Monthly Archives: July 2018

Mara Page 2

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As I explained in the video, page 2 was in a sense a compare and contrast between the world of Mara’s DMT visions and her “reality.” The page was laid out with the same panel dimensions, and the top panels of both pages were meant to compositionally run parallel to each other.

So, I am showing them side by side below:

Side By SIde Justine's Mara Pages 1-2

Side By SIde Justine’s Mara Pages 1-2

I think in a sense this imagery is a meditation on how entwined the realities and dimensions we live in are, the reality and dimension of our fantasies, and that of our reality.

Yet there is MOST definitely a difference between fantasy and reality, something the political correctness movement has entirely lost track of. It amazes me how quickly people will assume things about an artist’s politics or philosophy based on the fantasies in their art. I was once asked (hell… not asked… ACCUSED) by an ass-kissing gallery owner about my erotic fantasy work, “What does this say about slavery? About women’s rights?” I said, “Uhm… nothing.” I am constantly astounded at how many people cannot tell fantasy from reality. Let’s face it, most of the stuff that happens to Mara I would not want to live through, but that has nothing to do with what I might fantasize about. Fantasies should never line up with ideology, if they do, then I think you have surrendered your imagination, or perhaps chained it, to your politics. Shame, isn’t it?

OK, rant over, Just for fun, and to show how page 1 and page 2 relate even more clearly, I have merged the two pages into one below:

Justine Mara Andersen New Mara Pages 1 - 2 Merge

Justine Mara Andersen New Mara Pages 1 – 2 Merge

To be honest, I don’t really have much of a feel for science fiction, too much technical stuff, I prefer the organic quality of fantasy, but for the story to work, Mara had to start out in a world in which she feels misfit, so I had to draw environments in which I feel misfit.

Whenever I draw science fiction, I tend to turn to Syd Mead for influence, the man who essentially designed Blade Runner. I turn to him not so much to copy, but to draw influence, I also turned to Roy G. Krenkel for influence, but I could not find the Krenkel in particular that influenced elements of this page.

Below I have included a fine example of a Syd Mead, a world I admire as an act of creation, but not a place in which I would want to spend any time, a place Mara is forced to exist in… at least for now.

And, last but not least, to help me make this dream come true, to help bring these visions and fantasies to light, become a patron of the arts: https://www.patreon.com/barefootjustine

To take Justine’s classes: https://learn.sawcomics.org/collections/justine?q=

Justine’s Site… Exciting NEW Content

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Hey Group, check out my site, an updated Home page, a new animation gallery, a new gallery of my Gainesville work (under “galleries”), and most exciting, an in depth look at my work in progress under “New Mara” (to be found under “categories” or in the top navigation bar), an enormous undertaking that will feature page by page videos and blogs about the process.

And I need help, artists need patrons, so check out my Patron site, too: https://www.patreon.com/barefootjustine

Mara Page 1 (& Classic Mara)

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Watch video above!

Old Mara Art

Old Mara Art

These entries are meant to compliment the on-camera video flip-through (TOP) I did with Tom Hart for the unfinished relaunch of my highly personal Mara comics series. At first we thought we might edit in close-ups and images from the artists that influenced me, but it seemed that a better treatment was to write accompanying blogs so the viewer can perhaps come in closer, or at least spend more time with the images I want to spotlight.

Before even going into the first page of the new Mara, I spent some time discussing “Classic Mara,” if something as utterly ignored and low-selling as my Mara can ever be considered “classic.”

Regardless, that old Mara project came from the heart, and it kept me “sane,” and drove me nuts at the same time… and kept me poor. But I felt I had something to say then, and then I thought it was important. Now, I have something to say, but being older… I no longer suffer from the delusion that it will be in any way “important.” As I often say, “I wanted to leave a mark, but I fear all I’ve left is a stain.” What kept me doing it even while it was being so utterly dismissed was that I had never seen anything like it. In other words, as familiar as I was with Exploitation Cinema, eroticism, and comics in that style, nothing sated my thirst, ONLY Mara did that. My unique vision was what kept me going.

Here she is, good old Mara! The image below was done about the time I had begun to burn out, it’s hard to believe now, but I abandoned this page because I thought it was lousy…

It ain’t!

Classic Unfinished Mara by Justine

Classic Unfinished Mara by Justine

The first page of the “New Mara” was inspired by my experiences with the psychedelic DMT, experiences which ended a couple years back. The problem with translating these experiences into art is that the DMT experience does not translate into the limitations of this reality. The DMT experience is not about seeing and hearing things, it’s more about BEING things. And worse, the DMT experience is a lot like having a handful of gold in the cave of wonders, gold that quickly turns to dust once you exit the cave.

How does one draw that which cannot be grasped, that which cannot be described or defined, or even remembered? About all an artist can do is try and recreate what the experience felt like.

I found the image below, and while it is not what I experienced, it came far closer than anything else I have seen. But imagine if the image below were in motion, the colors rotating, luminesce, and wholly immersive. All I could find to credit the artist was that it was done by “Beacon.”

I think if you look at the 2nd panel of the first page you will see that I did a variation on this image, but chose to reference the trunk of the Hindu deity Ganesh. Also note the floating circles and how they pan across all 6 of the lower panels.

Justine Mara Andersen's Mara Page 1 Detail

Justine Mara Andersen’s Mara Page 1 Detail

The grid underneath was intended to help me maintain symmetry, but I am thinking I might ink it in, it seems now to be a part of the drawing.

I was asked just yesterday if the DMT experience changed me for the better or for the worse. I stammered, and had to say that every action comes with consequences, some could be seen as positive, some as negative. All I know is that the changes have been profound and utterly irreversible. What I have learned from DMT has expanded me, and somewhat frightened me, it’s not something that should be undertaken lightly. Was it for the best or for the worst? I don’t know, but I don’t regret it.

And, last but not least, to help me make this dream come true, to help bring these visions and fantasies to light, become a patron of the arts: https://www.patreon.com/barefootjustine

To take Justine’s classes: https://learn.sawcomics.org/collections/justine?q=

Mara Intro.

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In this video I’m showing you how I live, where I work, and a little bit about who I am. Who is this madwoman creating Exploitation comics in this day and age? Just me… Justine Mara Andersen.

You’ll be seeing my room, my “psychedelic pad,” my “little slice of paradise.” Eclectic as the setting may be whenever I watch Bollywood movies in my room at night… the movies just seem to settle right into the decor, and at times it’s hard to tell where the movie ends and the room begins, especially when watching Sanjay Leela Bhansali films. At night, when the curtains are pulled, the room takes on an exotic magic that feels quite different from the vacation in paradise setting of the daylight hours.

And definitely the forest around my room has been integrated into the decor. The yellows and greens play about on the walls creating a seamlessness between the interior and exterior.

In fact, the below photo was taken directly from my room. My nearest neighbors are animals, deer, bald eagles, hawks, alligators, wild turkeys, and lots of little lizards and gorgeous green tree frogs.

I took this picture from my window, a great view right into the forest. (pic by Justine Mara Andersen)

Mara Medievalist (by Justine)

Mara Medievalist (by Justine)

And here, in this setting, in this room, is where I do my work, my drawing and my dreaming. In many ways, this relaunch of Mara seems like an exercise in madness.

Many might ask, why return to a project that was wholly ignored, sold poorly, and has been ultimately forgotten?

There is no logical answer, other than the one French exploitation director Jean Rollin gave me when I asked him why he kept creating under such adversity, he told me, if I don’t write or make films, I die.

When I began Mara back in 1989 (or so) I knew nothing about her or her world, nor did I know how to draw or tell a story. Of course the image above is from one of the last Mara books, and is quite accomplished, but in so many ways Mara has never left me. Even if the rest of the world chose to ignore her, and ignore me as an artist, she and I have always been one.

And even if many want to call me out for “sexualization” or being somehow anti-feminist for drawing good old fashioned romantic erotic fantasy, Exploitation, I no longer care because that, too is part of me. I don’t do this for money, I don’t do this because “sex sells,” or to be a “sell-out,” I do this because it’s the truth of who I am.

Be careful when judging a person’s art, when assuming their motives. Very often the anger of the viewer is the only lens through which they can see art that does not conform to their ideologies.

I guess if you don’t like Mara, you don’t like me, and you know what, that’s fine by me. As deep as I am into this incarnation, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I no longer expect to be loved by all.

All I can do is love what I do and tell the truth, and let the chips fall where they may.

Oh, and funny note about the above Mara panel… that word balloon “I feel like a Victorian” was a direct reference to how dismissive David X Cohen was of my work when a friend delivered it to his desk in the hopes that I might be able to find work with the Simpsons (by the way, I had sent in cartooning samples, not just Mara), he tossed it aside and said, “It’s too Victorian.” Well like when Lennon said all McCartney did was write silly love songs and Paul wrote “Silly Love Songs” in response, I did the same here.

What’s so wrong with being Victorian anyway?

And, last but not least, to help me make this dream come true, to help bring these visions and fantasies to light, become a patron of the arts: https://www.patreon.com/barefootjustine

To take Justine’s classes: https://learn.sawcomics.org/collections/justine?q=

Ganesh, The Dying Fawn & Me

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Diseased Fawn With Ganesh Outside Justine Mara Andersen's Window

Diseased Fawn With Ganesh Outside Justine Mara Andersen’s Window

I’m about to tell you a lot of truth here, truth that might upset and alarm some of my readers.

I have been suffering from increasingly consuming anxiety and depression episodes lately. I took up social dancing in an effort to get out, to meet people, as the loneliness I experience day to day has become unbearably agonizing. For a while I began to feel great, I loved the dancing and dated three men, two of them rejected me after the first date, and the third simply and slowly began to back away. The rejections hit hard and cut deep, and the day after the dates ended, I was diagnosed with a medical condition that upset me very deeply. I became not only frightened, but once again terribly alone… and still poor and without work.

I went from high hopes, dancing and romance, and a job doing a cover for the next Barbarella comic to crushing depression and rattling anxiety very quickly, and I’m going to tell the whole truth here, I broke down. My housemate called 911 when he found me on all fours in the dirt, wretching in emotional agony, when not crumbled into the dirt I began pacing mad circles around our driveway, the machine had broken down. I was devastated, exhausted, and just could not hold it together any longer. I kept saying “Something’s wrong!”

I’d been in the hospital once before after a breakdown, and it was the worst night of my life. The threat of returning to a hospital brought me down to a collapse in which I burrowed into the sofa in the living room. There my concerned housemate found me, and we decided that instead of taking me to a hospital, he would stay with me all night long.

He and I took all the pills from my cabinet.

I was suicidal.

Funny thing, after suicides everyone says insincere shit like “they should have reached out.” Bullshit. We do reach out, but everyone’s too busy. It makes them feel better to say “they should have reached out” afterwords, but the words are just lies we tell ourselves. I had been reaching out.

Fortunately I got in to see my doctor the next day and got on some meds. And luckily for me the best of my friends took me seriously, I reached out and they responded, and I am grateful. But I have been left in a state of deep depression, and essentially spent 2 weeks in bed watching TV. When I look at pictures of myself, I can’t believe I’m being left alone to suffer so much loneliness.

Am I so ugly that no one wants to date me, to care for me? It’s not a question I am asking out loud… but it is the question that spending 6 years alone has forced me to ask myself. And to ask time and again.

Justine Mara Andersen

Justine Mara Andersen

The fact is, I spend a lot of days and nights staring at the ceiling waiting to go to bed, with nothing to do and not a soul to talk to. I can’t even get enough work in to keep my mind occupied, which means I’m also too damn poor and broke to go out and do much.

And more and more being told how “hot” I am by guys on the internet has begun to sting like a thorn in the side. If I’m so hot… why am I so lonely? If I’m so smart, so interesting, why am I always alone?

Why?

And if I’m so damn talented… why am I so poor, so fucking bored, with NO work on my table?

You know what’s meaningless to an artist with no work…? Compliments. Yeah… I’m good, but so fucking what.

What The Lions SAW cover by Justine Mara Andersen

What The Lions SAW cover by Justine Mara Andersen

I’ve even been too miserable to meditate.

And in the middle of all this hell, this poor little fawn came from out of the forest and started settling in our lawn. I could see immediately, perhaps because she was a kindred spirit, that this beautiful animal had been abandoned. I could see that she had no one to care for her. I could see and feel the totality of the suffering.

Eventually she settled in just outside my window, just to the left of where I sit to study Hindu scriptures and the “Siva Purana,” right there between me and a garden statue of Ganesh. It was uncanny, the fawn’s position, timing and condition.

In the middle of my deepest depression, there she was, this poor dying creature, a 5-week old baby that chose to die between me and Ganesh… right under the watchful eye of Ganesh!

I sought wisdom, I talked to my spiritual teachers, told them of my hurting, of the suffering fawn and got some amazing feedback:

“As you perhaps know, in Indian literature the thinking mind is often compared to a deer, that is innocent, fearful, restless and swift. Here for a fawn to rest facing a stone Ganesh is auspicious, suggesting that a restless mind has found peace in still meditation on Ganesh. And just outside your window! This is especially conjured for you to see and reflect upon.”

…wrote one friend, and my favorite monk sent me this:

“Dear Justine,

Are you sure the fawn us dying? Of what cause?

In any event, what a gift, a validation. Clearly, for whatever reason, this fawn feels sheltered and nurtured by the energy near your place of study and contemplation of Shiva et al.

OM namah Shivaya!

May you be well and offer all you can to the woodland creatures for whom you embody sharanam!

With brotherly love and affection,
Shankara”

As for myself, I at least took their advice and began to contemplate and meditate on me, the fawn and Ganesh. I sat in half-lotus on the other side of the window, lit incense and stared over the fawn into my garden Ganesh. I saw that this deer was indeed me, or at least who I was at that moment: sick, weak, frightened and fleeting. It was a manifestation of what was between me and Ganesh, of that pain, that fear and suffering that was between me and God.

Meditation or not, I didn’t know what to do about my life, nor how to care for this fawn, but I knew I was responsible for both. I tried to get her to eat or drink, but nothing, and the poor fawn was swarmed by flies, it’s eyes scabbed shut, and it’s nose looked as if it was simply rotting off, that is why it had buried its nose in its haunches in the top photo. I could not help but watch this animal through my window, raising it’s hind leg, and with the finest touch, scratch at its nose, and it was perhaps the saddest thing I have ever had to witness.

I tried leaving the fawn in the care of Ganesh, but more and more I began to realize that I had to do something, but what? It had been out there for two days, dying before my eyes, right outside the glass of my own window!

Eventually I looked for someone in town who rescued wild animals, and fortunately found someone who was willing to come right over and look her over. She told me the fawn was suffering from a fatal skin condition, which was ironic as my diagnosis was also a potential skin condition. The symmetries were far too intense to be anything but divine. But, she said if we could catch her, the fawn could be treated and rehabilitated.

In our first efforts to catch her, the fawn escaped us, ran deep into the forest. Fortunately, she came back later that evening. I was delighted to see that she had come home… YES… HOME! So I called the wildlife rescuer back, and was surprised to find that she was not only ready and willing to come right over and try again, but that she was to be bringing two biologists who specialize in caring for deer.

We worked out a strategy to capture it. I told them that it had 4 places it liked to go (and ran for them the first time around before it escaped into the forest), and I told them it might be best if we sneak around the back of my room through the quiet dirt and block off the forest with a “wall” (of blanket), then I realized I was telling pros how to do their jobs I apologized, but they were happy to have so much information, so we went through with that plan. me and the wildlife rescuer came around the back in the dark, I held up a wall, she poised herself around the palm tree with a net, one of the biologists shone a spotlight in its eyes from the front (though the fawn was almost blind), and it only had one way to go, so the other biologist, in black, snuck up and caught the little fawn when she took off. It practically leapt into her arms.

It was exhilarating!

The moment the fawn was captured in the arms of the biologist and taken away to be healed… it felt very cathartic, as if a lot of my anxiety and depression went with it. The timing and position of the fawn was divinely guided, I have no doubt about that, neither did my fellow seekers and teachers. And… it came to me, when I needed her, and she came when she needed me. With help, I saved her life, and I think she came to save me as well.

The very next morning I went in to a dermatologist and found that the diagnosis I had received earlier was wrong, I, like the fawn, will be fine. Our skin will be fine.

And I got this when I told the story to my spiritual teacher:

“Dear One Seeking Refuge and Bliss,

Well done! Every act of selflessness and kindness improves the Force — within you and without you.

The vector of that fawn’s life is changed, and so the entire Universe is altered for the better, just that bit.

Big buckets can be filled, one drip at a time.

May you be well and in bright spirits,
Shankara, rejoicing for the beautiful fawn”

I still have a battle to fight, a lot of loneliness, a certain amount of despair about life, my career and hopes of being loved, but now at the very least I have this fawn to meditate on, this great gift from Mother Durga, Lord Shiva and Ganesh. I have great truths to meditate on.

Whatever comes, I must learn to take it as prasadam.

But first, I have to get through one more lonely night. At least that had been the last thought I felt like sharing, but instead a friend came as I wrote this entry and asked if I wanted to go out and have dinner.

And tomorrow, well, that’s another day.

Ganapati Bappa Morya!