Strange, Familiar Seas

Not every night, but most nights, the English writer Philip Hoare gets into the sea.

I know this because he tweets about it. Not every night, but most nights. A brief, poetic, timestamped dispatch from the waves.

I read Hoare’s book Risingtidefallingstar toward the end of 2018 and fell hopelessly in love. It’s a sweeping voyage through various coastal regions, literary lives, and strange creatures of the sea. It defies categorization—feels tidal rather than textual. (Just describing the book makes me realize that it shares many qualities with Always Coming Home, which should hardly come as a surprise at this point.)

When I followed Hoare on Twitter, I started seeing these fleeting messages in my feed. The nature of the platform meant that it took me a while to realize how consistently they cropped up, but when I noticed, it shifted something.

In 2019, I made a pact with myself after a week by a lake on an island in Canada: if I find myself near a body of water and it is even remotely possible for me to get into it, I must get into it.1 I’ve since plunged into frigid waves on the Oregon coast, silky river waters of the Columbia Gorge, and the hidden shock of a creek in my hometown of Ojai, California.

Often, as I’m sprinting, screaming across the wide expanse of sand toward the breakers, or furtively scrambling out of my clothes in the underbrush, I think of Hoare’s constant devotion to being where he feels most alive. Most held.

It’s not even about whether or not he swims every night, or what time he goes (does the man ever sleep? Unclear), or what the sky is doing on that particular Tuesday. It’s just a reminder that there is a person who embodies his affection for the sea so fully and faithfully that he’s out there, in the water, baptized night after night.

Whatever Hoare writes next, I’ll probably love it. But my primary interest isn’t his creative output. The thing I want to know is whether he is still himself, and as far as I can tell plunging bodily into the ocean on a near-nightly basis is the backbone of his existence.

I’ve chewed on the idea of object permanence a lot this year—dug into my mistrust of fleeting social media feedback, questioned how online creators can feel secure in taking leaves of absence, and wondered at what it is about our work that truly endures. Hoare makes me consider relocating the idea of permanence from deliverables like books and art and films to the substrates of our creative practices; these undercurrents of selfhood.

That is the thing I want to celebrate and support.

1. Even having trod on a stingray and endured unimaginable agony two months after taking said vow, I still believe it to be sound.

New Comic: Who IS Wonder Woman, Anyway?

Greetings, friends! I’ve got a new comic in the world!

There’s a lot of talk about Wonder Woman in the world right now, thanks to the new film about her opening this weekend, but who is she really? You can head over to The Nib today to read all about her history as a feminist icon, patriotic symbol, and modern warrior thanks to writer Sarah Mirk, colorist Joey Weiser, and myself! I’m really pleased with the final result of our efforts.

If you dig these comics, you can keep ’em coming by supporting my work on Patreon. (And biggest thanks to those of you who do so already!)

Use your strength for good,

Lucy

New Comic: Mappin’ the Floor

Hi friends!

It’s been a busy week here on the island of O‘ahu. After completing our three-week ocean crossing aboard R/V Falkor last Monday at 8:30am, the ship immediately went into prep mode for a host of different events to help promote the results of our cruise. Chief among these was getting the gallery show at The ARTS at Marks Garage open, which meant getting my land legs back as quick as I could in order to hang all my completed pages from the comic I’d just drawn at sea.

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The opening party on Friday night was a truly fantastic time, and I’m so grateful to everyone who came out. It was also Chinese New Year, so we had a visit from some dragons!

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Photo: SOI

If you happen to be in Honolulu, the show is up through February 3rd, and features all the original artwork from my comic and work from all the other Artist-at-Sea participants from the last three years. There’s painting, animation, fiber arts, music, and (my personal favorite) A KNOT BOARD MADE OF ETHERNET CABLE.

Ethernet Knotboard by Colleen Peters
Ethernet Knotboard by Lead Technician Colleen Peters (who supported Baggywrinkles on Kickstarter and led to my joining Falkor in the first place!)

My inner fancywork nerd is screaming with glee.

SO: now that all that’s over, and I’ve taught a variety of classes to high schoolers and kindergarteners at local schools, it’s time to release the finished comic online. CUE TRUMPETS:

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You can read the entire comic and learn all about multibeam mapping right here, and the PDF is free to download on Gumroad (just enter $0 at checkout and you’ll be able to download it without paying a dime). In keeping with Schmidt Ocean Institute’s open sharing of information policy, the comic is licensed under Creative Commons Non-Commercial/Attribution, so you can print it, color it, share it—whatever you want, as long as you aren’t turning a profit and you provide credit to the original source.

Physical copies of the comic will be available in the next few months. If you’d like to be first in line to know when that happens, you can sign up for my email list here (I send out updates once a month).

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Thanks, as always, to my stalwart supporters on Patreon, who directly enable me to take these trips and bring back educational comics for you all to read and enjoy.