brainiac. Further, the nation saw perfect examples of real heroes -- these are people that stepping in the pathway of bullets to protect others, and/or tackle the villain despite impending danger and harm. There's no other word to describe these people: Heroes.

I was at a comic con selling a mini-comic about heroes in Arizona when I first heard the news about Tucson, and Gaby Giffords. The irony didn't escape me. Some asked if I'd include the incident in the comic. I don't see the need. It's already a good versus evil story. What more can I offer that the actual events haven't -- and, what greater examples of heroism can I interject? My little comic book about current events exploits the reasons I enjoy living in Arizona, but the examples of the brave people that stepped up during the Tucson tragedy are the reasons I'm proud to live here.

To that end, since 2012 is the Grand Canyon State's centennial, I'm going to spend some time on the blog this year discussing the inspirations for Amazing Arizona Comics -- and the local/national news that drives my ongoing interest in current events. I'm excited to document these thoughts, because, like I said, sometimes the comic can't do it fast enough. And, sometimes, you don't need pictures.

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