When I was in my early twenties, I had a boyfriend tell me dismissively that I was too “dark.” I’ve spent a lot of time since then trying to figure out just what he meant. I try to be a cheerful person – I really do. I started this comic, thinking that it’d be funny to have an older lady fighting a no-win war against neighbourhood cats and weird creepy crawlies in the garden, but it got away from me, the way most things do.

I had some friends come over a few weeks ago, and they echoed that exact wording. Actually, it’s weird how many people use the word “dark” when describing my art. I tried to show them that I like to draw cartoony things, and flowers, and that I’ve not drawn any sort of… okay, well, there are the zombie paintings, and the monster paintings, and a few half-finished pieces that probably could be taken as “moody”.

A couple of people have told me that they’ve tried to read the comic, but that it’s “too dark” for them. My mother was one of the first to say that, but then again I’m always getting that from her. If you really want to see the spark of fear and panic in my eyes, ask me sometime why I don’t “draw nicer things.” Say it in a really concerned voice, and then follow up with how I’m so talented and that I really could have a career, if only I would paint and draw “nicer things.”

With All the Growing Things, I always knew that I wanted Maude to have a “troubled past” – you know, the way all the cool super heroes have. I thought, yeah, what if there were some sort of James Ellroy-esque story there? What if Maude went to the Big City with her man, and was going to be famous, and then something happened that was just “wrong place at the wrong time”?

I’d settled into that Ellroy thing early on, trying to hint that maybe all this stuff was happening because of some issue that Maude never really dealt with, but maybe I went too far. Maybe I just…

…Well. Whatever, I guess. I know that I’m far off the mark of “old lady vs. gardening problems” but I think that I’m still interested in what I’m working on, so that’s always a good thing. And who knows, maybe it’ll come around full circle where she can fight more monsters?

But it probably won’t get any less “dark.” No matter how I try.