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An Animalistic Dream Story
By The Editors
We've gotten into the long march of winter where the cold, wind, and ice won't seem to end. There's no holiday cheer to save us, only more frosty misery. At least we have books to console us. For your next huddle-up-and-hibernate title, we recommend Moon Beans by Helen Sánchez Stoddard (yes, our founder's sib!). Moon Beans is a dreamy, black-and-white, coming-of-age comic now available on Blurb. It's only 48 pages long, but it's a meditative read, so expect to linger. For a taste, take a gander at these sample panels and check out what the creator has to say about the surrealistic style and content:
How would you describe Moon Beans in a sentence?
It explores a state of surealism, almost multi-dimensional, of family dynamics. It's narrarated by way of a three-person conversation: a college boy, a high school girl, and this other narrarator that you learn to grasp. It's very scattered and left up to the interpretation of the reader.
What's the origin story for how, where, when, and why you started making Moon Beans?
This was Fall 2013. I had been reading a lot of Charles Burns and fell in love with his comic Black Hole during my senior year at Virginia Commonwealth University. I had also been experiencing fairly regular sleep paralysis back then, so maybe that had some sort of influence. Anyway, I was working a lot of hours at this restaurant in downtown Richmond, Virginia, and one day I doodled at the host stand when there was downtime and we were slow on customers. I kind of honed in on the ideas of sleep paralysis and sleep walking and created my first character right there at the host stand. I think the character was roughly based off me and my personal experience with weird bedtime rituals and happenings.
About a week later, my friend Zoë Dehmer, who was a staff member at our university newspaper, The Commonwealth Times, suggested that I create a weekly comic strip for publishing. A contributing artist had just dropped out and she knew that I drew a lot and thought I would be a great fit. I told her that I had a vague concept to work off of. She trusted me from the get-go and that's how Moon Beans began. I'm really not sure if it would've ever happened if I hadn't had a public outlet like that. Like once I started, I felt it was my duty to contribute every week.
Each week for about half a year, I would create a five panel piece to be continued. Each panel was handdrawn and scanned in. It added about an extra 4-5 hours a week of "homework" to my regular school workload, but it was completely worth it. I got a lot of friends hooked and many random university students I never met in person would sometimes inbox me to tell me how much they enjoyed reading my comic and were excited for the next week's edition. I had a following and it was exciting!
I approach a lot of my artworks with an idea and then let it organically shift and shape with new information I learn along the way. By this, I mean that I had ideas for each week of Moon Beans, but I almost allowed the comic to teach me and just...flow.
Moon Beans is written in a stream of consciousness, poetic style. I think this allowed me to be free.
What do you hope readers will think, feel, and experience while reading Moon Beans?
I've always been inspired by artwork that allows you to think outside the box. I love surrealism, I love drama, I love chaos. Human emotions of desire and jealousy are raw, animalstic even. They're instinctive. We crave companionship and validation. They're a driving force in what I wanted to express through this comic. I want to allow some self-reflection for readers, to have them feel out of their element or confused, even. Again, there's a storyline but it is told in snippets, like a dream.
Get your copy of Moon Beansby Helen Sánchez Stoddard on Blurb.
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