Parasitic Invaders of the Great Lakes

Originally re-published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, January 2, 2006

The things I put myself through for you people! I tell ya…. When I go to draw a comic, I often have to collect pictures of what I’m going to draw. If it’s something I’m familiar with (cereal boxes, Farrah Fawcett posters, gangly-middle-aged-bald white guys), I can draw it right out of my head. But for less familiar items, I like to have reference pictures.

So for this week’s comic I had all sorts of photos of nature’s physical depiction of vile, our friend the sea lamprey, taped all around my drawing board. Sea lampreys are parasitic eel-like things brought to the Great Lakes in the ballast water of ocean-going vessels. They’ve adapted themselves to Michigan lakes and now delight in attaching themselves to game fish, such as trout, and sucking the life out of them. They are black and slimy and have sort of an open wound for a mouth that latches on to flesh and gives death hickys. BLECH!!!

I was okay when I was drawing them; I go into a kind of a zone and see only lines and how I want my drawing to turn out. (I imagine that’s how doctors get through having to examine really disgusting things. I’ll ask next time one them has to look at my feet.) But after walking away from my drawing table and returning, my eyes would fall upon these poor emaciated fish with leechy tubes hanging off of them and my stomach would lurch.

But I don’t want to be too much of a martyr here. Truth is, I have sometimes avoided ideas for comics that I know would send me on searches for repellent creatures that I’d be happy never to view. You haven’t seen a Michael Jackson comic from me lately, have you?

1 Comment »

  1. Auchtoon! » The Canyon of Mackinac… said,

    August 15, 2007 @ 7:37 am

    […] (For more info on what I meant by “invasive species problem,” click here.) […]

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