Neal Draws Comics: That was then, this is now

30 September 2012 by 26 Comments

I remember as a kid the way I would line up all of my stuffed animals in my bed with me. Of course I had a favorite, but I wasn’t going to let any of the others know that. That would just be cruel. I’m sure my parents felt much the same about all of their kids. Or maybe they disliked us all equally, it’s hard to say. (I joke, mom, I joke.)

As I look around my room now, books have replaced raggedy teddy bears and bunnies with spittle-soaked ears. Lots and lots of books. As with the stuffed animals, my favorites are ripped and dog-eared from years of use. The accumulation of caresses — mostly gentle, but sometimes furious at the suspenseful parts — have left smudged pages and polished spots on covers. And there are a few with broken bindings where they impacted walls, only to be contritely scooped up and finished.

And there’s the food. I know, it’s gross. But there are some books on my shelf that I can open and recall very distinctly what I was eating at the time, because there are still little crumbs in the binding. You try to shake them out, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do, at least until you get home and start excavating with an ice pick. And by then you’ve forgotten. Hello, Wheat Thins on page 127. Nice to see you again, balsamic vinegar drops on page 273. We can see similar signs, usually crusty applesauce or prune juice stains, on the disease-ridden bunny that my toddler drags around with her everywhere. Seriously, that bunny looks like it has Ebola.

Books are my comfort objects now. I rarely go anywhere without a book tucked under one arm or stashed in my backpack. With a good book on hand, suddenly every traumatic event evens out a little. Car broke down on the freeway? No biggie. I’ll just read All the Pretty Horses until the tow truck gets here. Another snow delay at the airport? That’s another hundred pages of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Just saw someone flattened by a falling airplane engine? Hey, life happens. Back to Harry Potter.

And when I go to sleep at night, there’s nothing more comforting than my huge extended family of books watching over me, encircling me, imbuing my sleep with the wild ruminations and explorations of the greatest and craziest. Sometimes there are nightmares (Kafka, I’m looking at you), but the dreams make everything else worth it.

26 thoughts on “Neal Draws Comics: That was then, this is now

  1. You’re not the only one, books are my big comfort item too. I generally always have one book on my person and at least ten in my car, which lead to it earning the name “The Ghetto Bookmobile”

  2. I carry a book with me pretty much everywhere, too, except the grocery store, but I don’t know that I would call books a comfort object for me. I’m not sure, by the general definition of “comfort object,” I have one. Maybe, it’s my computer. I don’t carry it around with me, though.

    • Best analogy I can come up with, Andrew, is the “security blanket” analogy. Some kids throw a fit if they don’t have it… which it’s unlikely any of us do (I think?), but more likely it’s something that makes me feel more “complete,” and when I finally find it or return to it, it makes me sigh in relief. But that’s just me.

      In the book “The Giver,” kids are institutionally allowed comfort objects up until a certain age, and then their bunnies or teddy bears are taken away.

      I think I agree about the computer, though. I’ve got more than one comfort object.

    • Can I admit that I don’t often read in bed without you guys thinking I’m some sort of weirdo? If I’m ready for bed, I’m asleep soon after I hit the pillow. Falling asleep is one of my most favorite things, I don’t like to complicate it with a bunch of pre-sleep activities (minus, erm, bed activities).

      • I can’t fall asleep if I don’t have a book. Seriously. I think I’m tired so I’ll just go to bed, but then two hours later, I’m still lying there awake because too many thoughts.

        It helps me focus on something other than what I have going on, and I generally don’t read for more than 10-15 minutes before I’m drowsing.

  3. What an interesting concept! I wonder how much money a psychiatrist could make off of this. . . people switching from an obsession (where everything is better) with stuffed animals to books. I have to say, I’m the same way, but I don’t remember what I was eating at the time! :)

  4. I’m with you on the food. I’ve got my own little Mis En Place routine for sitting down for some extended reading time. Gotta have my drink (usually wine), gotta have my food (everything), and usually gotta have my music. I will fight anyone trying to take me away from my reading trifecta!

    • That does sound pretty good. In the last few years, I’ve had to get used to reading while on baby/toddler duty, which rarely has the feel of a spa treatment. I read Moby-Dick over a few weeks while pushing my daughter in a stroller in the heat of summer, back and forth along a route near school. But I do dream of lounging on luxury bedsheets in a beach house overlooking the ocean crashing over rocks below. I’m gonna daydream about that for a little bit now.

  5. Wow. I would hug this post if I could. Boys were afraid of making their stuffed animals jealous too? God how I wish I had known this back in the day. All the torment and torture I could have reeked (reaped?)

    Unlike my old crusty stuffed animals, I am not afraid to profess my love of certain books and authors. Where I was worried that my plushies would come to life and smother me in my sleep as a little girl if I played favorites, I would KILL for my books to come to life!! Bring it on Saramago, do your worst! Cormac McCarthy, come ‘n get it!!

    Isn’t that every bibliophile’s dream?!!

    • I had several teddy bears, two rabbits, and a couple others besides. But! I also contracted to serve for a year with the military, so I’m still manly, right?! Just kidding. I mean, I did spend a year in the reserve officer training corps; I just don’t care much about proving my manliness.

      It adds an interesting twist to keep your animals close and also fear that they’ll smother you if you slip up. A kinda sad, creepy twist.

  6. So Calvin and Hobbes was right — there is such a thing as Kafka dreams! Do goodnight kisses keep them at bay?

    And in other news, I was apparently deep in some mental vortex battling robot dinosaurs with my trusty team of flying unicorns when you wrote this post. Hence, the delayed response. ^_^;;

Talk to us!

Get Us In Your Inbox

Hot Discussions

%d bloggers like this: