When Life Hands You Lemons, Check For Lymes - Commentary

I picked up comic-making in elementary school, beginning with a Calvin and Hobbes-inspired "Mikey" series, Captain Underpants fan fiction, and a graphic novel series based on my pet anole lizards. By high school, I was still drawing comics, but they mostly took the form of inside jokes drawn on the backsides of homework assignments.

While studying art education at Goshen College, however, I began submitting weekly comics under the name "B-fast Gigz" to the school’s paper. In 2014, I self-published my first two comic books, "B-fast Gigz: An Eclectic Collection" and "Dumbsters," for my senior art show. The summer after graduating, I married my super-duper girlfriend Emma, and we embarked on a four-month honeymoon to New Zealand, which is where I began creating my book, When Life Hands You Lemons, Check For Lymes. I’ve contributed excerpts from that book with commentary here.

Contributing weekly comics to the college newspaper made me comfortable with the pacing of the single-page comics that influenced the format of my book. I also found the endeavor of writing a full-length graphic novel less daunting when I broke it down into bite-sized pieces. In the full version, each comic is supported by a different graphic such as a map, landscape sketch, or related joke. The looseness and unpredictability of these supporting graphics balances the more formal structure of the story. The details within the story have an "in the moment" feel, which is no coincidence. At least half of the comics were drawn within a month of the depicted event’s actual occurrence. I believe that although more wisdom could perhaps be drawn from the pages had the book been written more retrospectively, this approach would come at the cost of sacrificing the book’s day-to-day authenticity.

I believe comics have a unique magic to them. When pairing that perfect snapshot image with words, comics can often pinpoint a specific feeling in a way books, wordless art, or even movies cannot accomplish. When scrolling through the internet’s tidal wave of memes, I notice I’m not alone in this appreciation, either.

About the Author

Phil Gerigscott

Phil Gerigscott recently finished up his first year as an elementary art teacher in Goshen, Indiana and is now living in Portland, Oregon where his wife will be pursuing an MFA at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Since finishing his graphic novel, Phil has been feverishly painting strange half-naked characters on old pieces of wood, reviewing music for Independent Music News, and has even recorded a Lyme-inspired album written on an ’87 Casio synthesizer titled B. burgdorferi. Phil is currently in the beginning stages of writing a collaborative book and is excited to see where else he might find inspiration in this new chapter of life.