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Darby Pops Off: “Refuge” by Karen Cook

Written by Kristine Chester | No Comments | Published on June 24, 2016
The content that follows was originally published on the Darby Pop Publishing website at http://www.darbypop.com/darby-pops-offs/darby-pops-off-refuge-by-karen-cook/

When I read a comic book, I unplug from the world around me. Until that issue is complete, an overflowing inbox, a large list of to dos and chores, can all wait. It’s a  respite in the midst of a work-filled day. I imagine comics provide that break for many people. Among them is our guest writer for the week, Karen Cook, who describes rather poetically how comics are hers and her family’s refuge.

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Until next time,


I must have freedom, creativity, no schedule (sans appointments), meditation, reflection, comfort, and joy. I try not to work outside the home, but when and if I do, it’s to volunteer as I choose. There is no definition of my life. I’m on sabbatical, without compromise.

I’m not insinuating that I’m sitting on a stack of cash; quite the opposite. Life for me is simple, quiet, designed for my adult children, dogs, and me. At this moment, with the radio playing in the background, I hear birds, talking neighbors, laughing children. I smell floral air, wafting BBQs. I feel warmth in sunlight. Reality sets in, after nirvana, as the mailman drops off bills, a newspaper with headlines of narcissistic leaders, fights for equality, hatred hidden as security and care; fear. A world neither good nor bad.

And there — as my refuge — comics, wrapped in thick plastic, bright colors peeking through, known to my sight, as the wrapping comes off, that indistinguishable paper feel, that of smooth, shiny material, with words, spectrums of light, enthusiasm for the senses. The great escape — comics. I take in elaborate formations of pictures that compliment words. The joy in reading an ongoing story; the thrill of the wait, while my imagination goes wild. This I adore. Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there is the writer gone awry to fill in for story gaffs (“Steve Rogers” #1 – Egad).

What a glorious medium, as our world around us is that of a silo — with high alerts, home grown violence, financial disregard, and every being for themselves. This description calls out for a hero. It is human nature to want to fight for the right of the fallen comrade. Support in every ounce of one’s being, locking arms with one another, to help those with less strength to rise. All seriousness aside, my brother, son, nephew, daughter, niece, and I just had an enthusiastic discussion about superheroes, manga, plots, how intricate and sophisticated comics are and always have been. We laughed at my inability to pronounce “Manga” properly, and the vast difference in decades of ages that give way to various points of view.

Readers have the power to weed out poorly executed, mundane, same old same old, grandiose capitalistic comics. Those that have sold out will be weeded out through attrition, and fresh, eager, creative, gut-on-fire writers and artists will take over with capes and humble words as the reader, holding in hand, escapes to worlds embedded in our neatly compartmentalized minds, awaiting fuel for the fire.

For others, the need for funny, one-liners takes precedence, silly works by an elementary student — professional, as well as those struggling to hold a pencil, unable to walk, mimicking drawing as the highest form of flattery. The sum of my words assimilates comics to every genre, yet speaking to the individual. Poignantly.

I am going to go, feed my two Labrador Retrievers. They think they are living out a comic adventure that involves sleeping, ball catching, car rides, and food. I call it – A good life.

About the Author

Karen Wallace Cook, is a freelance writer, and researcher. She currently is involved in meditation, mindfulness, and behavior research. She is the proud mother of 21 year-old twins and two Labrador retrievers. She is interested in music, reading, cooking, plays, art and is a political junkie. She has a secret obsession for binge watching on Netflix while cracking peanuts and drinking ginger ale. It’s her thug life.