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"There are times you realize how small the place you're from really is."
March 23, 2012 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Kate Beaton, on loss and home.

Some context, via Beaton's Tumblr and Reddit.
posted by kagredon (41 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm glad she put it back up. As much as I love her historical humour, Beaton's personal stuff - like the strip about spending Christmas alone up in the oil sands of Alberta - is what really stays with me.
posted by thecjm at 11:24 PM on March 23, 2012


Here is the Christmas strip I referenced.
posted by thecjm at 11:27 PM on March 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


There are times you realize how small the place everyone is from really is.

Pardon the MetaCliche, but

.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:10 AM on March 24, 2012


As much as I love her historical humour, Beaton's personal stuff - like the strip about spending Christmas alone up in the oil sands of Alberta - is what really stays with me.

Everyone knows Santa isn't real.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:54 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was powerfully moving. I'm one of those that moved, and I feel the loss every time I get off the phone with my parents (I call twice a week and see them every 6 months, but still...). It's not as though I actually want to go back to where I came from, but the sense of a closing chapter lingers.
posted by arcticseal at 2:19 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


She's been one of my favorite cartoonists for a couple years now, but it took this for me to realize how wonderful a writer she's become as well. Her phrasings are simple and elegant and restrained, yet so emotional. She's a fantastic talent.
posted by Errant at 3:42 AM on March 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


Lovely peice, that.
posted by Artw at 3:51 AM on March 24, 2012


Being Albertan, and living in Toronto for 5 or 6 years now, and i still feel an affinity for people from atlantic canada, growing up with them.
posted by PinkMoose at 4:08 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a Maritimer (PEI) living in California for about a year now this, and the Christmas strip above, have tears running down my cheeks. But I was primed for homesickness, I'm up early listening to CBC radio over the Internet, in Atlantic Daylight Time because I'm up so early. Maritime accents make me so happy. Even the written-down Cape Breton-isms in the Christmas comic did it for me.

Realizing my budget would need to have special money set aside for plane trips home to attend funerals was heartbreaking in a way, but 90% of the time I spent home for my grandmother's funeral was surrounded by loving family and good memories.

Thanks for this.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:16 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh. Oh my goodness. This is an Alistair MacLeod story in sketch format. Which is to say, among other things, that this is absolutely beautiful.
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:35 AM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow. I really want to see Beaton do a long, 'serious' story like this - something big enough to publish on its own. She's a brilliant writer as well as being a great comic artist.
posted by anaximander at 4:45 AM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The song that's referenced in the comic is Fisherman's Son by The Rankin Family.

When you live far away from where you grew up, having someone you know die and not being able to return is incredibly painful. It's a whirling turmoil of sorrow, homesickness and guilt for having left everything and everyone behind.
posted by Kattullus at 4:50 AM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Very good...thanks for sharing this.

And Kattullus, thanks for the Rankin Family song, I hadn't thought about them in a while, it was good to revisit their music. (not to derail, but if you just found the Rankins here, one of my favorites, and very related to this post, is We Rise Again )
posted by HuronBob at 6:18 AM on March 24, 2012


Thanks for sharing.

I clicked with no context whatsoever, first time I've seen her work - what an amazing find.
posted by tempythethird at 6:22 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Works for other diasporas, had me weepy. An excellent piece, not much more to say.
posted by Iteki at 6:46 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even better than her usual brilliance.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:28 AM on March 24, 2012


this hits so hard. it's the same for any migrant people. not only does my mother worry i come back home one day in casket; i despair thinking she'll be gone without me being there.

it doesn't matter where you come from, the sense of loss and displacement is the same for all migrant people.

am in tears.

and for her cousin







.
posted by liza at 7:35 AM on March 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh my goodness. That was really powerful. So spare and so striking. Thanks for posting this.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:42 AM on March 24, 2012


Oh man, I was wondering when ts was going to be posted. The stuff she's doing now about her father is just like, amazing and sweet and touching
posted by The Whelk at 8:06 AM on March 24, 2012


The worst thing is that plane ride home not knowing if you are going to make it in time to say goodbye. They don't cover that in the sales job on being an expatriate.
posted by arcticseal at 8:07 AM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is great.

For something similar in novel form, read No Great Mischief. Same community, same themes, really beautiful book.
posted by alms at 8:10 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows Santa isn't real.

Ack, this kind of gutted me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:13 AM on March 24, 2012


Me: "Do you know about Kate Beaton?"
Daughter, 17: "Yeah, she's a webcomic."
Me: "She's awesome! Why didn't you tell me about her?!"
Daughter: "I did! She did the Gatsby comic I showed you."
Me: "Well, why didn't you make me bookmark it?!"
Daughter: (eyeroll)

Putting away the to-do list, since obviously I am going to spend today on her site. Thanks for sharing this.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 8:18 AM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh my how excellent. This absolutely requires Four Strong Winds as accompaniment.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2012


arcticseal: The worst thing is that plane ride home not knowing if you are going to make it in time to say goodbye. They don't cover that in the sales job on being an expatriate.

Or when someone you love is unconscious and dying and you have to decide between going back to say goodbye or going back to be at the funeral with your grieving loved ones, because you can't afford being away from work long enough to do both.
posted by Kattullus at 8:35 AM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


arcticseal: The worst thing is that plane ride home not knowing if you are going to make it in time to say goodbye. They don't cover that in the sales job on being an expatriate.

Oh geeze. This made me think of Sharon Olds's poem "The Race":
they told me the flight was cancelled, the doctors
had said my father would not live through the night
and the flight was cancelled.

posted by nicebookrack at 8:45 AM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would love to see this comic in rebuttal to that maddening "Why are all these slacker youngsters still living in their hometowns?" article. Leaving home isn't all sunshine and roses and economic growth, NYTimes.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:49 AM on March 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh, that is so real and so sad and so lovely.

Agree that it would be amazing if Beaton did a full-length book in this vein.

But until then, let me recommend Seth's collaboration with his dad, J. H. Gallant, Bannock, Beans, and Black Tea, which is the father's simple and heartbreaking story of his Depression childhood on Prince Edward Island with tremendously evocative and understated illustrations by Seth. Some of the same themes of community and hardship and love in there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:53 AM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks for making me have tears in my eyes as I listened to the Rankin family's "We rise again". Of course as a teenager, I rolled my eyes at everything Martimes-related. Now I've been gone too long and I miss it. Although not sure I can ever go back. (to live. to visit, of course). Time moves on and staying or going, I think age sometimes brings with it regret.
posted by bquarters at 8:59 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's an especially hard nut, this mixture of death/loss and distance. As though it's not hard enough, the loss itself, but then to be too far away, to not be able to give that loss it's rightful context in the lives of those it has touched. You carry it around alone - which is just the fucking worst.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:43 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I needed this. We just lost a kid I used to do theater with in high school, 3000 miles away. Totally lost track of him; he wasn't on Facebook. I don't know him well enough to say much on his memorial page, except that he was a brilliant actor and singer, and lit the stage on fire.

.
posted by gusandrews at 11:06 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Background and another nice reflection in the Cape Breton Post.

At this point, I tear up every time Kate Beaton draws her mother—I don't even have to read the dialogue anymore.
posted by wreckingball at 12:43 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Loved this when I first read it and glad you've posted it here.
When Beaton was first getting noticed a few years ago, her work struck a major chord with me, the quality of her lines and great eye for gestures and facial expressions, as well as her language and wit. At the time she was a relative unknown, or someone who'd had a sudden blip of attention but wasn't yet widely known. I met her at a comic show and got to talk to her at length because there was nobody else waiting - she was gracious and funny and a bit surprised by the attention she was getting. And now when I go to that same comic show, they've had to rearrange the booths to accommodate the line of fans waiting to meet her, which now stretches out of the convention ballroom and down the adjacent hallway. I'm so, so happy that she is getting the attention and respect she deserves - she is really one of the major artists of her generation, and it's so great that she has risen purely on the basis of that talent to be well-recognized and making a living at it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:48 PM on March 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Thank you for those links, wreckingball. That newspaper column about Kenzie Beaton's life is especially lovely.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:28 PM on March 24, 2012


Here's video of a 20 minute interview Kate Beaton did last fall with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC's Q.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:06 PM on March 24, 2012


One of my best friends was having his 30th birthday party yesterday. I couldn't make it because it's basically a thousand kilometres away. My mother's birthday is next weekend. Doesn't get any closer.

I don't regret my decision to leave my home town for a second, but for all our modern hubris distance endures. I am somewhat in awe of Kate Beaton's ability to make me feel that distance keenly, and importantly what it means. Leaving home is hard, and it never gets any easier.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 8:28 PM on March 24, 2012


These strips are really quite touching. But now I feel a bit guilty for never having regretted leaving my home even slightly, or for one single microsecond, and for dreading the vague grey depression I always feel on the mercifully rare occasions when family duty compels me to return there.
posted by Decani at 4:00 AM on March 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jian Ghomeshi on CBC's Q

KYAAAA MOXY FRUVOUS & KATE BEATON MY FANDOMS COLLIDE!
posted by nicebookrack at 5:34 AM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


This comic made me cry. Not only for those who've left home, not knowing when they can or will return, but also for myself, always running to the next shiny thing, wondering when I'll finally find the community I was always promised by storybooks and after-school specials.
posted by Phire at 4:37 PM on March 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is really lovely, thanks for posting it.

Even though I'm not a migrant, I can identify a little with what she says.... my work, the earning-the-mortgage stuff, has shifted focus over the past few years until I spend quite a bit of time away from home in London: six weeks in India, eight in Shanghai, six in New York.

I'm in my 50s, three children in their 20s, and parents who have seen 80. I'm often aware of a thought in the back of my mind when the phone rings, especially out-of-hours... will I be able to get to the airport and back home in time?

So what arcticseal said... yeah.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 4:42 PM on March 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have twice had the plane ride home under those circumstances, once for my father, once for my FIL. Luckily, they are both still with us but it was harrowing circumstances to take a plane ride over and I'm not looking forward to the repeat. One of the reasons we're moving home to Canada next month to be closer to my wife's parents.

The incident with my dad was a demonstration of Murphy at his best. He went in for knee replacement surgery, and the night before, I assured my mother on the phone that she shouldn't worry as "it's only knee surgery". I called up the next day to see how he was doing, the nurse hesitated and I could hear my mother in the background sobbing "oh my God". So we're on the next flight home from Norway to the UK as he arrested on the table due to a reaction to the epidural anesthetic. He came to in the ICU, didn't know anything had happened and wondered what the hell I was doing there. That was the last time I ever said "it's only..." when someone went into hospital.

The flight from Norway to Canada for my FIL was the same multiplied by 4 times the flight duration, listening to my wife sobbing her heart out and I would never wish that powerless feeling on anyone.

Being an expatriate is not all it's cracked up to be.
posted by arcticseal at 8:23 PM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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