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The Reason She Left and Other Stories

The Reason She Left and Other Stories

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A young woman in search of wholeness...

Nettie Olsen feels like a stranger in the Citadel of Reason, a place where logic rules over impulse, light over darkness, and all positive dualities dominate the negatives. Which would be all right... except Nettie's upbringing has led her to believe that being born female means being born on the wrong side of the equation...and there's therefore something wrong with her.

In The Reason She Left, Kristen Caven’s follow-up to Perfectly Revolting: My Glamorous Cartooning Career, she and her characters cleverly explore ideas about dualism, perception, linguistics, feminism, post-modernism, and war. Other Stories elaborate on dreams, love, animals, road trips, feet, and more, with intelligence, insight and humor.
Early feedback includes:

"It's awesome, and so different from anything I've ever read!"

"I participated in the second wave of feminism, and sometimes when I look around me now, it's unclear whether the philosophical bases took hold. How refreshing to experience the growing-up story of another woman pondering similar questions from the perspective of a younger generation!"

"Kristen Caven brings the disciplined imagination of a thousand ballerinas and the incisive wit of a Gary Larson to her graphic essays on life, love, education, and the real meaning of everything. Hers is a decidedly woman's vision and voice - a woman who has come of age, with full awareness of how she got there."

"Brava, brava, Kristen Caven! You have given us a lot to think about, look back upon - and peer into the future for!"
A young woman in search of wholeness...

Nettie Olsen feels like a stranger in the Citadel of Reason, a place where logic rules over impulse, light over darkness, and all positive dualities dominate the negatives. Which would be all right... except Nettie's upbringing has led her to believe that being born female means being born on the wrong side of the equation...and there's therefore something wrong with her.

In The Reason She Left, Kristen Caven’s follow-up to Perfectly Revolting: My Glamorous Cartooning Career, she and her characters cleverly explore ideas about dualism, perception, linguistics, feminism, post-modernism, and war. Other Stories elaborate on dreams, love, animals, road trips, feet, and more, with intelligence, insight and humor.
Early feedback includes:

"It's awesome, and so different from anything I've ever read!"

"I participated in the second wave of feminism, and sometimes when I look around me now, it's unclear whether the philosophical bases took hold. How refreshing to experience the growing-up story of another woman pondering similar questions from the perspective of a younger generation!"

"Kristen Caven brings the disciplined imagination of a thousand ballerinas and the incisive wit of a Gary Larson to her graphic essays on life, love, education, and the real meaning of everything. Hers is a decidedly woman's vision and voice - a woman who has come of age, with full awareness of how she got there."

"Brava, brava, Kristen Caven! You have given us a lot to think about, look back upon - and peer into the future for!"

More info:

Categories:Types, Comics
Published by: Kristen Baumgardner Caven on Sep 14, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial
List Price: $9.99 Buy Now


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i .

Or a person who is full of light.com www. People might not remember you. inspired by the song Freezing by Suzanne Vega & Phillip Glass. Introduce yourself enough times as “Brad’s roommate. Or one who cannot be seen or defined.a. TITLE PAGE: “Air Quotes”—watercolor pencil on paper. In the Big City.k. Or one who is pure consciousness. But socializing can leave you feeling emptier than being alone. Or who feels like a blank canvas. without a face. ii . since they were altered that time you had that intimate conversation.kristencaven.” or “an art student at City College” and you can start hearing your own quotation marks.COVER: The figure with the rays of light where her face should be is from the part in The Reason She Left when Nettie arrives in the Big City and realizes she is not defined by anyone or anything.littlepig. You may never see the same people twice. and have had a hundred intimate conversations since then. Kristen Caven) isbn-10: 1451587813 isbn-13: 9781451587814 © 2011 by Kristen Caven all rights reserved www. a young single has access to lots of other young singles. The Reason She Left and other stories by Kristen Baumgardner Caven (a. *(mostly stuff).com 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 First Edition LITTLE PIG PRODUCTIONS Operas and stuff* Feel free to sing along. This picture also can be seen as a young woman whose mind is being blown. Or having a religious experience.” “a freelance editor.

table of Contents

a bRIef hIsTORy Of The aTOmIC TheORy kIDO COmICs 8 12 16 20


lIT-CRIT lOve IN pO-mO TImes The ReasON she lefT 22 55

NOT exaCTly a faIRy Tale eGO sUm 60 63


afTeRThOUGhTs 65 (notes on the opera)

Make yourself comfortable.


iv .

Perfectly Revolting: My Glamorous Cartooning Career. exploring the nooks and crannies of my brain with a pencil. some went on to invent blogs and webcomics. Publishing their writings in supportive and collaborative environments. A Wimmins Comix editor invited me to submit to issue #18. lest I kill off more collectives. I drowned my sorrows in volunteering (sacrificing my feminist ideals for historical fantasy by modeling expired fashions and dancing in a bathing suit on stage) and design work. In the 1980s. In the nineteen-nineties. My first book. outlining ideas and questions with black lines.. besides. Deeply in love with my sketchbooks. Exploring identity as well as narrative. I was oblivious to this... A few years ago I realized that I’d not only developed enough skills in my years of desktop publishing to pull my works together. #3. Muses. the last issue of each. I looked for excuses to turn stories and essays into sequential art that pleased my audience of one: me. they sort of took over the place. (shockingly. they opened a seam of awareness (and sometimes anger) that women and girls have their own stories to tell. I was reading Garfield between bouts with the Great Books..A. but enough nerve in my glamour days to put them the heck out there. and by the 1970s had squeezed a lot of interesting heroines and women writers out of the industry. tells my tale of cartooning in and after college..INTRODUCTION THE REASON SHE WROTE the things in this book Since comics began. the last issue published was #17. I made up almost as many pen names as characters. Personal computers arrived and everyone got busy being graphic artists. I was a founding member of Friends of Lulu when it was just an APA (amateur press association). and like to read. targeted towards girls!)—and slowly but surely the graphic novel became a mainstream literary form. Discovering the opportunities of the times. People had kids and had to find real jobs. and of witnessing a hystoric revolution. I was busy meandering through my college career. just moments before the times changed.C. published whenever a free copy machine appeared on my path.I. and my Atomic Comic was printed in it’s first ‘zine. I finally touched the edge of a circle of women artists. sisters of the ink had elbowed their way into the growing alternative press movement as Wimmin and Grrrlz. But it could have just been that the times were changing.. and learning how to shade them so they looked real outside my head. I became fearful of publishing my work. When superheros arrived in the 1930s. The Reason She Left began serialization in Grunge #5 and W. A tsunami of manga arrived from Japan.C. but alas. women have been drawing them.take us away! 1 . My boxes of art soon acquired the classic “California basement” smell.. The book you are about to read releases my secret collection of personal rhapsodies on life’s mysteries..

A Brief history of the Atomic theory
“In the beginning, Man did not ask questions.”
The first comic I ever drew is dedicated to Lucretius, a Roman philosopher who walked the earth a few decades before Christ but many centuries after the ancient Greeks. He wrote this beautiful poem called De Rerum Natura, or The Nature of Things, which presented the history of scientific ideas, and also disguised some very radical concepts about the knowable world by wrapping them in a beautiful love poem to nature.

“...newborn lambs gambol on wobbly legs through tender grass, their baby hearts tipsy with winy milk.”
In capturing the adore-ability of the natural world and maintaining very firmly that “Nature is Beauty,” Lucretius was able to coax those who believed “Nature is Magic” to understand that “Nature has its Reasons.” He couched his “bitter doctrine” of scientific inquiry in the “pleasant honey of the muses,” so superstitious readers would not freak out about things like atoms and the void. I thought this was such a cool idea that I wanted to ride on his coattails. I wanted to convey the adorability of science by drawing my term paper on the Atomic Theory in cartoons instead of dull, scientific text. I made the main character “Man” and dove right in, letting the art and words flow naturally together.






alpeci o . wo ean rnst Nat g t urop rg E actl n n wa s. ach ance o es than e Sometimes. but r T o o po the nt t gh t ypo ory. Bergma this occurr n called ence a “sin gle electi and can be ve attracti explained on.. It w her th long do justice to the subject ly t y l ta to t theor t worke ory ra a very y as smal tists matter by next Monday.” by the seco having a gr nd substanc eater affin e (C) ity for th the one (B e first (A) So after the first chapter on ) displace than d. ex dred and Ge y of t q w un ga r rther a ing cles. h .. a n pursued fo ce fuou her in e c rt n th hi the questi tan the . the combin ation as much of if there ha Well. I realized I ne eory it e a th t as th it was with fa it was ugh had created a problem: no rove p an re e. a cien e answ ns?” An tiovidualell-k ic perrce present in each an lid m s. there so e of at tah t Gre er to ine n th actinown s: must be so S ve fo ture to me sort a n i w part . — made a di — specifica fference to process! (F lor example. Or e ere. ation?” teen-h eches. By t diffe t ter. E o he taki uestio hat. it f e wer o identified go fore Lavois ned a d th oxygen as s.But every step of scientific knowledge is made through an infinite number of smaller steps. the hat i ar the . Clau ees of affin typewriter to skip ahead a de Louis Be ity this idea. If s Disserta ee on subs take traction: tion of El betw gas n Apparently ective Atuld substances r a atio the partic co ces . substa by their re ancient ideas. mostly. one to h nuous ce enou ely st importa er—and that t k i — n cont evide en a li was so for mat matter open. rn e ier lai waher be rb p rticle the combustibl bega ry.. whi he que much rspace? e-ei answ a rticles separated by t l -Lau tre lat The that er. f Give i x B u been on part in sit ate si achim oa ilook at ad e nes stuf n this. It nation tion of le.) 6 3 . then (B e might not ) have been bumped away Berthollet (I did manage to work in the idea . To ex ern Bergma e part of pa 1 rm ld ntu ce. e s s ha er w ar and ble to ze a p there int to proces scov di po ules he ssi thesi . e v time . weight that amount paper with words only. Th mposed ruth somewh n expla nipula as simp ere co ng in a t w w a ma t oi star nswer. thousand years and finish the ne of ques He realized tioning ly. (B) than (C d been twic ). In ake the must d. Lavoisier to h th g st si ok ick to re d e l ann Jo e phl stlennia gether oe xt er tuation: how do rta h ce ? isi wo h substa Why th In t e Joh il we whe re ted or mit on. the first thing displaces one of the (C) two. rthollet li and contin ked ued the li on his own. fatheor still. I sadly turned to my nces can for one an lative degr other. “ coe Lavo teentuld a gas be contin nces k t mp uous if ch f s li g sti ent d osed hof pa y ve tist finall ks. in her d step matter y be d nhe a uses st blin d: “If uld the t scie ure he fir s aske y. for heor to n t w d scie how ho show t ticul as not ither when the paper was due.) sought to prove that competitiv e affinitie of pre-atomic substances acting s depend no t Ch ap tw er t o out the Charles Atlas ninety-five pound weakling drama.f o . is n er By the end of the owev f atom for s. of the indi isi abl bur was ent te ler a so icles. es s. ri when you ad one thing a va (C) to a co d mbination two things of (A+B). To p import is cas rst ste k befo easy e a there was no way I could fi th as so an wor one sk. o orm have a grea les of some pa id ter attrac liqu transf f the s particles of othe tion to ce r substanc rtain others do. And th be compared us. suit en it er inqu Just a few ithe e part year y bs be wh eep en. o y work theory cessar h alone introduction.

gues single ato e si nd sha mogheou itched en sw cals mg erent base sometimes B. sumin te laini emai were d e pros. like riosThe t s u h e bu ed nt aro e…or ssac’ tanc cover s. icltrue that able ratios ha It is es. c ize nce acid . while the that at STP the num ga(volume 2:1 ed ume is Avo e ssac assert in any vol deo t som 1 7:1. .ho bega of hn D w they proport mass. He asse Ch ap te rt h the icals. atomwo. Cered uld sten es. em onsi tanc wosubs part some substa . 57 shed a dif with two of d n Gay-Lussac alwa rticl combo tions! For observed Alumi3 Joseph-Louis ms when he es ys u same propor 525 mg of res ory of Ato nite . ts ne lat happe liant t compare al w scientis all l rs a actionu No ! eq s! re yea Petit a bri ence TP tu f rt t S trol na omic n s o id our sho érèse t upo oinc hat a mber er F d ew c h s e a d hapt t nu w atom A f xis T umble ot a tiv n ( ual ie C er ho e t n ela tipl es tio discov eq of th flame Ale nd s r. eri t y in theroexp of a allerts sort ith eanever h they l combinati d fina e. matter. as in the larger times. i s one base e For exampl of hydrogen. but Ni measures of ree tha ctly umes tance. ato trous gas. ar t a ho s what. ma ate) certain su Su gf b e ac 577 s in which nce. 100 cept Now tha to produce For exampl t th of Oxygen constant. could conco ca . Gay-Lu substances Ame a for all s. the not consis kiight aoxide. act th n ex and pressu on the The mbines with res light acid co in rd temperatu gases combine in t at standa of of Carbonic of ti num. is n ts co ic Lou goofi ientis e atom eir No sc rre bestanci. tes it to f pot of ining powe y constitu o lf s rmines comb of C rm two ash” (a Suitur affinit ations of ic mass is what dete a the implic pota rbonic neutral form tiveacid ac of varys st thought c y. quest. humbled by the medium and infected by the desire to put more big ideas into pictures.w erd all of th predict th n t. For ins of hydrogen number rat te with one small wholeoxygen uni is roughly io s of weight rat two volume ber ). d? ed th gen. than that form anothe t fo ey to c ic to e sa r g concerned es more r uni es und that th me s les of tion by asesand another base or seven tim portions are A might par te have ound and fo multiple pro t. a f ume e fif t l e s) ity if t vol cule f dif y th ested is ru weightof nto ledge n inquiry. And s n tly c u and no mor oug t w tends . an sined with the diff example.Then I continued my studies. And r salt. Ae d. ite propor u i hls empo fi of compound or w a cont pport t cation guny pl r raree defin e cove u th i s th regulate the ratios i a h a tinu y to c nuous s e exis of cwem sible ture Na had om te po he rs aof ! ous u ic l e in subs bine c bstance nce oftancs se The nces combin es. e unite to mak nt recula th And ar atom of oxy o s salt... onnec . or 200 ratios. prov me ve y s ea span of ! ts mo d. vide. as Pie d to illy disc en and thus. f Al i u ic made of the dawn of ippery scie umin rtheac th ortionmg prop 1605 s id ading to sl u math the th e men a the Ni varym! ratory to comb of le nete always will ine. B them. chem e. T at ca wothat rnenableific comm iston of cu e rk ie og s c sidu s u al he e nd ropean sc s in phol ow se the re tire den ay-L f sub y di met ific fou Eud n relaomd th leaving e en t e G l c ll nd e couthat f a hu wion. a they o ac e ratios ar the s e n why d mult ervatio combi next s though thes nts with iple ned. tthe s that. and sa e acid and has three porng t n his ht unig t sub iscoid y mig s box B ned ac e hat combined on h another water. He wei t six e three of r he combined gen two ghsance . comb that p 50 measures make Nitric arti e Mind ined n will take m. asures to furt cles ge of S me Alto m for ato h cien e. Jo ox. st. f two turall would imply B co B had theory of substance thatash . Gay the same. basi er exp make up ce w Nitrous Oxid small number to form Ni e very l c as r 0 measures t. th of often but rous e of Nitm olecul o to cvioes han t as us this occurs synthesis m two pre c of the ld gIn all more tounds. And y body mult of “ 00 mg ’s active ight of an we r. of n of tep s experime w ific. 7 . and all e laws xperime to be tivered. by thin great the tant relati ific h ght igh Mankin k of ed s c wei e we etal took a spar that help con e the he spe s e m a fortun k nature’s c the ach ac as g t e edu him cr sterious t w to d ividin of my ic s duc most d e Atom pro entist d by de! Th a likely co sci mpou o a c n is ? Theory Is it true story. th erent spec on s o yo e behi . acidy tor 10 (con . The ygen. if box ) p ed r lts had st . Oncespecas to in Richter’ paratoms defin the Jeremias Benjam ions n mig work arted this A has three a they ex ht alton thre it e. 7 ferent substance will ze pa pe. drogen n combnd one olBut Dalton v I .n but not in i ounts of ot oth ra various er reasonaccept different am ways conform are al emicals tain ch ratios they tro- the rted that ty. eory emat nd t to the labo also de back y e final ical heirwillnth of A ich the sl l Cts sent Clau c that y to s quanti toms h Hiontdoubentur tions by wh y. a a acid wi salts. at and y one ex sug ina didn’t lik there is onl his beight. er. tly vari her with ve no tios. exa ferent vol (STP). dif ios. p of equals the com mes rs final volume r u pai p fo u in it spl 4 ong iDul g stemat uld sy weights. the degree but on quan the iplied by traction. th e differen s. t Doesn’ s! rk it wo 7 So many words. a molecules ume of ine est vol -Lussac’s oxy tion om pla g e that. 5Given th ty years it s o . i ruggle to e r ump minds a ul ve and nd a rathe ass s ha ed th ey m pacit sthe through the unity. sertiocar re th the chemis with bon would allow th comas by gol mg 525 bstances ss work By the ly mg o of inl thine wtive. 1605 and 10 mass. th a few greaided know b t o t i Th le huma ans of kers. they ar tion laws ore how matter ead . suc l in ld di tom o el na ht ow th ce H fl volume’s wor on would fill the spa in a mens rave wou ch a trav mig om ts. wou . but the of hydr en. Th . as far as ms of substa hemi he sam a the acids s in. pa rog ub an e of th e part f propo s with vealed a certain one to one form. potseph oPrine Jo assi mb ou s nd 1 rather nast ine t to l A um n we wi 000 l also isnd. since y a y ul to go aroundd of inh as h twos. . bases. So little time. tOththi occupied. nd. in that comb h.

He shambled up and frowned at my right foot while I was standing in a neutral position. A little ChiKung/XiGung/QiGong and a few acupressure treatments revealed the secret lines of incorporated energy that. I found teachers who helped me discover the grace and power of my body’s own movement. and erase disease. Many traditional quests for knowledge lead students across the bridge from Western philosophy to Eastern. soft-style Tae Kwon Do showed me how to employ gravity and use physics along Geometrical planes to give my punches and kicks more power.” he demanded. Ignore your vitamins.is that the mind can’t do all the work alone. unable to carry a thought from minute to minute... I ran faster. kicking it straight.. I started paying attention to the position of that foot. invoking the Magic of Nature. A hybrid.” he growled.The Kido comics “From your center comes your power.” I explained. Over the next few years. Re-learning how to stand completely changed my perspective on life. and from the knowledge of the mind to the wisdom of the body.. as well. can alleviate pain. Who would think the position of your feet could affect the way your neck feels? Or your stomach? Or your heart? I breathed better. Avoid sleep long enough and the mind loses its integrity. when flowing right. “But it naturally goes at a 45-degree angle. A terrible ballroom dancing accident put my first foot on that bridge. my ankle was never the same. I twisted it over and over again just by walking or putting my socks on.” The thing about a life of the mind. “Make it straight. cure illness. and your mind can take you on trips of paranoia and self-pity. I fell down less. and became aware of where my elbows and chin showed up at any given moment. “It’s broken. I learned simple techniques to keep my body healthy. 8 . Drink too much wine and your body turns it into an open culvert for the flood of your whims and emotions. My science teacher invited me to take his morning T’ai Chi class to strengthen my ligaments. or even check out on you—just when you need it most. After landing caddywhompus on the final whirl of The Beautiful Blue Danube. So my mind could continue its mischief.

Ki-Do * Comics * or LIteraLLY. “the waY oF ChI” 9 .

Do MeaNS 'waY'. * 10 * The big asterisk is to note that different ethicities have different Natural curves in their lower backs.Ki-Do * Comics * or LIteraLLY.but find your own center of gravity. KIDo IS the waY oF eNerGY. LIFe eNerGY. Tae Kwon Do was invented by and for Koreans. “the waY oF ChI” KI IS ChI. Try these if you like . .

11 . * or LIteraLLY. “the waY oF ChI” DISCoVer the CIrCLeS aND LINeS.Ki-Do * Comics DISCoVer the INterpLaY oF oppoSIteS wheN You MoVe.

I wanted to write a cartoon about my relationship to animals. This was my first memoir. Be an English teacher overseas! Do caricatures on the mall! Get a Fulbright and study Capoiera! Work on an automobile factory assembly line! Be an accountant! One roommate said.) In so many ways. even though I’d already met and lost my greatest love—it felt like my life had yet to begin.six true stories Or.” Um. my life as a cat. (Relax. Always investigating my own connection with nature.. “Wow.we could really go places. This dream ended the day I watched my horse’s shoulder get stitched back on after she wandered through a barbed-wire fence. It put me in such a mood. even though I was working two jobs and starting my lifelong business.. How could I ever begin to sort out the strands of story and figure out who I was? People were always giving me great ideas about what I could do with my life. It felt like I was just standing still. even though I was attending the third of the four schools I’d pass through on my way to a college degree (one of them art. (We never went anywhere. I had already had so many interesting and confounding experiences in my life. Though barely in my twenties. one of them martial art). 12 . that story’s not in this cartoon. great stuff! With your drawing talent and my brains and sense of humor.) I had seen this great Swedish movie called My Life as a Dog. yeah.. which had compounded year after year. about a boy who moves around from home to home and nothing seems to make much sense.. I walked around with a very heavy feeling of just how OLD I was. which had been so important to me a child I wanted to grow up to be a vet.

13 .

14 .

Plucked and dressed for cooking. We named him Godzilla. When I was a kid... at the park. I must resist the urge to run around and pat people on the head. 1 2 Sometimes. gentle and friendly. My dad bought a “variety pack” of adorable. 3 What would you get if you crossed Jack Canfield with Steven King? 15 . One rooster grew up to tower over the rest.. fluffy chicks in all different colors and styles. and took him to church for bless-the-pets day. He was gorgeous. he weighed fifteen pounds.From the sketchbook: Three random musings on poultry breeding..

then the music slowed and the pitch went down. The cinematic sweep of the sparse desert..and a few years later found its way into this story. I was serenaded by Solid Gold Hits for a few miles. I made this trip many times. (After that there were portable DVDs.. but always with regard for the emptiness of the Great Basin. I tucked my sleeping bag over my legs so the pitiful heat my old VW Bug could produce would at least be trapped around my freezing feet. a cold snap was keeping the western states well below freezing. The January day I drove the eight-hour stretch of America between Salt Lake City and Reno. I had found it at a garage sale. rock me sl-l-low-l-ly. After a final line of Rock me gently. which seems to have ended with my generation. I popped the only 8-track tape I owned in the player. the tape froze in the player and I couldn’t get it out to play the radio.in god’s country A Wee tale of the Wide West In 1987. I moved to the West Coast to start a new life. the only broadcast I could enjoy was the stream of my own thoughts.) Fortunately. a tradition for lone travelers since traveling began. the eerie floating mountains on a hot day. cell phones and satellite radio. I have a lot of different radio stations in my head.. and the comforting presence of the giant cowboy at the casino in Wendover became part of my own internal landscape... 16 . never as uncomfortably as the first. halfway through my college career. and for all the profound empty spaces of Earth. For the rest of the day.

17 .

18 .


I liked a drink now and then. and everyone was all quite smug about it. The guy may have been in an altered state. where—I wondered—did ‘Man’ fit in now? For that matter. where I encountered the version of twenty-somethings who came to big colleges to party. But alas. after it seemed all of Lucretius’ questions of nature had been asked and answered. where did men fit in? At the end of the millennium. more knowable time. in a world where I was so busy trying to make all the ends meet. but why spend my nights erasing the brain cells I’d spent all day building? I saved my money for other things. social practices that had once been considered radical (like tattoos) were now de rigueur. Maybe there’s a really smart guy out there (is he still handsome?) who might remember this conversation. I had a high-concept flirtation in a club. I never understood this. fix this ephemeral moment forever. In a world of man-made experiences. 20 .” Into an urban wilderness I went. As if the books were closing on all known history and thought. Like to buy myself time away from a job. Things that had once been sacred (like making love) (I mean having sex) were now casual. One night. Even philosophy had a new name: theory. I had to capture it on paper..Lit-crit Love in po-mo times “My knees went weak when he said ‘semiotics’.. so I could spend more time drawing and writing. the preponderance of meaning made it the shortest of short relationships. The snappy dialogue was right out of a black-and-white movie from an earlier. Or not.

21 .

the reAson she Left
“All men desire knowledge.”
As a college senior, I read a speech by the post-modern German writer Christa Wolfe. She wondered about women of literature who are left outside the place men build with their words, unprotected, “made to believe that the only mode of rational thought is the entrenched one.” Like a third-act turning point in a noir thriller, in which everything that has transpired previously is suddenly seen in a new and terrible light, Wolfe’s wonderings opened the door to a new paradigm for me, and I chose to write on this topic for my senior essay. But once again, I endeavored to make art out of my learnings, rather than express them with just plain words. I conjured Nettie Olsen from the swirl of my imagination and set her free on paper to give voice to the demanding questions that kept me up at night. Like me, Nettie was an intuitive, emotional, and (we assume) menstruating creature who wanted to find some connection between the lofty things she was learning in school and the reality of her life. Unlike me, her life was pretty clear-cut, with a real place (the Citadel) symbolizing what is, for the rest of us, a subtle state of mind. The only things clear cut about my own life at the time were the scraps of paper cluttering my apartment (see Afterthoughts). While writing about freedom of thought and self-definition, I became a “slave,” my roommate would tease, “to my creative urges.” For three months I tried, with my pencils and pens, to keep up with Nettie’s iconic twentieth-century journey of self-discovery. Her wonderings and wanderings built a bridge for me between the female dark-side-of-the-patriarchy on the one hand, and an authentic, brightly-burning, self-motivated humanwith-boobs on the other. With a matter-of-fact libido and an even more matter-of-fact desire for friendship, Nettie’s journey is not so much through a plot as through a series of intense conversations...a favorite experience I had never found in a comic book, but thought might be served by the medium. (Remember, comics is a medium, not a genre...and every known form of art was once just a crazy idea.)

A few words to the reader: please forgive Mario’s short shorts and the gang’s knee-jerk reaction to the military. In 1990, the world was pre-Shaq and preIraq, in spite of the gals’ belief that it was post-everything else. It was the end of a millennium, and that doesn’t happen very often.




NOTE: Yes, there will be footnotes. For what is postmodern literature without subtext?



NOTE: Read the fine print in the first panel. Girls tend to get better grades than boys in the early years, then fall behind in this world of opposites.



NOTE the presence of the geometrical proofs on the board after the wall of words has gone. Nettie longs for the harmonic relationality of mathematics yet, it seems to have been ‘proven’ that her voice is sub-liminal. Learn about how women contributed to the famous and gorgeous Pythagorean theorem. 29

30 .

31 .

32 .

NOTE: Although it seemed like they dreamed the same dream. But that’s another story: his. 33 . Eric awoke thinking of what he was leaving behind.

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a dress—that would mysteriously open up doors for me and help me find my birthright. And I would begin a relationship with a dress—yes. As if right out of a dream. which would prepare me for love. was anything but cliché. and move on to a new and more harmonious reality.. authority figures. But that’s another story. I wanted to live the unexpected life. Within a year I’d make a new friend who resembled Melissa Steadman from thirtysomething (the tv show).. I wanted to avoid all clichés. I never really wanted to grow up. After college. The real gown...not exactly a fairy tale “Freudian slippers that only I could wear. transformed me in my own mind from a sweatpants-wearing college nobody into an iconic figure from a more glamorous era. (Nowadays it would be. blended families. sparkling with glass beads and fringed with ostrich feathers. and personal power.even the big ones like marriage and family.. at the time. kind of like how Reid understood Nettie (but differently).. 55 . I wasn’t ready to take the next step. A guy who listened to my dreams and understood me.) The Cinderella myth was a good container for my childhood issues with housecleaning. There was even a prince at the end.” Romance and happy endings are about being able to let go of one reality that doesn’t work anymore.. But my soul had it’s plans and sent me a dream that.. my feminine power. He bought me the gown. today’s princesses all seem to know Kung Fu. the kind that lasts a lifetime. My psyche chose it to offer me a glimpse into the delicious world of friendship I would soon enter..

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.. 69). Which is a book in a book You can make it yourself. Turn it sideways and then around.. But they’re all steps on a journey to the last page.” There are many words in this book. Words and pictures.ego sum “An insight. see p. It’s the story of Consciousness Growing up On planet earth The school we all attend. And follow the directions on the back. 60 . or tear it out or copy it (or download it free..

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with help and inspiration from many. But mostly Greeneyes. Sherry and Snuffy. LeviStrauss. 33 Images: Betty Boop by Max Fleischer. The Odyssey by Homer. Mickey Mouse by Walt Disney. who is mistaken for Neil Diamond by 9 out of 10 people. Joyce. Eco. wherever he may be. Six True Stories is dedicated to Greeneyes. Lasse Hälstrom is awesome. written. Insights and funny personal culture bits from many friends and boyfriends. Others are listed below. The Reason She Left was made possible by Dr. DeBeauvoir. Ninety-five pound weakling trope © Charles Atlas. Lit-Crit Love mentions American semiotician Charles Sanders Pierce. More special thanks to Jack Lincoln. A jam on Barthes. John’s. Based on Lucretius. classmates and comrades made it into this piece. Da Da Da by Trio. Barbi- 63 . KiDo Comics were made possible by Brian Lee and Annie Lee of the Dragon Well School of Kung Fu (formerly the KiDo Institute). and a lost dream of St. 27 Book: Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes. Yes. Kazantzakis. And Johann Strauss II. Lyrics: Lady Marmalade by Bob Crewe. p. Daisy. p. the foot-kicker. The Olsens are not my real parents. Christa Wolfe.ROLL CREDITS This book was drawn. with inspiration from and conversation with Barbara Roseman. and Radar. and of course. that’s Shaquille O’Neal referenced in the intro. Richard Gray at Mills College. Kafka. and the patience of Eric Sanford. probably. De Rerum Natura. Borges. Lyrics quoted in the intro to In God’s Country © Andy Kim. designed and published by Kristen Baumgardner Caven. Kraft logo. and my brothers way cooler than Ricky. Rolfe Humphries tr. Kenny Nolan. A Brief History of the Atomic Theory comic was made possible by and is also dedicated to Jack Lincoln.

thank you to all those people whose names come up in the credits. 38 Images: MTV logo © MTV. 46 Images: Coke®. Programs used were Adobe Photoshop® and InDesign®. Hair musical by Rado. The Persistence of Time by Salvador Dali. girlfriends. NBC® are just words. Words: My brain hurts by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. ®. Dave. and kbc comic caps. Levis®. aren’t they? p. 32 Book: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera. p. and an image similar to the one his artists created. Thank you to mom. X-Men © Marvel Comics. 39 Movie: Brother from Another Planet by John Sayles. but I think a rapist philosophy exists in prison. p. 44 I actually thought of ‘rapism’ myself and wondered why no one else used it. 45 Books: The Boyscout Handbook and The Anarchist Cookbook. p. 40 Books: Heavy Metal Magazine. Born in the USA album cover by Bruce Springsteen. Blackjack. 48 and 49 Lyrics © Bruce Springsteen. dad. p. and everyone else who encouraged me along the way. brothers. p. ex-specially my own personal superhero. p. architect. and MacDermot. Madonna and Child by Joe Ortiz. Ricky’s Images: BUD is a trademark of Budweiser®. Chartres Cathedral. p. 36 Images: IAC building. One huge feminist author came down hard on this word. with a special shoutout to Felix Boomerang. Le Model Rouge by Rene Magritte. 50 Images: The White House. and other natural beings as well as women. Woman with Book by Pablo Picasso.p. 35 Images: Wheel of Fortune.. Bettie Page. 37 Images: Whistler’s Mother by James McNeill Whistler. p. Frank Gehry. Books: The Far Side by Gary Larson. animals. p. Fonts used in this book are Avenir.. Ragni. 54 Lyrics © Sting In Not Exactly a Fairy Tale there’s a lyric © Walt Disney Co. criminal. Thank you to my readers for helping me see my work more objectively. p. Young Woman in White Reading by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. How do you collect royalties on the subconscious? Also. 64 . p. and thinks ‘misogyny’ is better. thirtysomething is probably © ABC. The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. and everyone who brought culture and pop culture to my particular brain. and corporate cultures that okays violence against men.

Afterthoughts 65 .

and business cards stored in precarious piles. I’m telling you: drawing is dangerous business. You can kill a $40 pen if a mosquito lands on you wrong. Sometimes. or an inch-wide wedge. I got into the serious stuff: pre-printed pattern sheets by Zip-a-tone® and Chartpak®. I used ink washes and watercolors in my early works. for example. They’re these high-tech instruments that serve up a steady stream of ink around of a thin wire that fits snugly inside a tube of a precise diameter. say. a fingernail moon might end up back on the artwork somewhere and then show up unexpectedly on the Xerox® copy. I’d cut a piece of zip-a-tone in the approximate size of. backs of receipts. I assure you I burst into song once or twice! (Didn’t you? While reading it?) People often ask me how I did stuff. here’s how. I switched to cross-hatches and dots when I realized copy machines and printers can’t see shades of gray. To add some depth and details. I got a lot of practice when doing my weekly panels (See Perfectly Revolting).Notes oN the opera The arts and the crafts Were you actually hoping for an opera? An actual opera? Opera is the plural of opus: Latin for work. Then I’d whip out my razor-sharp Exacto® knife and trim off the excess. a grass-thin sliver. learning to cut and paste using brushfuls of rubber cement. these Little Scraps of Paper got transferred into a more meaningful format. leaving a little dent in the paper along the black line. I drew most of these comics with the Rapidograph® pens my architect boyfriend gave me. So you got it: my full-page comic opera. When ideas for my operas (plural of plural of work) appeared. Like drawing paper. you have to keep track of the scraps. notebook pages. Using scissors. hoping not to bend it. and then try to re-thread the wire through the tube. The wire is attached to a barrel that makes a gentle knocking noise when you shake the pen. You have to clean the pens when you’re done with your project. then peel the back off and stick it down. Bear’s shirt. when the Gods rewarded me for cleaning my desk. biting your lip. (When using this stuff.) 66 . and covering the paste-up lines with Liquid Paper®—or strips of correction tape after they invented that. they usually got stored in some sophisticated system of postits. When I undertook my Opus Maestro (The Reason She Left).

) keep inventing newer and better ways to do the thing you just mastered. Which meant the detritus would stick to my elbows and socks and get tracked around the apartment for days. The Xerox® machine made publishing accessible and easy. Different roommates would respond differently. Parviz Banki. Robin Briggs and all the others whose names pop up whenever you open a design program. David Berggren. Along came MacPaint® with twenty builtin. expressive. from somewhere on the scale from amusement to patience to white hot rage. be—for a small investment of only 67 . Steven Balensiefer. Then the world’s innovators invented cameras and lithography. I’d draw on any available hard surface— coffee tables. In the really olden days. and even became an artistic tool with the amazing enlarge/reduce. even the nicest of them would smile good morning through clenched teeth. then and rub dry transfer lettering around it for a snazzy graphic design. kitchen tables. and finally copy machines. In a simple thirty-one step process I learned to ink a drawing. And art takes time. interchangeable fonts. the third being that need for space): living in technological boom times means the powers that be (yes I mean you.I wasn’t a very neat person when I was working. Then copy it again to create a master. I’d focus on the project and everything around it would blur. illustrators who wanted to make reproducible art would simply engrave their pictures right on to a printing plate using metal tools and hammers—which were pricey but they’d last a lifetime. the backs of books. copy it again. with their drying inks and cut-out edits laying around overnight when I was working on them. reverse. cut and paste it. Plus. reduce it. bed time always comes too soon when you’re on a roll... and dark/ light functions. Oh glory. before I could afford a proper drafting table. Those were the glory days!– Then Jobs and Woz went and invented the PC. more than you ever imagine when the idea first strikes. On the worst days of the biggest projects. Sometimes I’d need to leave my pages. here’s the second most annoying thing about creating art (the first being the need for sleep and food. sizable.

The Rapidographs® can stay safe and dry and unused on their way to becoming antiques. No more rubber cement ($3. Gustave Doré®. The temptation to go with the flow gets us all in the end (even grandma’s on FaceBook®) and now we’re slaves to the upgrades until who knows when? In many ways the appearance of a monitor looming on my desk stemmed the tide of comics from my brains and hands. maybe hundreds of dollars by not buying Letraset® rub-off type! Then they invented scanners ($350). And I’ll also hope they’re singing along. yet could be instantly reproduced at will from the comfort of an art lover’s home on a printer no larger than a loaf of bread.. (Oh. hello little graphic symbol of an Exacto® knife (inclued FREE)! Time spent on the learning curve now included knowledge of a new language made up of abrasively un-poetic acronyms like SCSI and TIF and JPG. Including this whole book. the tilting artist’s desk is gone forever. I’ll pat my dream horse and thank the atomic theory and wish I’d written something more useful. he’d probably have tossed his natty scarf over his shoulder and coughed politely.. And if you tell me. goodbye photostats ($15 each) and blue-line paper! Click a little tiny paint-bucket and you’ve got 55% screen without the stickyness! Goodbye dangerous Exacto® knife ($6). 68 . in the future. for the days of Rubylith™!) Thank goodness for the For Dummies® books ($39 each)! I wanted to stay a pen-and-paper purist but eventually. and now that there’s email and FTP. that his steel etchings could be found. I never have to leave the house. resentfully.. some day (I expect I’ll be able to get email in the world beyond by then). say..well. If you’d told... that my comics are being seen as movies that readers watch on the inside of their eyelids from the comfort of their own brains.$1500 (plus $600 for a laser printer). then turned his back and started banging on his scratcherthings. in a virtual world where they took up no space.50)! Hello Photoshop® ($600) and Pagemaker® ($300). And everything I’ve ever written or drawn or painted can fit on a single tiny silicon chip. I caved in to the excitement. I could now save tens.

each with their own paper doll & coloring books. Set contains Sammy Sperm’s Real World Adventures AND and Emily Egg’s Guide to Fashion. a visual poem that puts human development in the continuum of cosmic consciousness. tied together with a narrative memoir of her journey from college to “The Real World.. of independence and identity. A tiny book about a big idea.. It’s fascinating and entertaining to follow Caven as she grapples with ideas of feminism and femininity. . enthusiastic. much to Emilly Egg’s chagrin.. and often downright funny portrait of the artist as a young woman. “An insightful. open. a cartoon history of the historic 1990 student strike. order or download a free pdf at...com 69 .” Contains Inside the Mills Revolution...” ISBN: 9 —Mills Quarterly 78-1-4 414-15 43-1 mini-comics! ——————————————————————————— A Match Made in Utero A double-duty gender-exploration paper doll and coloring book set! Sammy and Emily are the dynamic duo of grinning gametes. of course.ALso By the Author Perfectly Revolting my “glamorous” cartooning career A collection of over 100 cartoons from Kristen Caven’s ten years of ‘tooning..A charming and honest memoir of growing up with a creative mind. ISBN: 9 78-146 106185 4 WWW. featuring emily egg. and of realizing the power in her pen. Sammy Sperm’s Guide to Safe Sex Sammy Sperm demonstrates techniques both for highly unsafe AND truly safe sex. Ego Sum an insight.KristencAven.

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