The Rise

Disclaimer: I am not sure how familiar you all are with comic book culture. However, the following Superman references are Pop Culture so I am not asking anyone to dig deep for the metaphor.

If Superman is known for nothing, it is for saving something or someone. For such a noble and notable service can anyone recall Superman ever being paid? Invited to dinner? A massage? Anything to demonstrate appreciation for the completion of selfless service that not just anyone can complete? I haven’t. Of course, I am not all knowing or above fault, so I am open to correction but I am relatively certain he was paid less times than he left empty pocketed…if tights had pockets.

What happened when Superman put on the glasses? He “became” Clark Kent. Regular square. 9 to 5er. He gets to have a girlfriend (who is crushing on his alter ego…but I digress) and he earns a check for services rendered. He doesn’t save the world. He works. He earns. He saves the world when he gets off.

I just got glasses. 

Backstory:I was nearsighted as a child and have apparently been ignoring it for most of my life. It all came to a head when I found my inability to read ingredients and instructions to be a consistent problem. I spoke to my Wife. She told me several times to go to the Optometrist. After the 3rd time I went. 

Here we are. 

The world looks different once you get clarity. I’m old and getting older. Alive? Yes. Young? Nah. Not really. I have been designing for roughly 17 years. Yeah. Hardly a hobby. We are well passed the point of passion when we assess this type of commitment. My life’s work is encompassed in those 17 years. The only time I played was when it was time to negotiate being paid. Short changing myself to get the job should have never become a standard but it did and -regret aside- I have learned. Reluctantly and at great cost…like my sight. Staring at monitors for 12+ hours a day for 17 years will have an impact for the worse. As a technologically saturated society, we have to start considering the long term effects of these type of habits. Professionally and personally. Totally separate topic…

Back to what I was saying…how do I factor my eyesight into the fee I charge for business cards? How do I explain to the person who wants the $100 t-shirt design that I can’t do it for that price anymore because I can’t really see like I used to and it’s more difficult for me now? How do I explain to the person that needs their logo done in a rush but doesn’t want to pay rush fees that I can’t even expedite your design and jump the cue because I’m having a problem reading my phone and the computer? Well…I have decided not to explain anything. I have decided to put on my glasses, accept the square clarity of Clark Kent, shoot my price and let somebody else save those worlds.

Enter Dark Kent. 

I used to be the evil Superman when I smoked cigarettes. I stopped doing that at the top of the year. Yup. A New Year’s Resolution kept for everyone that believes that to be an impossible feat. It made me more irritable. The last 9 months have been…complicated…but I pulled off just enough missions to keep me from shutting all production down completely. I promise you I still consider it daily. I’m spent. If I didn’t have such raw supporters and internal support, it would have been over. With that said, none of them can see for me. Eyes went bad doing the work. None of them can breathe or eat for me. I got sick eating improperly and suffocating myself w/ depressive habits like viewing self-employment as unemployment. None of them can feel for me. The hurt I ignore becomes the injury/illness I can’t run from. People see the pleasurable byproducts of my pain. I am not alone in this club. It’s not a pity party either. Some of the flyest aspects of some people’s lives come from the darkest tragedies’ of others. It’s all in the movies, music and anything media can afford us all. I just can’t afford to rock a cape and do it all for nothing or next to nothing any more. Not when I need glasses and money. Not when I need to earn like a Man. Not when saving worlds doesn’t pay well and no one is coming to save yours. Nah. Let me put on these glasses and crunch these numbers. They look much clearer now.

So…when you encounter Dark Kent next time we negotiate, please take that professionally and not personally. I have humbled myself to the point of being a bulletproof pushover and it’s costing me my Krypton.

Dark Kent will be a contributing author on this blog moving forward. He will focus on professional honesty as opposed to brutal honesty which only serves to brutalize. Thank you for reading.


Donald G Wooten April 28 at 12:17pm · 

I started this piece yesterday. I have described my vector practices as therapy in the past but yesterday I realized something profound.

My In-Laws are very religious. By that I mean, they adhere to Christianity in a devout fashion. Whether they know it or not, what binds them to the religion are not the practices but their spirituality. It’s what keeps them disciplined when they aren’t IN the church. It’s why they pray and sing continuously rhroughout the day and some of the night. It’s methodic and sustained. I was listening to the singing while drawing this illustration and cycling through my stages of obsession. That’s when it hit me. This is how I pray. This is how I meditate. This is how I communicate w/ the higher me. It isnt just therapy. It’s my religion.

Agreed I put my tithes in a collection plate w/ an Adobe logo on the bottom, it doesn’t make my attendance at the Church of Blazing Beziers any less faithful. I am a vector zealot. A Knight of Wacom. Pious w/ the pen tool.

The revelation made me feel less…well…maladjusted and more connected to my gift(s)…then ever before in my life. Mind you, I’m old and have been drawing forever. I believe, my mind has been troubled the entire time…so this is a pivotal moment for me.

Sure. $50K would make everything a lot better but The peace of mind to produce solutions is exponentially more valuable if you have the will to do just that. I have restored my will…my faith in me if you will…w/ the revelation that I pray when I draw. What I draw will not send me to hell. Not drawing anymore will set my Hell on Earth ablaze. I see that now.

No. This conclusion guarantees me nothing. What it does is cause me to take my life’s work as serious as I do my relationship w/ the creator. It’s not a hobby. Nor is my life. It is a gift and an obligation. I have a point and a purpose. I am not just an artist. I am a Sun, Brother, Husband, Father, Comrade and a pain in iniquity’s ass. I am also a proficient vector Illustrator that uses Adobe Illustrator at an expert level. This piece is just another example of how faithful I am to my craft which is an extension of my spirit and the signature of the Soul that I am.


I draw a lot of ppl who aren’t on this side of existence any more. I try to preserve them through the best possible image to base a memory off. I did not set out to be this but time and so many ppl leaving have allowed me to settle in this role organically. Despite how I lament about how far the top of my savings are from the bottom of my financial responsibilities, I balance myself on this role that I have assumed. Not sure if it will save my life but I do feel like it extends what I have been given in this life unto other lives.

This is my Man Juggie. Larger than life Eastwick MC. He transitioned last weekend. Suddenly. My Brother called me to let it be known. If he calls me late, I expect this kind of news. I could only say “We’re getting old” before I called around for more specifics. I called my man June. Low spirited, his voice filled me in on it not being a joke or rumor. I told him to send me pictures.

In the midst of my own world gently collapsing around me, I finished a client job and put another on hold to satisfy my obligation to the source of my talent. The same source that provides us all w/ lives through which we learn…and hopefully we get to live. I live through this art as do all of the subjects I draw…back onto this side. So I drew Juggie b/c no one wanted him to leave.

I don’t even want my Stellar Man book back, Cuz. Just build w/ God about that for me and leave the light on.

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