“Death to Mediocrity” one of my favorite sketches from the RED AS BLUE project, and is one of the last that completes all the illustrations for this graphic novel. “Death to Mediocrity” is the only sketch that is a class of its own. I asked Juan (my illustrator) to draw this because it gives me joy. I can see it as a big poster on my wall, and I can also see other kids loving to have this sketch on their wall.
It’s an image of a gothic butch dyke with her femme pet-girl and acting like they’re the hottest shit on the planet.
In the novel, Gothic Butch is picking on our hero, June, who is auditioning on stage for the first time. And although there are winks between us (the reader and I) that June is actually, secretly quite talented, in the eyes of the crowd: she is totally LAME.
So the crowd badgers her because she’s not cool enough.
I particularly like this scene because life is a lot like that: the group of weirdos and outcasts that June thought she would belong to end up being a bunch of haters that should know what it’s like to be rejected. But when a group gets caught up in “group-thinking,” they become like everyone else. They behave like the status quo that they fight against.
So I think it’s hysterical that an outcast like Gothic Butch would be yelling at June although they come from the same oppressed group.
The drawing is a token to memorialize my early days hanging out in underground goth clubs. They were not called “goth” but were true alternative clubs when “alternative” used to have a real meaning.
I was very young, somewhat sheltered and naive. Sheltered because I grew up in a predominantly religious right-wing conservative environment that kept me stunted and utterly stupid about sexuality.
So when I was going to these clubs, I was in the den of iniquity as it were. I saw everything that my eyes weren’t allowed to see on mainstream TV, pop culture media, and movies. I used to be a mall rat ‘cos that was what all there was. And here I was with my new wave friends, a gay boy named Gary, my friend Cynthia, and Josef, a pretty-boy jock athlete who was not yet out of the closet…or maybe it was with Mellisa, the airhead model that was ridiculously slutty?
My friends and I were in this dark club out in the middle of nowhere in Colorado Springs. The ‘Springs at that time was desolate and lifeless. It was known mainly for its military base camp and today it is the epicenter of the largest evangelical movement in the world. So you got intolerance and guns mixed together. Go figure!
It was a total irony that this sinful club was situated in the middle of all this. And it was authentic, not poseur-like at all. The club was called Ground Zero.
I don’t remember what happened the rest of that night but I became hypnotized when a bunch of goth kids took over the dance floor, prancing around theatrically to some dark and moody suicidal death rock. And in this darkness was this hyper-sexualized slut dancing in the middle of the dance floor under a spotlight and I was transfixed. This girl was using her body in a way I had never seen before. She wasn’t doing anything outrageous or breaking out into any kind of Britney Spears moves. She was just dancing to herself: very still. Hardly moving at all and beneath her was a gothic butch girl worshiping.
I think I stared at her for over 30 minutes and burned a permanent image of it in my mind because she was so exotic. And although her lesbian girlfriend was a tough butch, I knew who was the one in control: the goddess.
I vowed that one day, I would release this imprint from my head and do something creative with it. I just wasn’t sure when and how.
The sketch is just a funny way for me to summarize what I had seen, what I had been through. My editor, Michael, helped me expand on the Gothic Butch character because he felt she could serve a bigger purpose than just being a member of the crowd. So I decided that it would be interesting to take someone so unique in the club to criticize someone equally unique and different, June. It developed into a cautionary tale of the dangers and hypocrisy of group-mentality.
Personally, I love this scene because I get to stare at the Slutty Femme again. I wanted her at the Butch’s feet giggling to herself. Between she and I, it was actually the other way around. But we’ll let Butch Girl think she’s on top. Just for giggles.