Shane tries to do the right thing. He’s racing to protect someone. But he finds so often the world and many of us in it do not want to be saved. Then there’s Max, who doesn’t really understand what’s happening and here meets the woman who set him on this path, and what she wants him to do.
This issue is the midway point of the story, it’s a character study, and it’s also a place where the…
Headspace #4 is out on September 3rd. This is the halfway point of the series. I drew 8 pages and Sebastian Piriz and Marissa Louise did 4. It’s scripted by my co-creator Ryan Lindsay (who has a Kickstarter going on right now) and it features some backmatter essays by Dan Hill.
Shane comes face to face with the twisted black heart of Carpenter Cove, and watches it win. Max finally tracks down the lady who started this whole mess and she says something he can’t ignore.
The critically acclaimed book Pipedream Comics are calling “a smartly written, surreal thriller”” hits its emotionally charged middle point.
It’s available for preorder on Comixology now.
The day before **Off Switch** was due to go live, the shootings at Fort Hood happened. The team and I decided to not run it. The subject matter of the strip, despite its length, was too close to the bone. We decided we’d run it further down the line, maybe even with a postscript as to why the strip should still be run, why it mattered. Almost two months passed before we attempted to run it again. This time, just as we were about to put it up, the shootings in Isla Vista, California happened. Again, it felt wrong to run the strip. And so here we are. So today this is going up, albeit not in the form or venue we’d planned. But I felt it was worth putting out there still. Firearm control in America is evidently an issue, the confluence of events just around publishing this strip clearly show that. But there are other factors at play too in the Fort Hood shooting in particular, and that’s what I chose to focus on. What follows below is the original text piece that was supposed to run with the strip in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings.
Off Switch was written prior to Ivan Lopez, a 34 year old Iraq veteran, opening fire at Fort Hood military base, killing four people and wounding sixteen others, before taking his own life.
At the time of writing, details on Lopez are still scant. He joined the U.S Army in 2008, and served a four month tour in Iraq three years later. He was married and had four children. Lopez had received treatment for depression and anxiety, and there are indications he was being evaluated for PTSD. None of these excuse the things that Lopez did. But the spectre of possibility raised by his mental health point to a wider issue.
According to the Washington Post almost one and a half million Americans who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq are struggling with physical and mental health problems stemming from their service.
In Defense Department parlance “wounded in action” only extends to “direct result of hostile action.” This wording doesn’t allow for the invisible scars and wounds in the minds of those afflicted. The military has always been a stressful occupation, but the nature of warfare has changed in the post-9/11 landscape, with asymmetric, seemingly never ending conflicts now the norm.
31% of the same veterans polled by the Post reported the wars had caused them mental and emotional problems. One in two stated they knew someone who’d attempted or committed suicide, with a more recent report stating that two dozen veterans are killing themselves every day — almost one an hour. They’re men like Daniel Somers, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He took his life on June 10th 2013, leaving his family a note.
"My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing."
In 2012 the number of US active duty suicides outstripped the number of combat-related deaths.
Violence against the self are, as we unfortunately learned, not the only outlets for those suffering under the stresses and fatigue of mental health issues and life in the military. The number of killings committed by current and former service members hit its peak in 2006. Of those crimes, those committed against family members and significant others are the highest.
The majority of those who served, and those who’ve suffered because of it, will not go down the same path that Ivan Lopez did. Thankfully, the US military has gone to great efforts in recent years to destigmatize issues surrounding mental health. But it needs to do more. It needs to ensure that every soldier (no matter their role) has an effective support system in place. It needs to ensure that depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder are treated with as much weight as any physical injury.
As Christopher Stevens, a former Army staff sergeant amongst those polled, said:
“When I raised my right hand and said, ‘I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America,’ when I gave them everything I could, I expect the same in return.”
I delayed running Off Switch because it felt like the right thing to do, the respectful thing to do. But it was never my intention to can it indefinitely. It’d only continue to propagate the veil of silence that surrounds the issue of mental health, mental illness and life in the military. It’s a conversation that needs to continue.
Last Born, a 4 issue series that I’ve had in development for quite some time with Patrick Meaney is coming out on August 27th. It’s available for pre-order at your local comic shop. Item Code: JUN140921.
It was formally announced a couple of weeks ago at USA Today.
Last Born #1
What if the Big Bang was not the first of its kind? And, more importantly, not the last? Her whole life, Julia has yearned for adventure, and when she falls through a rupture in spacetime, she finally gets her wish. This cosmological thrill-ride marks the comic writing debut of Patrick Meaney, director of Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods.
Item Code: JUN140921 - In Shops: 8/27/2014 - SRP: $3.99
HEADSPACE #3 comes out through Comixology on June 11th. I illustrate all the scenes in Max’ head and Sebastian Piriz and Marissa Louise take care of the scenes with Max in the real world.
Max makes an interesting pit stop on his getaway journey and Shane is sucked further into the whirlpool of despair that is the Cove via limousine killings, one hell of a mean father, and a building destroying danger on the final page you won’t want to cross.
It’s available for preorder on Comixology now.
#4. Man. So humbled over here at HEADSPACE HQ. lotta great books on that list. Check them all out.
Let’s hope we can hold that spot. Ha.
The 160 page Occupy Comics Anthology is in stores today. It’s jam packed with a lot of great creators. The story I did with Patrick Meaney is located right after the Alan Moore section. Patrick and I were just getting warmed up with this story, though. Our next comic is going to be a lot bigger. There should be announcement from the publisher very soon.
The next issue of Headspace is out in a week. It’s written by Ryan Lindsay and illustrated by me. There’s also some great backmatter by Dan Hill. I’m pretty happy with how the issue turned out! Also, I have to mention that Chris Peterson and Marissa Louise are taking a break this issue, but you’ll all be getting your fix next month when they return.
Shane chases his son through the labyrinthine battlefield of Max’s memories and fears. Will he find a way out, and can he trust that path?
It’s currently available for Pre-Order on Comixology.