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War Games

JUNE 19, 2013
1989: a postcard from my young nephew August.
I'm ashamed to say, I never fulfilled his drawing request but it reminded me vividly of my childhood. August just graduated from Dartmouth. I think he's pre-med with an interest in anthropology and social aspects of health-care in the developing world. I wish there were more people like him out there!
My older sister drew horses, the Beatles and, later, the dreamy lads in the Moody Blues. I looked up to my sister. I think I may have gotten some of the art bug from her example.
I still look up to my sister and I'm still learning to draw horses. This is probably because I simply drew battle scenes when I was little. The discipline that went into figuring out a horse was foreign to my excitable boy brain. I went through lots of paper and whatever drawing implements we had (usually cast off pens, dried up markers, crayons and pencils jumbled into a shoe box). What I remember the most was the great sound effects I'd make as I drew. Maybe this was a way of post-processing the comic books I read at the time. Thank goodness my parents never gave me an app for all this!
Now, as I find myself revisiting these childhood themes in my sketchbook and enjoying it, I wonder why this self-contained memory of childhood is vivid and happy.
It's safe to say, it had nothing to do with war, per se. It had everything to do with constructing a moral universe of good & bad where justice prevails. Also, the paper was its own little theater or universe that I got to control. The story was invariably: get the bad guy's tank and blow it up with all the guns and bombs you could muster, The End. Start Over!
Later on, I would add castles  with torture chambers and haunted houses with lots of skeletons to my repertoire (with sound effects too.) Charles Addams and Edward Gorey would have approved. And later still (in the fifth grade after the death of my mother), I developed a scholarly interest in monster movies, building plastic monster models and gruesome Halloween makeup. And I always leapt into my covers at night fearing whatever was under the bed.
All children are hard-wired to master their fears which are many and mighty. It may seem appalling and misguided to some for children to enact and embody the worst humanity has done to its innocent victims. But in a child's imagination there is a sense of proportion that only they can define and own that is derived from such experimentation and play.
Alright. Enough of this. Back to the drawing board!
"5/16/13" When I was a kid, I had fun drawing battle scenes. These are recent visits to this theme.
"5/29/13" I would draw tanks and soldiers with guns and fighter planes. I guess I got the inspiration from movies about WWII, comic books and 1960's TV shows. I always added sound effects as I drew.
"2/18/13" Think of all the cinematic conventions of war imagery. Here, an ace struggles to control his plane as he ditches it in the ocean.
"2/18/13" "Just a scratch" He'll be back in the skies tomorrow.
"6/19/13" War is dirty business but luckily, these combatants all have dependable parachutes. Maybe they will play again after lunch.