On Wednesday of this week, I started out the day with every intention of writing my "regular" kind of column. You know, words of wisdom about armpit noises and flatulence. Actually the ideas that I had incoherently jotted down on Tuesday night in a drowsy haze, right before I fell asleep had to do with breakfast cereal, blinking, teaching a nine-year-old how to play chess, the Carol Burnett Show and Stretch Armstrong. Each of these nuggets undoubtedly having the potential of garnering awards from the Pulitzer committee. But all of these thoughts went by the wayside soon after I woke up.
If you remember, Wednesday was a bitterly cold, midwestern, January day. The kind of day that makes you wonder if the vehicles are going to start or not. The older I get, the more I hate those days. That's what was going through my head as the alarm went off and my feet hit the cold hardwood floor.
As I made my breakfast in the pre-dawn darkness, I could hear the television droning on and on about some office shooting in France. Sadly, that didn't really take my attention away from making sure I got the timer set correctly on the microwave oven. I guess that I've gotten used to hearing about office shootings on the morning news. One minute and thirty seconds later, when the dinger went off, I took the bowl of oatmeal out and made my way to my easy chair to see what the weatherman had to say about the frigid, new day while I dined in style.
As I was sipping my Hawaiian Punch, waiting for my breakfast to cool (I might try a minute and twenty seconds next time,) I casually picked up my phone and mindlessly checked my Facebook page. It was then that I became truly aware of how things that happen halfway around the world can change your day. My oatmeal would get cold.
I should explain to you that when I first got my Facebook account, one of my main intentions was to become associated with other cartoonists, illustrators, artists, etc. ... Basically, other like-minded people that I might not meet while residing in a small town nestled in the frozen tundra of northern Illinois. I was also able to reconnect with several old friends and classmates which is great but initially, my main objective was to get my dusty farm boot stuck in the door of the art world. I believed this to the point where out of the over a thousand people that I'm Facebook "friends" with, easily 80% of them have some sort of connection to the world of art and especially cartooning. A good deal of them do not speak English and a few of them write in some sort of hieroglyphics that look nothing like an alphabet. I have no idea what they're saying but their artwork is pretty cool.
I don't know what everyone else's Facebook page looked like that morning, but I know what mine looked like. It was lit up with a steady stream of news stories about the shooting in Paris. It was then that I realized that the massacre took place at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a world-renowned satirical publication. Several of the people that had been gunned down were cartoonists. If you want the specifics, there is a plethora of media outlets that can tell you all about it.
Since a vast majority of my connections on Facebook are involved in comics and the world of satirical illustration, there was an overwhelming response to this horrible event. Most were sad and angry that something like this could take place. A few had met or had an association with some of the people that had been killed. Some were spouting off about religious differences. Many were just venting about freedom of speech and the press. Throughout the day, many posted their own graphic tributes. It seemed like everyone had something to say. Except for me. My mind was blank.
I have always liked to draw and comic art has always been my main interest. I've "worked" at it as long as I can remember. I have always enjoyed the look on people's faces when they ask me what I do and I tell them about my comic strip. I proudly consider myself a cartoonist above anything else that I do. Did I mention that five of the twelve people killed that day were cartoonists? They were my kind of people. It concerns me that on the day that I should be outraged beyond belief, I literally had nothing to say.
That was Wednesday morning. The clock has now clicked past midnight Thursday to Friday morning and I still don't have anything to say. I don't believe that my muse is coming to pay a visit. I don't know but I guess it's true that sometimes silence speaks volumes.
At this point, my column ideas just seem a little too stupid for even me to chase around a blank piece of paper. All of the sudden, fart jokes just don't seem quite so funny anymore. Hopefully this won't last too long.
So this is my column for this week. I am aware that I basically wrote about nothing this time around. I have voiced no opinion or pointed out anything deep and/or earth-shattering. But let's be honest ... was that was ever going to happen anyway?
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.