I want my cancer cells dead. Not just dead. When I visualize my white blood cells destroying my cancer cells my imagination tends to get pretty violent. I like to visualize a lot of ripping and tearing and lots of bits of dead cancer cell pieces floating around waiting for my macrophage cells (or other team members) to come around to clean them up (eat ’em). The problem now is it’s not just about me. If I wasn’t trying to share my visions with others I wouldn’t give it a second thought. My visualizations are still going to be violent when I’m doing it for my own cancer therapy. What color “blood” do cancer cells bleed… probably should think about this a bit before I start coloring…
Now I’m sharing my ideas visually with everyone else and we all have various degrees of tolerance when it comes to violence. While I don’t think too many people would get upset over a graphic illustration of cancer demons getting torn to shreds by our amazing white blood cell team, if too graphic it could turn them off enough to want to avoid my imagery in the future. In that scenario I’m defeating the purpose of my art therapy for others. Obviously if someone is turned off to the graphic nature of my drawings I’ve just alienated them right out the door. Even if they like the concept, they won’t benefit from it at all. Just because I didn’t dial it down a little bit.
On the other hand, part of my cancer therapy, besides the actual visualization, is the process of drawing my characters doing what I picture them doing inside inside of me. I think the best example I can give is the Natural Killer Cell. When I decided to bring my visions to paper, I had to decide which white blood cells would make the cut. Part of these decisions were base on how bad-ass the cells were and what their “powers” were. The NKC was a no-brainer. Based on my extremely limited understanding (feel free to help school me in the comments if I get something wrong), this cell injects enemies with a cytotoxic protein soup that eats them from the inside out! This is gross and amazing and I want to draw it! THAT’S the problem. If it were just for me most of my illustrations would probably run along the lines of the drawing above. I’ve already established my desire to create two coloring books… one for adults and older kids, and one for younger kids. There’s no problem for the creation of the younger kids coloring book. There will be no violence (implied only) and the characters won’t be too scary. Even the cancer monsters will be dumbed-down to come across as more silly than scary. This isn’t a problem. I want to create a book for younger kids too… but it’s not the passion project that I had in my head when I started this project. My passion… my vision… for this project was definitely for adults.
If there were ratings for coloring books (there isn’t is there?) my adult coloring book will either be rated PG or PG-13. The idea of ramping it up to a MA crossed my mind, but to be honest that probably would have ended up being too violent even for me. In the middle of the process now, I guess there’s a line I don’t want to cross in terms of graphic brutality, but I REALLY want the satisfaction of drawing the cancer creatures getting annihilated. As we continue moving forward, there will be some of you out there with opinions and some of you who would be willing to share those opinions. I’d appreciate hearing them. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, and some of it is going to be violent, but maybe this is a case of trying to avoid too much of a good thing. Every page doesn’t have to be brutal, but some will be. Trying to find that comfortable middle-ground is the game now and if you have thoughts or ideas to share on the matter please do. In the meantime, I’ll try not to let it get too dark or too far off the deep end. Until next time, later tater.