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Star Wars Tarot: Ace of Staves

One of the first things I noticed about the Rider-Waite Ace of Wands card is how much the wand resembles a penis with a leaf growing out of it. This would make my inner-twelve-year-old giggle, which isn’t a very suppressed part of myself. A friend called it “The Ace of Dickweeds”. I mean, its made out of wood!

 

But since we’re on the subject of phallic symbols, let’s talk about The Sword again. The sword was the first known weapon specifically created to kill another human being. It cuts down. It destroys. It destroys lies with truth and logic. It upholds justice with force, or in the case of the Jedi, THE Force. It is severe masculinity. Remember Space Balls when they had their lightsaber fight? It was pretty much a contest of whose Schwartz were bigger. Who was a more man? Who was dominant? Who had a bigger dick?

 

The Staff, or Wand, isn’t a tool of destruction (at least that’s not its main use). If you put some bristles at the end of it, you can make a brush. And the brush can paint a beautiful masterpiece or put a coat of paint on a newly constructed house. And that home is made out of Staves or staffs or wood refined for human use. Where Swords are the masculine’s severity, Staves are its mercy. It creates, rather than destroys. It builds up, rather than takes apart.

 

The staff is also associated with fire. You can burn wood. Yes, fire is destructive, but if used properly, you can make a good meal, a porceline plate, even a sword. Unlike the element of air, which is assoiated with thoughts and logic, fire is associated with creativity, passion, intuition, excitement, and spirtuality. It can be a light of inspiration, the burning one feels for those they want to kill, those they want to make passionate love to, or for those in complex relationships, both. It can be the Bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under. Or it could be the cross that Christ died on, a symbol of faith. Both trees gave light to both men.

 

The Tuskin Riders are a firey people, wouldn’t you agree? The first time we see one, it attacked Luke Skywalker, holding its Staff over its head. Yelling in rage like a cross between a wild animal and a broken tuba. Do you think you can logically talk your way out of an attack by Sand People? They’re savages! Not like the noble savages of the Wookie or the adorable savages of the Ewoks. They kidnapped and tortured Darth Vader’s mom. They didn’t have a reason, either because they’re that savage or that under developed. They are more like a natural force than a band of nomadic people. Stormtroopers tried to frame them by destroying the Jawa transporter. An easy scapegoat because you know they’ve attacked Jawas before. They randomly shoot Pod Racers. And most importantly, their savagery ignited Anakin’s hate and anger and pushed him ever so closer to the Dark Side of the Force.

 

The design of this card is based on that first time you see a Sand Person but I added distant smoke to further emphasize the wild and firery personality of the Tuskin Raiders.

 

But enough of Sand People. We can find Staves among the Ewoks and the Wookies. They represent another side of the Staves. These creatures CAN be reasoned with. Your intuition and passion and creativity can be an ally and be used to bring down the Dark Side or the evil Empire. It can help you take down your own personal Dark Side… or as C.G. Jung would call it, your Shadow. Actually, all the tarot cards can help do that, even the scarey looking ones.

 

When I see this card in a reading, it means that your intuition or creativity of fire is just below the surface ready to erupt. Its a plant, the North American Dickweed, just about to grow out of the ground. Its a reset buton. Your will and faith and sense of adventure are renewed. And its hard to say what that really means. Because the Staves don’t represent things, but how things are done.

 

May The Force Be With You.

A Break-up Letter to San Diego Comic Con

Dear San Diego Comic Con,

When I first met you, I just graduated from high school. You were so cool. We would hang out all day and talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. But around that time, you also started to hanging out with the popular kids. They were all wrong for you. They didn’t really care about you or comics. They just wanted to use you. Your attitude started to change. You got all conceited. I mean, you were still cool, even sexy with all that cosplay and sh!t. We still had some good times!

Remember that booth we rented? Or that table? Remember that magical night we watched Warren Ellis talk? Or that Tenacious D concert? Or when I was nominated for that award?! Or remember just simply, staying up late watching movies and cartoons? You always managed to blow my mind and show me something beautiful and new. You always seemed to inspire my creativity and my soul.

Those were good times, San Diego Comic Con. They were great, in fact. Those were times that, more than anything, I wanted to be inside you. And I wanted to stay inside you for a long long time. But now, everyone’s inside you: the press, Hollywood, people who’ve never even read a comic book. We just don’t have that special connection anymore and I can’t imagine sharing you like that.

Now I hear that you’ve become a Goldigger lately so more people can be inside you. So more people can use you and throw money at you. You’ve lost sight at what’s important, San Diego Comic Con. It sickens me a bit, but I’m not here to judge you. You’ve meant so much in my life: those fourteen or fifteen years we spent with each other are priceless.

The sad thing is, most of those people, those new people in your life, will never understand you like I do. Most of those people don’t love you like I do. They just want to have their way with you, maybe for the weekend or just one day, but I wanted you all the time. If I had you all year long, I’d be a very happy man.

It’s been over between us for a while now. Ever since that argument we had at the Portfolio Review section in 2010. What the f#ck were you thinking!?

Anyway please, please, San Diego Comic Con, please have some dignity! Or at least hold onto the dignity that you have left. You deserve so much better. You used to be so smart and charming, but now its like all of your intelligence has left the room.  {You see, that was a metaphor for all the smart and interesting panel discussions like the Comic Arts Conference or Spirituality in Comics… which was a panel discussion I was on one year…. its a metaphor for those types of events being moved to the Marriott instead of staying in the Convention Center.}

Anyway, I’ve been seeing other conventions. I started seeing Comikaze, probably because we live in the same neighborhood. Although we don’t have as long as a history like you and I. WonderCon Anaheim is really cool, but I had to admit, the first time we met, it was really rocky and the parking sucks because there’s that weird cheerleader thing going on. What’s up with that? AnimeExpo is awfully cute, and you know I have that thing for the Japanese, but… I never had deep, thoughtful, inspiring moments with AnimeExpo like I had with you.

I’ve never had a convention like you before and I’ll never have a convention like you again.

Here’s Looking At You Kid,
—Elan’
PS. But if I’m ever nominated for an Eisner Award again… I. will. SO. WRECK YOU!

—and you’d be all like, “say my name! say my name!” and I’d be like, “that’s how you LIKE it you naughty naughty convention!” And I wouldn’t give a f#ck whose watching!

Originally published here.

An Excerpt From That Novel I’ll Never Finish: Red Line

Last week, I took the Red Line, the subway here in Los Angeles, to Downtown. The train was filled with neutral, silent faces except for a father and his three very young children. He sang to them songs, the type you’d learn in Pre-school and Kindergarden. He kept them entertained as a means to keep them seated. A lesser man would yell at them and bark commands, but he sang to them and made them laugh. He made sure they were safe and behaved.

 

So, of course, I chose the empty seat across from him.

 

The father noticed my bag. My bag is one of a kind. It is an ornate and metallic Tibetan scroll holder attached to an East German Map bag. He pointed at it and told his kids that that’s the magic scroll from Kung Fu Panda. The children were in awe.

 

The train’s speakers announced that my stop, 7th & Metro, was coming up. So I showed the kids the metallic scroll holder. They asked to touch it and I let them. It is a mysterious looking thing that I traveled as far as Echo Park to attain it. I have two of them, each one cost me about forty bucks. Although I’ve seen some on eBay selling at 80.

Anyway, the kids wanted to see what was inside. I opened the cover and all there was were pencils and pens. “This is magic.” I whispered. The kids looked at me with confusion. “This is real magic. I use these to control words and pictures. Kings have ruled with art and pictures. And those kings have been brought down with words. Master the words that come out of your mouth, your heart, and the ones you craft with your pen. Ask yourself what the pictures are telling you, or more likely, what they’re selling you. Go to school, and sharpen your tongue like you sharpen a fine and dangerous weapon. Study art and understand the designed world. For some day, you may bring down a corrupt king or become a just one.”

 

My stop came up and the doors slid open. Instinctively, I threw a smoke bomb onto the floor and disappeared from the three children and their father. As I left, like a ghost, I said, “You’re an awesome dad!”

True story.

Theory of Everything Comics on Instagram!

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Hey guys,

I know its been a while since I’ve posted anything up, but I have been fixing up the website a bit and normal day job stuff. Also my phone broke. But the good news is I got a new one and this one can support Instagram. So follow me on Instagram to see random sketches from my sketchbook. Currently, I’m stuck in Jury Duty and its mainly drawings of people sitting still.

http://instagram.com/toecomics

Please give to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Heiyan)

Typhoon Heiyan (Yolanda)

Three weeks ago, a 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol, Philippines, the island my mother and much of my family is from. Over the weekend, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit much of the Philippines. I’ve heard that a Tropical Depression is forming and another typhoon may hit the Philippines.

For the fans of my work, I ask you to donate whatever money you can for the relief efforts.

http://www.abscbnfoundation.org

http://www.redcross.org.ph/donate

 

A lot of people are now homeless and clean water will be hard to get. Usually in post-disaster situations, its easy for people to get sick. Especially for the children and elderly.

Although the Red Cross is a reputable and experienced organization when it comes to disasters, the ABS/CBN Foundation is part of a news organization and have better information of where help needs to go first. If you have friends or family or just have an affinity to other countries that are in Typhoon Haiyan’s path, then please donate money to them instead or, if you don’t mind your kids getting a $20 toy rather than a $200 toy this Christmas, give money to as many countries as you can.

Thank you.

The Art of Poker Playing Cards: A Peek at Beautiful Card Designs From the Past to the Present

Poker has been around for about 200 years, but it has only managed to capture the cultural zeitgeist in the past ten years or so. Nowadays, you can find amateur poker players almost anywhere in the world. Playing with them has been made even easier thanks to the Internet. There’s nothing quite like winning while playing at a real live poker table, though.

If you want to play poker in a live setting, you need cards. Playing cards have always been a pretty ubiquitous household item but the poker boom has made them even more in demand over the last ten years or so. The boom has also made the market more open to custom and special edition card decks. The US Playing Card Company, for example, has rolled out more than a few beautifully designed decks over the last few years. Even partypoker, the World Poker Tour’s major sponsor, has its own branded deck.

There’s a whole lot of history behind the art of playing cards. The town of Altenburg in Germany has one of the most extensive card manufacturing histories in the world. Cards are serious business in Altenburg, and there’s even a playing card museum in town to prove it. The museum contains everything from cards that are hundreds of years old to the plates and presses used to print them.

The cards available today aren’t slouches, either. In fact, advances in technology have allowed designers to make even more beautiful decks. Here are a few:

Infinity Playing Cards by Ellusionist – This deck was made with illusionists in mind. Apparently, the USPCC even thought the design was impossible to accomplish at first. It includes full custom court cards, Ace, Pips, and face cards. The deck comes in a tuck box.

Limited Edition Playing Cards by Hydro74 – This custom deck is a mish-mash of geek icons highlighting the work of Hydro74. The Star Wars and Transformers franchises are represented alongside some beautifully detailed artwork of skulls, masks, and animals. Heck, there’s even a robot lion from Voltron in the set. Hydro74 also made five custom poker chips to go along with the deck.

Custom Cards by Bicycle – If you’re a designer yourself, you can actually turn your playing card designs into reality thanks to USPCC’s custom card division. There’s a minimum order of 2,500 decks, though. If you just want to check out some good-looking decks, they have a lot of those, too. A couple of favorites are the Alchemy England and Club Tattoo decks.

The Jedi Code and Jediism

 

Some time ago, I was making my own Tarot cards according to my own personal archetypes. I never finished it.  But a lot of Star Wars themes came up. I thought I’d return to the project as a little hobby and just let it be a Star Wars deck. I also thought it might be interesting to incorporate ideas from Jediism, so I did a bit of research on this movement. (I use the term “movement” because to some it is a philosophy, a religion, the equivalent to a masonic lodge, or a well-played prank.) For some, it is a fun excuse to meditate and practice fencing. For others it seems a bit too serious.

But what I’m most attracted to is how Jediism can be a doorway to the works of Joseph Campbell or Carl Jung, chivalry and comparative religion. It may be a way for people to reconnect with their family’s religion, find one’s own path and to find respect and beauty in other people’s traditions. A discipline outside of school or church to learn about the many traditions that influenced the Star Wars movie, and at the same time, keep a humbling sense of humor.

C’mon, if you call yourself a Jedi you’re either crazy or have a great sense of humor. And if you’re getting all defensive and angry because people are laughing at you because you’re a Jedi, then you’re probably an awful Jedi. But it is still a noble thing to try to live your life according to such a great and noble order. Even if that order was fictional.

According to Wookiepedia this is one of the versions of the Jedi Code:

 

There is no emotion, there is peace.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

(There is no chaos, there is harmony.)*

There is no death, there is the Force.

—The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)

 

*This line is sometimes removed.

I chose this version because it sounds much more Zen than the other. It sounds like something Yoda would say and something a Jedi would need to meditate on.– “What do you mean there are no emotions? I’m feeling emotions all the time!”

I can’t help but put my two cents into this since my work seems to be a mixture of pop-culture and religion.


There is no emotion, there is peace.

To me, this sounds a lot like the Buddhist view of the mind. That the mind is naturally peaceful and our thoughts and emotions are the disturbance, like momentary ripples on a pond’s surface. In a lot of Buddhist texts, you’ll find terms like, “there is no self”. Part of it is that its making arguments against the competing philosophies of the time, like Hinduism. But another part of it is it’s like saying the orange peel isn’t the important thing, its the entire orange. So saying that there “is no emotion” would be more like saying emotion is the illusion. Emotion is the surface of peace. Understand your emotions, don’t give importance to your emotions. And the natural path to that is peace.

Of course, if this makes you emotional and frustrated, then you’re doing it wrong.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

 I’m reminded of the Taoist sage or Zen monk, or better yet, the archetypal Fool. There is a sort of wisdom to foolishness. For example, when children learn a new language, they just absorb everything. They absorb grammar and tenses and structure without question. When an adult learns a new language they will ask why its spelled this way and not that way and why adjectives have to come before a noun and not after and etc, etc. The lack of knowledge is the first step to knowledge. Ignorance is part of knowledge, not its opposite.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

This is similar to the first line. But “emotion” seems to be the “what” . “Passion” is more like the “how” or the “why”. Perhaps this is similar to Wu-Wei. Instead of having the passion and drive and motive to do something, just let that go and do it. Passion will dissolve into the automatic groove or the action itself.

I have personally found something like this going on when I draw or work .  But when you really get into it, really get focused, something melts away. And you’re just in the flow of things. Although there is a lot going on, at the heart of it is serenity.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

A wise man once said, “Chaos is order according to God.” Everyday, someone somewhere is dying in a horrible way. The weather forecast doesn’t match with the weather. Something random happens. But there might be something bigger going on here. How many people have you heard of who were devastated because they got dumped or cheated on and now they’re happily married with kids? Or how many rich people were rock-bottom poor? How many organizations dedicated to peace and helping people come out of war? I do think there is a plan. You might not like it. It might not benefit you. But there is a plan. Everything is as it should be, right now, at this moment, if you like it or not.

There is no death, there is the Force.

We’ve all seen the Star Wars movies where Alec Guinness dies and now he’s a glowing blue ghost, guiding Luke on his path. In many traditions, death isn’t the end. I’m not going to get too into the concept of the After-Life. In the Christian-Judeo-Islamic system, you retain your ego. In Buddhism, your ego wasn’t really you. But in both cases, the most important part of you moves on.

Death is part of the Force. Death is an illusion of the Force. And the Force is the essence and intelligence of life.

Okay, maybe you don’t believe in an After-Life. Let’s say that there were no sequels and New Hope was the only Star Wars movie ever. Pretend we never saw Alec Guiness’s ghost. Obi Wan was a voice in the back of Luke’s head. He was part of Luke’s superego.

Do you have a dead relative who was close to you? Do you think, “I did this because if Gampa was alive today, I would make him so proud”? In this way, the dead are not dead and they have a life, they aren’t “a-live”, but have “a life” in us. And when we die, we will have a life in others, and so on and so on. There is no death. The love and memory of others is the Force.

Doesn’t the Force create inter-connectedness according to Yoda?

Life creates it, makes it grow. It’s energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere! Yes, even between this land and that ship!

–Master Yoda

So beyond the illusion of Death, the illusion of separation, you will find the Force.

* * * * *

Basically, I don’t see Jediism as denying or negating emotion, ignorance, passion, chaos or death. Actually its doing the opposite. It is accepting these things, understanding these things in order to find peace, knowledge, serenity, harmony and the divine. (You can call it “The Force” if you want to.) And it takes a lot of discipline to do this. A lot of… force.

So, as someone who regards comparative religion as a hobby and lifestyle, as someone who has felt spiritually comfortable in several places of worship (San Diego Comic Con is included), as someone who has hung out with clergyman of different faiths (usually alcohol is involved) and was elated when I got the Imperial Shuttle for Christmas– that’s my two cents about the Jedi Code.

…and if I did join a Jedi Order, my Jedi name would be Quezon Parsec.

–May the Force Be With You

Happy Birthday Jack Kirby

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This is me at Jack Kirby’s grave. Me and a friend decided to visit one day. We each sipped gin from a flask. I poured a bit on the ground to share. And we said our “thank you”s like the rock star that he is.

If I knew what was his favorite drink was, I would’ve brought him some… and a cigar.

Thank you Jack. Thank you for all your creations and your artwork and how you’ve managed to influence the 21st century.

You are one of my great Creative Saints, and I hope to do good work for my King.

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PopMusings: Superman in Samsara

sam-sa-ra [səmˈsɑːrə] (noun):

1. Hinduism  the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth

2. Buddhism  the transmigration or rebirth of a person

[Sanskrit, literally: a passing through, from sam  altogether + sarati  it runs]

–World English Dictionary

superman_samsara

I feel sorry for Superman. He exists in a universe where he is constantly rewritten, reborn and revamped. First he’s an orphan found by a motorist and raised in an orphanage. Then he has adopted parents, only to be revamped and retold and then adapted for a major motion picture. First he leaps then he flies. His adopted father has a heart attack and all of Kal El’s super powers couldn’t save him.

Of course Superman isn’t aware of any of this. He just lives on without aging. Without growth or evolving. He falls in love with Lois Lane, never to admit that Clark Kent and Superman are the same people. Sure, he’ll eventually marry her, but the universe will just start over again and he will just find himself in another bizzare love triangle between him, Lois Lane and himself.

He will fight Lex Luthor countless times. Lex Luthor: the mad scientist, Lex Luthor: the corporate CEO, Lex Luthor: the President of the United States. Lex Luthor: Gene Hackman.

1127040-superman_facesHe will never die. We won’t let him. He will never escape this kingdom, his imprisoned Malkuth. Here he will always be a god. Here he will always have the same problems. He can’t change. We won’t let him.

For years, fans have complained about his red underwear (something a circus strongman would wear back in the days when Superman was created) and when the artists, writers, and editors decided to get rid of the underwear, fans got upset.

Once, the powers that be and the rulers of his destiny tried to kill him off and replace him. They put him in a crazy energy costume, had him co-star with Kristin Kreuk, never to put on the cape until the very last episode! But fans just wanted the old Superman.

Imagine how annoyed Superman would be if he knew that he was living in an endless circle of profit and entertainment? Immortal, sure, but his archons and stewards would make him relive his most traumatic experiences again and again. — Yes, they are the most character defining experiences — but how many times would he have to go to Pa Kent’s funeral? How many times would he have to come to age and struggle with his alien identity? How many times will he have to run into Kyptonite? Or save the world? How many times will his writers run out of ideas?

He’s stuck in Samsara because its just so damned entertaining for us. I guess that’s his karma.

Just look at other Superheroes. How long has Cyclops been in his 30′s? How many times does he have to watch Jean Grey die and then come back? And then die, and then come back? I’m sure by now, he’s just ACTING sad over the death(s) of his wife. (I mean, Its not cheating if she’s dead.)

Or how about something a bit more controversial like Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern. He has his adventures, disappears for a while, comes back old, and he has a few kids. Then the DC Universe starts up all over again from scratch and now he’s gay!

Now, as long as its written well, there’s nothing wrong with another gay superhero. But you got to think: When this new version of Alan Scott: Green Lantern was a kid, trying to figure out his sexual identity– I wouldn’t be surprised if that fifteen-year-old Alan Scott wished he were straight. Would it be comforting for him to know that in another time and another universe, he WAS straight? …with kids? Would this distress the Green Lantern? I mean, how would you feel if your sexual identity was ultimately in the hands of DC comics editor and chief, Dan DiDio?

2000257_origWesterners often confuse reincarnation for a type of Heaven. They think it would be great to be reborn, maybe have a fresh start, be born into a rich family or be reincarnated into a dolphin.

Well guess what? Dolphins rape each other! Millionaires have crazy million dollar problems, and if you start fresh from your crappy life, you’re more than likely to have a life just as crappy!

Superman can’t change. If there was ever an ending to the Superman mythos, if Superman was put to rest like King Arthur, if everyone wondered ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow’, his universe would just start up all over again.

He will never find liberation because there will always be a new re-telling of the Superman story.

He will never find peace because story always means conflict.

He will neither find inner peace nor peace for the World that he protects.

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