Chapter 2: Floral Children;
We; my mom, my brother and I were good foils for the inner conflicts of folks in Whittier. We filled a small town yearning for objects of exemplary moral decay; my mother, corrupted and abandoned by east coast intellectuals; my brother, weird and feral; me, too young to choose a side but already groomed to dispense with princesses in favor of the runaway or vagabond. From our arrival in Whittier, my mother and brother wanted nothing more than to escape this judgmental place. I was torn. My grandmother's suburban complex--built during the depression with a swimming pool and patio garden added later-- was where fantastical flora and unnatural fauna invited a love of the place along side a paradoxical belief in worlds larger than our confined and dissolute suburban life. I loved Grandma's house.
Chapter 3: The Grapes of Ambivalence;
Our life began in the house on Comstock. Old Whittier was a loci for history-- the house Richard Nixon was born in a mere half a block from the WPA freeze on the front of Hoover Elementary; Our home was a slightly ramshackle California cottage whose previous owner had died in her home of old age, leaving all her possessions up for grabs. The garage was grave yard of interesting objects for children and apparently even the crawl space under the house held treasures. My mom worked tirelessly fixing up a space which had become overgrown with insects and vines. She spent her time at home painting, re-doing the floors, even making much of our furniture from old cardboard and discarded crates. Such pride my mother had in her own extreme craft-thriftyness my brother and I never had in inkling that we were relatively poor or my mom made furniture because she couldn't afford new or even used furniture. We were a frontier family and proud of it. Looking back, my mom's ambivalent about our situation manifested itself in her response to a terrible event.
Chapter 1: Everything Goes to Seed;
Througout the 1970's marriage laws of the United States were reworked to favor no-fault divorce allowing heterosexual couples to voluntarily sever their legal relationships. Today increased divorce rates are often attributed to the women's movement, birth-control and other types of social liberalism. However in the decade of the 1970s the justifications for the reworking of the divorce laws were that they would strengthen marriage. The stringent requirements for divorce decrees meant that couples had often needed to lie about the circumstances of their relationships even when break-ups were amicable. As several generations of women have discovered since this legal twist, the alteration to the marriage contract had diverse effects on women's ability to be either free from or equal to men.
Chapter 4: The Violets of Abstraction
After we left Comstock, again a mere 5 blocks it became apparent that my mother was cobbling together an escape strategy. She was going to get us the hell out of Whittier if it killed her. She simultaneously embraced more intense therapeutic worlds, scrambled for a less traumatic workplace, and desperately sought a supportive community, partner, or ideology which would help her get there. Our weekend outings became less free-form, more focused on
A Transmedia Graphic Memoir:
The Dandelion King is a trans-media graphic novel; including short films, archival media & interactive book APP, all of which contribute to a divorce biography which chronicles a social history of the 1970's. The book tells an intimate story about growing up in Los Angeles county in a particular historical moment. Each chapter combines animation with archival footage from historic documentary, linking ‘real’ films of the era with a graphic mind’s eye.
The 1970s is the decade with the largest recorded rates of divorce in history, a legacy with which my generation struggles. In 1969 my father, a political refugee from Argentina and biologist in the field of plant population genetics left his wife and his kids to marry his graduate student. My mother, brother and I moved back to Whittier, California to live with my grandparents. In this graphic novel, the personal story I explore is underpinned by social change in the 1970’s: the impact of evangelical movements and their political ascendency in southern Los Angeles county; how changes in mental health policy impact my mothers’ job at the notorious psychiatric hospital, Metropolitan State; how Argentina’s economic and political upheaval impacted my immigrant father’s life and work in the U.S.. The backdrop of my chaotic childhood are large societal shifts illustrated by the movement from Richard Nixon’s (a native son of Whittier) famous phrase, “we are all Keynsians” to the ascendance of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980.
The Dandelion King is intimate, political, and accessible storytelling, available on multiple media platforms. Film & motion graphics will be available online, phone and tablet apps as well as in chapter ‘comic book’ and graphic novel forms.