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Tehura Tries Comics

1994, by Chris Wayan; a dream-inspired comic drawn in pencil & tinted digitally

I dreamed that a sphinx artist visited humanity and drew the crazy natives. I saw her sketchbook, which was round--she used circles where we use boxes!

When I woke, I copied and translated her sketchbook, as well as I could remember it.

This is one sample page from the resulting comic book.

Here Tehura plays with our absurd idea of linear time, as epitomized by our comic strips. Panel by panel, she teases us, half in English, half in her native glyphs (translation below image):

Tehura the sphinx draws comix, trying to understand human notions of linear time. Dream sketch by Wayan; click to enlarge.
"Human artforms, from comics pages to museum walls, carve up our sacred flow* of time* and life*..." (Tehura really used one word that can be translated three ways--time and life are the same in Sphinx, and flow is a close cognate)

"...our sacred flow of time/life, into cramped rows of boxed scenes creeping left to the right--only to snap back like a nagging cough!" (Here Tehura's own line of panels snaps back for the first time. She apparently finds this grid of squarish panels so unnatural she needs to explain it to Sphinxian readers)

"Human time*'s a line or a silly grid--never ANY of time*'s other stances:" (and suddenly Tehura starts acting out her examples)

"A sine to follow" (with this lame pun, she kinks her tail into a sine wave and stares at it cross-eyed)

"Some times* time* flies" (as she spreads her wings)

"Time* seems like a playful friend" (as a kitten paws at her hair)

"A parabolic pounce, like the leap and fall of human empires" (and she can't resist acting out the pounce)

"A come-hither catenary curve" (and she concaves her back as if she's a suspension bridge... or in heat)

Tehura the sphinx crouches and raises her tail seductively. Dream sketch by Wayan; click to enlarge.
"Time* sometimes* steps up to a new level" (as she steps out of one panel into another time)

"Or time* stands still" (as one hind paw stays in the old panel)

"Or time* trails away" (as her tail coils round the panel-borders, infiltrating three timezones)

"Or life*'s a spiral, uncoiling" (as Tehura curls and stretches sexily on her back, turning herself into a logarithmic spiral)

Tehura the sphinx rolls on her back and curls into a logarithmic spiral. Dream sketch by Wayan; click to enlarge.
"And the two most important shapes of time/life: 1: the FRIZZ of branching maybes, the many-fruited tree we all climb daily in our dreams." (Sphinxes nap and dream around the clock) "You bipeds call the infinite branches of time the Many-World Theory--yes, THEORY! Only a few physicists and maniacs ponder it; the rest dismiss it as "against common sense": they deny their own DREAMS!" (as Tehura lets her hair blow in the timewind, and small possibilities emerge from her split ends)

Tehura the sphinx in profile with hair frizzing into tiny figures. Dream sketch by Wayan; click to enlarge.
"...and 2: the HELIX! The bee-line of progress, fused to the wheel of return! Surely the sheer elegance and ubuiquity of helices would suggest... but no! Bipeds only recognize GENETIC spirals, not the helical ascension of our larger lives*." (In Sphinx, her phrase implies an easy expanding rise, riding time/life as a hawk rides a thermal. She rears and twists into a graceful helix to illustrate...)
Tehura the sphinx in profile with wings raised, pen in paw.  Click to enlarge.
A tiny note in glyphs near the end shows Tehura is already bored with our linear time, our linear life. As she kicks at the last few panel-borders, bending and finally splintering them, she scrawls,

"I'm getting TIRED of all these WALLS!"

But then, really... aren't we all?

Tehura the sphinx crouching, pawing at an hourglass.


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