On Saturday night, for some reason I felt bloated, kept getting up to relieve myself, and slept badly. The best part of this dull tale is that my mind started instantly to turn these feelings of discomfort into a cartoon. In my semi-conscious state, they became a dinosaur – an unhappy ‘bloatosaurus’. My brain started to ruminate vaguely on silliness such as; was it bloat that killed off the dinosaurs? What about a bloatosphere? Does this exist? What would this look like?…(lovely uncensored playful nonsense!). The next day, I drew this into my comics diary along with a bird of course. The birds are always there – in cartoon and reality (thank goodness – they make me hopeful). 

The brain is plastic (this much we know from mindfulness studies that illustrate a re-engineering of brainwaves after mindfulness training) – it is malleable and changes depending on what you do with it. 

This summer, I have the good fortunate of being mentored by cartoonist Simone Lia and theorist and comics creator Nicola Streeten. It occurs to me that this plastic brain could perhaps be observed in the different styles of mentoring. Simone Lia is all about the funny – ‘it’s essential to have funny friends’ and ‘to play.’ This is her life, as her brain spends the time finding the funny in relationships and building the funny in the comics work. Streeten is also a wonderful and funny human being, yet her mentoring technique was helpful critique and constructive questioning with a neo-liberal (her term…not sure what this means…?) feminism flavour. This is not surprising considering her PhD is on this and she is currently writing lectures on feminism. The brain is plastic – we form it in the way we use it. 

Nicola Streeten seems to be on a mission to help change the world with feminism and sociocultural awareness, even mentioning that later my comics would include diversity and other sociocultural concerns. I doubt it. My focus is on finding the funny – on using humour to lighten my life and the life of others. This is a rather different mission and my brain plastic will form around this. 

I feel especially lucky to be doing a practice-based PhD with the chance to re-engineer my brain. I’m starting to think of the brain like the character Morph! Yes, I know…can’t stop thinking in cartoon characters! Mostly, I’m very excited that my brain is thinking funny even in semi-consciousness. It is being reconfigured and remade. This was always my dream with this PhD to become a different kind of thinker! Yay!


Postscriptum 24.07.2020: 

I mentioned both Bloaty and feminist critique to my novelist friend Deborah who later emailed this: 

“You think in cartoons and I think in fictional conversations:
Feminist Cartoon Theorist: You’re too cute.
Bloaty the Bloatosaurus: That’s just the way I am.
FCT: How old are you, anyway?
BtB: Around 100 million years.
FCT: But you haven’t even got a wrinkle on you. You’re not real.
BtB: Of course I’m not real. I’m a cartoon dinosaur.
FCT: I mean, you’re not authentic.
BtB: I’m a genuinely cute cartoon dinosaur.
FCT: Are you male or female?
BtB: I have no idea. Does it matter?
… etc”

Perhaps further evidence for the plasticity of the brain which depends on its use. I never think in fictional conversations, but I am beginning to turn everything into cartoons and strips.

This little conversation is perhaps worthy of a comic strip..? 

Thank you my friend Deborah!