Monday, July 28, 2008


I'm back from the San Diego Comic Con. While there I scored a copy of the book Comix: A History of Comic Books in America by Les Daniels. It came out in 1971 and featured a lot of then-current underground comics. I had it when I was a kid and lost it long ago. One of my favorite things in the book was the Mr. Natural comic by Robert Crumb that I have scanned and put up today. Click on it and it will open up bigger.

This is one of the first of Crumb's Mr. Natural strips. Here he is clearly called "Mr. Natural the Zen Master." Later on his designation as a Zen Master was dropped. But it's pretty clear that Crumb was referencing Zen teachers with Mr. Natural. Since he lived in San Francisco at the time he started doing the strips, I've often suspected he may have attended some of Shunryu Suzuki's talks or perhaps even had some relationship with Suzuki, Katagiri, Kobun Chino or others from San Francisco Zen Center. I don't know for certain.

Crumb usually gets it right, though, with the dialog he puts in Mr. Natural's mouth. My first teacher, Tim McCarthy was a big fan and I almost consider Mr. Natural himself as an early Zen teacher. He's often far better than supposedly legitimate books written about the subject. In this little strip he sets a very good example.

I had fun at the con. Didn't do a whole lot of what you might call "business," though I did get one deal sorta happening. We'll see if that materializes. Of course, I'm talking about my film biz work, not Zen. I was surprised to see, though, that Deepak Chopra attended the con plugging some sort of "spirituality in the comics" thing. Ha! Maybe I can get him interested in the often talked about but never acted upon graphic novel adaptation of Hardcore Zen.

I saw lots of Jedi knights there. Those robes are so close to Zen robes it's funny. I shoulda worn mine. I'd've fit right in with all the other geeks. Of course, in most senses that matter Zen people are precisely like comic book/sci-fi geeks. They do exactly the same things. And when they get together they act exactly the same way — always trying to out-geek the other geeks.

The thing with sci-fi geeks is that at home they're usually the only guy who's an expert in, like, Klingon syntax or whatever. Then when they get together with a bunch of geeks, suddenly their uniqueness is threatened. The response is to try and recover that uniqueness by out-geeking the other geeks. Totally the same thing happens in Zen places. It's hilarious! At some Zen factories (Eiheiji, Sojiji and all the rest included) it's even institutionalized with stuff like color coded rakusus (bib thingies that Zen geeks wear) to show you at a glance who's higher on the scale of Zen geekdom.

One day when the Jedi knights get their stuff more together maybe they'll have retreat centers and all the rest too. The San Diego Convention Center will become a place of holy pilgrimage. Hey, stranger things have happened. Look at Scientology.


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Anonymous said...

bardan, jinz is right about one thing. you are a stylish writer. too bad about your interest in buddhism tho. it'll fuck your writing up eventually.. or maybe not.

michael bardan said...

the draft [breeze] smells of sh!7, fret not too much about it, just surf with it.

@point loma nazarene there's public access to the beach and dogs are allowed at least 1/2 of the year. the steep stairs down the rock face lead to 10 ft swell:z and you are here reading instead of paddling in the water.

as the hawaiian:z say:

widah is bettah!

FruitFly said...

bzzzzzzz - bzzzz - bzzzzzz

bzzz bzzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

He pissed me off at first
Then I thought he was wrong
Then I thought he was nuts
Then I thought he was funny
Then I thought he was inspired
Now I think he's a real nice guy
I would hang out with him
Better yet sit together
He's as real as anyone!

NellaLou said...

There's always somebody real on the other side of the text.

Swami HTR said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
"Now that you have successfully co-opted Zen _from_ this generation are you actually going to do anything about it?"
"Endless self-promotion, I mean come on now... Let's fucking do something interesting and expressive, let's be Zen in the face of the NWO. Let's fucking move into a totally in way of thinking..."

Who is us?

Who are you?

Who, Anonymous Anonymous, do you think you are?

Is your thinking errant?

Anonymous Anonymous speaks with authority from the veil of cowardice anonymity. And even one of the sangha is expected to grant Anonymous Anonymous an atom of veracity?

Swami Hooya Thinkya R. sez:

"go screw yourself, and the horse you rode in on."

Anonymous said...

"go screw yourself, and the horse you rode in on."

hmmm.. nice job grandpa. this phrase is as good as carbon dating.

Anonymous said...

go screw yourself, and the horse you rode in on you young grafitti tagging bastard.

Anonymous said...

got to love mysterion..

Anonymous said...

Screwing things up is a virtue. Being correct is never the point.

事をねじで締めることは美徳である。 正しい決してポイントではない。

The fact that thing is tightened with the screw is virtue. It is not the correct never point.

michael bardan said...

i didn't get to climb stonewall yesterday. instead i gots me the iPhone 3G.

riddle me this, why wake up at 2 AM like clockw0rk regardless of how untired of anti-so be? [yoda speak especial mui bien 4 papa warner bro:z]

now *yaza*

qbitty said...

WTF is Niggah:Z Without Order?

michael bardan said...

it's easy to be enlightened on top of a tall mountain/zafu and cloaked by an authoritative keyboard/robe.

but try the fuck trotting amongst hyena pimp:z and suicide girlie:z, then you'll finally understand the value of being an opaque and untranslucent endarkened hedgehog cross my heart and polinate your black sheep.

/clappers 0n - begin morning z@z3n peri0d:


qbitty said...

/clappers 0ff

don't give me that look! i saw you out with Dog yesterday...

your:z purring,

Anonymous said...

For those who have finished the path: You don't belong here. But you can stay.

For those who haven't: Go away form this comment section, it is misleading and unhealthy.

I hope that those poor suffering guys (or is it just one bardan/z0tl/abitty/whatever guy?) will get their medication and/or some psychotherapy soon.


Thing 1 said...

No S Michael. That Cat in the hat told the fairy story for the kids. The truth is my brother from another mother and I never did do the cleaning that Seuss reported. Life is full of pink stuff spreading and spreading, dripping from the walls and infecting the blood of babies. See the beauty in that, I freaking dare you. Argue right action with some N* about to cap your ass.

We are what we are from karma. Our natural inclinations head one way then some freak pounds down with kum bye ya buddhist rules. There's the hypocracy.

Because it is what it is, the lion is violent violent. Will shred you up soon as look at you. Can Zen embrace the death dealing kitty? It must. Can Zen embrace the jerk. It must. Can Zen embrace the pious, zen-machine asshole? It must. Can zen embrace the gentle? It must.

The freedom is that everything belongs. There really is no injustice going on. Death is safe. The stick hurts when it whacks your back. You do have choice. Be nicer next time.

jamal said...

"Argue right action with some N* about to cap your ass. "

thing, that was a classic politically correct racist buddhist rant. and being a human, it hurt me, as did the anon who wants to strap a chemical strait jacket on my boy z0tl just because he got dirty feet.

michael bardan said...

now we're working on jod [tim] da'ath teisho point #1:

they have a permission complex. they need permission for everything.

like those who have "finished the path" you may stay, because anon says you don't belong here, but still, you have its permission to observe.

below that point is slipping again in the turpitude of #2 weakness: validating against lower forms - i can TELL YOU what to do, if you ain't done walking MY path and/or you're a poor sap like z-dawg.

bro, you aren't even worthy of a cap in the knee:z, dying the gr8 death is as far from you as your body is from the background radiation of the Big Bang.

ps: jamal, defend, yes, defend z0tl, no.

Anonymous said...

just walk out of it. do you see people validating against forms? just walk out of that way of seeing.

Anonymous said...

"For those ...But you can stay...."

Sigh! GAL

Thing 1 said...

Part of the point is that there is a whole world of people for which that (and words and actions like it) is the venacular, accepted, language, as distasteful as it may be. It is real, it is now.

The pious might call "them" ignorant. That, I think, is a mistake. A semantic distancing. A dichotomy of "wrong" and "right."

As we open the rule book we find most of the world is doing "it" terribly wrong by a book-to-action judgment. Grapple with the meaning of that.

Judge not. Take the best right action you can muster as you take an action.

Can we not speak of the world as it is, using language that is used? Can we not say what *they* say?

No offense was intended, and my apologies for the pain you felt directly.

Anonymous said...

Brad, which temple did you visit when you went over to Japan? Where you met Nishijima Roshi..

Anonymous said...

Me too.

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