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Blowing Smoke


Here’s the last of the collaborative pieces I wrote for the Tall Tales show that did not also make it into the Call & Response book. As I mentioned earlier, Three Faces of Frustration wasn’t in the book because I hadn’t resolved the piece prior to our print deadline. In this case, though, Blowing Smoke (pictured below) was the last drawing that John gave me to write a companion piece for, and I knew that I wouldn’t have time to complete my part in the collaboration for print.

This one required a few passes and variations before I was happy with the overall feel, but the concept for it came pretty quickly. It started off rather loose, with the same general flow as in the final version offered below, but then I embellished and tightened … and I lost the voice in that process. I ended up backtracking a lot to retain the original energy, but I had to carefully move forward on clarifying what was being said to avoid killing the whole thing again.

Blowing Smoke

Blowing Smoke –

I should give up smoking. I should give up a lot of things. Drinking. The lottery. Watching too much TV. And there’s this thing I do with my fingers that makes a popping sound. I don’t do it on purpose; it just happens. That makes it hard to stop. Would you like to hear it? No, I didn’t think so. Most people find it annoying.

could quit smoking, but I like it too much—the taste, and the feel, and the smell. I know it’s a dangerous habit. So is driving a car. So are a lot of things we do, things not against the law. Nature is especially deadly, but no one’s made nature illegal. And shopping—more people die on Black Friday than from shark attacks every year. At least cigarettes are enjoyable. Better than holiday trampling or Jaws.

Most of my vices don’t affect others. Who cares if I watch TV? But that knuckle noise, I admit that one’s bad. I admit a loss of control. If I do it, just slap me. Maybe that’s the trick? You could follow me around and hit me if I fiddle with my fingers. I’d prefer you didn’t hit me for smoking, though. You’d be hitting me all day long.

Someday I’ll quit my bad habits. Someday I’ll decide to stop. It isn’t that hard, really. I can do it whenever I want.

I approached this piece from the perspective of someone who is fooling himself about his own behavior. (I don’t actually smoke, either.) That angle was inspired by John’s title, which suggested a bit of baloney. So I took the literal interpretation and combined it with the metaphorical to figure out who this guy might be. It appears to be about smoking, but it could really be about so many things …


From → Art, Books

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