FEATURED ARTIST – Brian Ness
STORY by Robert P.
In the second grade . . .
Chris, a new kid at school, didn’t have many friends. Neither did I. We first met on the swings at recess. I don’t know why he talked to me; most boys didn’t. I don’t remember what we talked about, but day after day, he kept hanging around. I couldn’t understand why he liked me. Maybe, I thought, it was because he really liked the swings, or maybe it was because I knew songs with cuss words in them. Or maybe it was just because I was the only kid who would talk back to him. Whatever the reason, we became fast ‘recess buddies.’ I had no complaints, even though we didn’t have much in common; I had a friend to talk, laugh, and play with me. Every day, we would start recess by the swings and move on to some new adventure. One day, our friendship came to a fast and decisive close.
We were playing with what we called ‘helicopters’ — the seeds of a maple tree that spin like helicopters’ blades as they fall. It was a windy day, and some of the helicopters were taking flight and traveling further than we could have imagined before dropping to the ground. As Chris and I witnessed this phenomenon, we took this as a sort of challenge and spent the remainder of that day’s recess attempting to make maple helicopters fly from one end of the playground to the other. Just when the bell rang to signal the end of recess and call us inside, we decided to release one more helicopter on the wind. We watched intently to see where it would land, and to our amazement, it only flew higher. The helicopter was carried up over the trees and into the sky, where it disappeared in the distance. This was by far the most exciting recess adventure we’d ever had, and we were both jumping up and down and screaming for joy. The excitement overwhelmed me, and I grabbed Chris by the shoulders and embraced him. I felt something in that moment, something I had perhaps never felt before. It was a powerful connection in which I truly felt a sense of common experience and emotion. My attraction to him was so strong that I held him to me for as long as I could. When I pulled away, it was clear to me from the look on his face that he did not feel the same way. We were in northeast Ohio, and at our age, boys just did not hug each other like that. In his eyes I saw bewilderment tinged with fright. He could not understand what had just happened or what that hug meant to me. That was the last recess we ever spent together.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Brian Ness’s stories and illustrations are interested in exploring gender, specifically related to the effeminate, the de-masculinized, and the fabulous. His images reside somewhere between the present and the Victorian, where many of our current ideas of men and women were formulated, and whose children’s literature inverts, scares, and romanticizes the world in which it resides. He produces a quarterly zine called Kitten Punch, about the goings-on at a theme park/commune for sissies, called Dandyland. He received the 2007 Schochet Award for Excellence in GLBT Studies for his comic book/coloring book, BJ’s Unfabulous Christmas, and recently finished his first graphic novella, Molly Bottom. He lives and works in Minneapolis. You can follow his work at greetingsfromdandyland.blogspot.com.
Here are two more samples of Brian’s work:
Interested in being a Featured Artist? Just let me know!