I’ve just posted the first installment in a massive new autobiographical comic that’s been years in the making. It’s called VREELAND, and you can read it here. You may ask: “VREELAND? Is that even a word? Why would you call your book that?”
My grandparents lived on Vreeland Road in Ann Arbor, Michigan for many, many years. Whenever the family was referring to things out there, we’d just talk about stuff “at Vreeland” -- the word was synonymous with the life my grandparents had created out there on their rugged five-acre parcel of land.
They spent fifty or sixty years together on Vreeland Road. I spent four.
I had just graduated from college, and I was a mess. I was convinced that if I could just make good art, everything in life would magically open up for me. I was wrong. It took several long, hard months back home with my parents in Wisconsin to realize that.
It was around that time, late in 2005, that we visited Vreeland for the holidays. My grandparents were in sad shape, their house a mess. Although they had someone coming out twice a week to help out, it was clear that they needed a lot more support to stay at Vreeland.
It was my parents’ idea: I would move to Michigan, head out to Vreeland each afternoon, make some dinner, then have the rest of the day to work on my art. My parents would chip in, along with other family members, to help support me.
It seemed like a good match -- I needed something worthwhile to do with myself, and helping my grandparents was a noble cause.
But even years later, I still don’t know how to think of the fours years I spent at Vreeland. I got to know and care for my grandparents on a level I never could have imagined. There were profound moments, funny ones, and there were ordeals I barely pulled through.
I hope to capture that complexity in my comics about that time, to share and make sense of it.
I’m drawing Chapter 2 right now, and Chapters 3 and 4 are still just rough drafts. So it might take a while. I hope you get something from these stories, that you share them, and that you enjoy your time at Vreeland.