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

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.


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and by the 1970s had squeezed a lot of interesting heroines and women writers out of the industry. The book you are about to read releases my secret collection of personal rhapsodies on life’s mysteries. A tsunami of manga arrived from Japan. My first book. and learning how to shade them so they looked real outside my head. women have been drawing them. Deeply in love with my sketchbooks. they sort of took over the place. 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.. tells my tale of cartooning in and after college. (shockingly. published whenever a free copy machine appeared on my path. #3. Muses. I made up almost as many pen names as characters. Personal computers arrived and everyone got busy being graphic artists. but alas. People had kids and had to find real jobs. but enough nerve in my glamour days to put them the heck out there... and my Atomic Comic was printed in it’s first ‘zine. Perfectly Revolting: My Glamorous Cartooning Career. targeted towards girls!)—and slowly but surely the graphic novel became a mainstream literary form. I finally touched the edge of a circle of women artists. Discovering the opportunities of the times. exploring the nooks and crannies of my brain with a pencil.. outlining ideas and questions with black lines.. the last issue published was #17. When superheros arrived in the 1930s.A. I was reading Garfield between bouts with the Great Books. I was busy meandering through my college career. The Reason She Left began serialization in Grunge #5 and W.C. I was a founding member of Friends of Lulu when it was just an APA (amateur press association)... besides.C. My boxes of art soon acquired the classic “California basement” smell. they opened a seam of awareness (and sometimes anger) that women and girls have their own stories to tell.take us away! 1 . just moments before the times changed. lest I kill off more collectives.INTRODUCTION THE REASON SHE WROTE the things in this book Since comics began. and of witnessing a hystoric revolution. In the 1980s. In the nineteen-nineties. and like to read.. I looked for excuses to turn stories and essays into sequential art that pleased my audience of one: me. Publishing their writings in supportive and collaborative environments. 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. I was oblivious to this. sisters of the ink had elbowed their way into the growing alternative press movement as Wimmin and Grrrlz.I. Exploring identity as well as narrative. some went on to invent blogs and webcomics. I became fearful of publishing my work. the last issue of each. But it could have just been that the times were changing. A Wimmins Comix editor invited me to submit to issue #18.

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.






To ex ern Bergma e part of pa 1 rm ld ntu ce. wo ean rnst Nat g t urop rg E actl n n wa s. ation?” teen-h eches. 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 . mostly. Clau ees of affin typewriter to skip ahead a de Louis Be ity this idea. Th mposed ruth somewh n expla nipula as simp ere co ng in a t w w a ma t oi star nswer. weight that amount paper with words only. (B) than (C d been twic ). alpeci o . h . es s. E o he taki uestio hat. 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. ri when you ad one thing a va (C) to a co d mbination two things of (A+B). the hat i ar the . And th be compared us. for heor to n t w d scie how ho show t ticul as not ither when the paper was due. 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.f o . — made a di — specifica fference to process! (F lor example. Or e ere. it f e wer o identified go fore Lavois ned a d th oxygen as s. o y work theory cessar h alone introduction. e s s ha er w ar and ble to ze a p there int to proces scov di po ules he ssi thesi . 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. 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. of the indi isi abl bur was ent te ler a so icles. 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.. fatheor still. rthollet li and contin ked ued the li on his own. but r T o o po the nt t gh t ypo ory. ach ance o es than e Sometimes.. ex dred and Ge y of t q w un ga r rther a ing cles. substa by their re ancient ideas. whi he que much rspace? e-ei answ a rticles separated by t l -Lau tre lat The that er. 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 . By t diffe t ter. then (B e might not ) have been bumped away Berthollet (I did manage to work in the idea . Bergma this occurr n called ence a “sin gle electi and can be ve attracti explained on. 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. the first thing displaces one of the (C) two. is n er By the end of the owev f atom for s..” 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. a cien e answ ns?” An tiovidualell-k ic perrce present in each an lid m s.But every step of scientific knowledge is made through an infinite number of smaller steps. a n pursued fo ce fuou her in e c rt n th hi the questi tan the . e v time . I sadly turned to my nces can for one an lative degr other. 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. suit en it er inqu Just a few ithe e part year y bs be wh eep en.) 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. rn e ier lai waher be rb p rticle the combustibl bega ry. It nation tion of le.) 6 3 . In ake the must d. the combin ation as much of if there ha Well. thousand years and finish the ne of ques He realized tioning ly. f Give i x B u been on part in sit ate si achim oa ilook at ad e nes stuf n this. “ 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.

vide. 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. B them. a a acid wi salts. an sined with the diff example. is n ts co ic Lou goofi ientis e atom eir No sc rre bestanci. em onsi tanc wosubs part some substa . e unite to mak nt recula th And ar atom of oxy o s salt. He asse Ch ap te rt h the icals.w erd all of th predict th n t. 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. 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. as Pie d to illy disc en and thus. drogen n combnd one olBut Dalton v I . but Ni measures of ree tha ctly umes tance. Th . as in the larger times. He wei t six e three of r he combined gen two ghsance . at and y one ex sug ina didn’t lik there is onl his beight. ar t a ho s what. the degree but on quan the iplied by traction. 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. comb that p 50 measures make Nitric arti e Mind ined n will take m. 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. 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. atomwo. 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. chem e. onnec . And y body mult of “ 00 mg ’s active ight of an we r. 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. asures to furt cles ge of S me Alto m for ato h cien e. wou . th a few greaided know b t o t i Th le huma ans of kers. since y a y ul to go aroundd of inh as h twos. a they o ac e ratios ar the s e n why d mult ervatio combi next s though thes nts with iple ned. 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. of n of tep s experime w ific. 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. . sumin te laini emai were d e pros. 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. exa ferent vol (STP). For ins of hydrogen number rat te with one small wholeoxygen uni is roughly io s of weight rat two volume ber ). if box ) p ed r lts had st . 1605 and 10 mass. 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.. basi er exp make up ce w Nitrous Oxid small number to form Ni e very l c as r 0 measures t. dif ios. pa rog ub an e of th e part f propo s with vealed a certain one to one form. ato trous gas. but the of hydr en. Jo ox.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.ho bega of hn D w they proport mass. th erent spec on s o yo e behi . Gay-Lu substances Ame a for all s. 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. gues single ato e si nd sha mogheou itched en sw cals mg erent base sometimes B. the not consis kiight aoxide. like riosThe t s u h e bu ed nt aro e…or ssac’ tanc cover s. tthe s that. th e differen s. 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 . er. matter. 100 cept Now tha to produce For exampl t th of Oxygen constant. f two turall would imply B co B had theory of substance thatash . bases. d? ed th gen. And s n tly c u and no mor oug t w tends . i s one base e For exampl of hydrogen. eri t y in theroexp of a allerts sort ith eanever h they l combinati d fina e. The ygen. and all e laws xperime to be tivered. could conco ca . as far as ms of substa hemi he sam a the acids s in.. Gay the same. nd. they ar tion laws ore how matter ead . st. Ae d. tly vari her with ve no tios. 7 . t Doesn’ s! rk it wo 7 So many words. quest.Then I continued my studies. potseph oPrine Jo assi mb ou s nd 1 rather nast ine t to l A um n we wi 000 l also isnd. 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. 5Given th ty years it s o . a molecules ume of ine est vol -Lussac’s oxy tion om pla g e that. . c ize nce acid . 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. acidy tor 10 (con . So little time. 7 ferent substance will ze pa pe. 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. 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. humbled by the medium and infected by the desire to put more big ideas into pictures. And r salt. 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. icltrue that able ratios ha It is es. ma ate) certain su Su gf b e ac 577 s in which nce. prov me ve y s ea span of ! ts mo d. tOththi occupied. or 200 ratios. Cered uld sten es. in that comb h.

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

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

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

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

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. 12 . one of them martial art). great stuff! With your drawing talent and my brains and sense of humor.. This was my first memoir. Always investigating my own connection with nature. It put me in such a mood. I walked around with a very heavy feeling of just how OLD I was. “Wow.” Um. I wanted to write a cartoon about my relationship to animals. my life as a cat.. Though barely in my twenties. This dream ended the day I watched my horse’s shoulder get stitched back on after she wandered through a barbed-wire fence..) I had seen this great Swedish movie called My Life as a Dog. even though I’d already met and lost my greatest love—it felt like my life had yet to begin. which had compounded year after year. yeah. (Relax. even though I was working two jobs and starting my lifelong business. I had already had so many interesting and confounding experiences in my life. 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. which had been so important to me a child I wanted to grow up to be a vet..we could really go places. about a boy who moves around from home to home and nothing seems to make much sense.) In so many ways.six true stories Or. that story’s not in this cartoon. It felt like I was just standing still. 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. (We never went anywhere.

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

16 . cell phones and satellite radio. the eerie floating mountains on a hot day. which seems to have ended with my generation. After a final line of Rock me gently. I popped the only 8-track tape I owned in the player. I made this trip many times. a cold snap was keeping the western states well below freezing. but always with regard for the emptiness of the Great Basin. and for all the profound empty spaces of Earth. For the rest of the day. 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. halfway through my college career. rock me sl-l-low-l-ly. I have a lot of different radio stations in my head. (After that there were portable DVDs. The cinematic sweep of the sparse desert. The January day I drove the eight-hour stretch of America between Salt Lake City and Reno. a tradition for lone travelers since traveling began. I had found it at a garage sale. 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.and a few years later found its way into this story. I was serenaded by Solid Gold Hits for a few miles.) Fortunately.. never as uncomfortably as the first. the only broadcast I could enjoy was the stream of my own thoughts.. then the music slowed and the pitch went down.. I moved to the West Coast to start a new life. and the comforting presence of the giant cowboy at the casino in Wendover became part of my own internal landscape.

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

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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

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31 .

32 .

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

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

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

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

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

Afterthoughts 65 .

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

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

And everything I’ve ever written or drawn or painted can fit on a single tiny silicon chip. in the future. No more rubber cement ($3.$1500 (plus $600 for a laser printer). I never have to leave the house.. in a virtual world where they took up no space. I caved in to the excitement. (Oh. he’d probably have tossed his natty scarf over his shoulder and coughed politely. I could now save tens. then turned his back and started banging on his scratcherthings.. that my comics are being seen as movies that readers watch on the inside of their eyelids from the comfort of their own brains.well.. 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.. Including this whole book. The Rapidographs® can stay safe and dry and unused on their way to becoming antiques.. 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. say. some day (I expect I’ll be able to get email in the world beyond by then). 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). 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. And I’ll also hope they’re singing along. maybe hundreds of dollars by not buying Letraset® rub-off type! Then they invented scanners ($350). that his steel etchings could be found. the tilting artist’s desk is gone forever. If you’d told. Gustave Doré®.. and now that there’s email and FTP. resentfully. I’ll pat my dream horse and thank the atomic theory and wish I’d written something more useful. And if you tell me.50)! Hello Photoshop® ($600) and Pagemaker® ($300). 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. 68 .

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

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