On Chapter Six and Problematic Faves

So, here’s a thing about my writing process for YOUTHFRONT: the world and the relationships between chapters are complex enough that I err towards writing every chapter a couple of months in advance of publication. This gives me time to go back and make edits on immediately preceding chapters based on subtle changes or things that emerge later on.

As a result, I never really know what world a chapter will be born into until I do my final edits for publication.

Today’s chapter was one I had a lot of fun writing, trying to tie together some questions I’ve been asking myself about embracing problematic people and reconciling the fact that someone does good work with the fact that someone has something wicked inside of them.

You can likely imagine how strange it would be to edit such a piece in the wake of our current cultural ‘moment.’ Now that a few influential white men have finally experienced condemnation (if not consequence) for their misbehavior, there’s a huge push to silence victims. People want to shove the genie back into the bottle.

That’s never okay. It’s understandably difficult to reconcile one’s love of a creator or one’s faith in a thought leader with mounting evidence of their misbehavior. Nobody wants to believe that the path to something they love has been paved in part with evil.

I don’t think that’s a problem any of us really get out of, and I don’t think it’s productive to try. Purity is a distraction. Accepting the inevitability that we are tainted frees up the time we would spend convincing ourselves otherwise. Instead, we need to focus on listening to survivors and victims. We need to figure out what we can do to concretely make things better for the people our societal failures put at risk.

I don’t believe in punishment for its own sake. The fabric of our moralities is too absurd and fragile to serve as its own justification for suffering. If someone behaves monstrously, that is a problem to be solved. We should seek to contain and correct misbehavior- not enact cruelty upon it.

At the same time, the rhetoric of ‘forgiveness’ quickly becomes a shield for the powerful. I do not oppose forgiveness in theory. But I do oppose how the rhetoric of forgiveness is only deployed on behalf of those who have already built the structure of our society to defend them. I oppose the fact that America can find its way to forgive a serial abuser when it is politically convenient but fail to forgive even imaginary slights from the people we oppress.

When we magically ‘discover’ our better nature only when it lets us indulge our worse nature, we make a mockery of our deepest principles.

Today’s piece captures some of this, though through a fractured lens. NASCARnage is, like many of us, a man twisted up and confused inside, trying to find the path of least monstrosity. He finds himself trailing a few lost leads along the way. We need not forgive him but it will help us to understand his travels.

Feral Melodies Concept Art

NIMROD TZARKING

Now that YOUTHFRONT is up and running, I’ve decided to resurrect an old project to complete on the side. Feral Melodies is an illustrated bible that my friend and I spent some time developing until our illustrator had to move on to other things. I’ve let it languish for a little while, but looking over my old notes I decided I had to give it another go.

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As you can probably guess from the image above, I wasn’t our first pick for illustrator. I am, frankly, pretty shit at art but I’ve decided not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good in this case. Better to end up with an overly ambitious mess than nothing at all, right?

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Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, readers. I’m very pumped that Chapter 4.3 comes out today. These early chapters were all written over the summer and so it’s pure luck that today’s chapter worked out to include monsters, fast food zombies and seething Gammon Gravy. Give Agent Litework’s latest chapter a look, and please remember to follow or subscribe on social media.

YOUTHFRONT Assembles

Afternoon, super-pals. The YOUTHFRONT kids finally meet each other for the first time in today’s update. Torchbearer, SlumberJack and Wunderkind are introduced to their new colleagues, I Am Your Dad and Little Boy Red Snow.

In my opinion, the team really starts to work once the kids are all brought together. I hope y’all agree! Check out today’s new chapter, and please don’t forget to hit subscribe.

Also, be sure to tune in next week to see Faye and Mina figure out what to do with their new HOMEFRONT captive… and how to keep the monstrous Brundelzebuub from making things worse.

Chapter 3.1 DOES exist!

My bad, folks. As I was submitting tomorrow’s update I noticed that last Tuesday’s update wasn’t showing up in the ‘read from beginning’ or ‘latest update’ sections. I checked it out and discovered I’d accidentally miscategorized Roxanne’s latest chapter. Sorry for those who went looking and missed out but hey, now you can enjoy two ‘new’ chapters back-to-back tonight and tomorrow!

As always, thanks for your time and energy, guys. Seeing and hearing from readers makes this project all the more worthwhile.