A Heart Made of Glass Chapter 1: Your Own Company
This is my first ever webcomic, first put on the web back in 1997. It was intended to be a print book, but I discovered some budding webcomickers and felt like the amateur quality was better suited for the web. Unfortunately this was also scanned back in 1997 when I really didn’t know how a scanner worked. I’ve been meaning to rescan the artwork but in the meantime here it is as it was published 19 years ago. I also included some commentary I wrote for the book a long time ago.
You can scroll down to read, or click on any page to make it appear in a gallery lightbox.
Before I begin this, you should know that this is pretty self-indulgent stuff. Not reading this won’t hurt your understanding of the basic story–you can skip right ahead to Book 2 and be none the wiser.
If you haven’t skipped ahead, well welcome to my notes… a look back at what the heck compelled me to work on AHMOG in the first place. Believe it or not, since AHMOG first showed up on the internet on March 26, 1998, I get asked that a lot. In an online comic world filled with cyberpunk, romance, mechanical fighting, and fantasy, comes a little comic that is just autobiographical. A guy gets dumped, and tries to come to terms with it. That’s it. No half-naked ladies, no blood. Yet, for some reason, I get heartfelt letters about the project. It’s been nominated for an online comic award. Another online anime zine is doing a spotlight on it. Myself, I don’t think it deserves the attention, but you just never know what people like.
AHMOG is autobiography. I am Jon Heeren. The events unfolded pretty much as they occurred in the book, give or take a little artistic license to make it more dynamic as a comic book. For example, the phonecall was a lot longer than that, but phone calls in comic books are really dull to draw. Another point of difference is the Jon-Al conversation; that actually happened over the phone.
Why did I do AHMOG? Well I have to admit, it didn’t start out intentionally as an autobiography. I wanted to do a comedy in the style of “Maison Ikkoku,” with the defining event an event that actually happened to me–being dumped on Valentine’s Day. That’s why the lead is called Jon Heeren–Jon being my middle name, and Heeren for “hiren” (heartbroken). It wasn’t meant to be me, but it ended up being me. The book was entitled “Theme From the Bottle” (the bottle was the beer bottle, a play on a Phish song). However, as I got to page 5, a defining moment occurred in my life.
One of my friends, Patrick Hurley, was a friend of me and my roommate. Every Friday, we would go to Ethel’s lounge and drink. Heavily. Patrick was deep down, a very good guy, his heart was made of a combination of glass and gold. He was, however, a benevolent drunk. This made it very irriatating to deal with him. He invited me and my roommate to go with him to Las Vegas. I accepted, but declined later on when he fell off the wagon — I just didn’t trust him anymore.
A week after that, my roommate and Hurley were off to Las Vegas. They had an accident in New Mexico, and only my roommate returned alive.
TO describe the events of that week… December 25 to New Year’s 1998… I can’t. I found myself wandering around aimlessly, trying to deal with the loss of a friend, and much more. His death brought out the worst, the most selfish of instincts in people. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he had people who cared about him where there were none before. He suddenly had a half-dozen girlfriends (“pretenders to the throne” I would call them) who suddenly cared about Hurley, when they didn’t before. They outright rejected Hurley before. Now they loved him, perhaps in order to gain rights to some sort of “widow sympathy”.
“I shall never make a new friend in my life, though perhaps a few after I die.” — Oscar Wilde.
The mess was bigger than what I’m saying, I’m skimming over the details. In any case, I found myself with a lot of emotion to express, and my working on “Theme From the Bottle” as a means, and it began to turn into “A Heart Made of Glass”, the autobiography you just read.
I have a year to look back at what I’ve done and see what I’ve done. I have received a lot of positive comments about it, despite the heavy-handed emotional content, and the rather poor art. Some people have even attempted their own stories based on AHMOG. There’s nothing more I can do but thank you for reading it and making it this far.
I decided after 2 years, it was time to update the writer’s notes.
It seems like a lot has happened in my life since this comic was first started almost 4 years ago. And a lot has happened in the two and a half years since I wrote the last set of writer’s notes. However, as I said in the earlier notes, this is self-indulgent stuff so if you don’t want to read it, just skip ahead to the next chapter.
Looking back on this chapter, I felt really that I put a lot of blame on the Kelly character. In reality, I don’t have any blame on her at all. I understand why she did what she did, though I may not have liked it. In this book, we begin moments before the breakup. It doesn’t talk about the doubts, the insecurities, the arguments or anything that happened before the breakup, which is kind of misleading. It makes Jon look totally clueless and blameless. I wish I had focused more on the character traits that make Jon a difficult fellow to date. For example, the second phone call where Jon tries a variety of tactics (unsuccessfully) to manipulate Kelly into getting back together, like guilt, blame and sympathy. And the dream sequence illustrates that Jon has this dark cloud above his head, like he expects something awful to happen. These aren’t very good traits in a partner, and certainly not very fun to be with. If I had the chance to do this again, I’d focus more on why Jon is a difficult person to be with rather than make him as much of a victim as he appears to be.
To be honest, this was supposed to be a five book comic. I had the basic plotline for the books. The first book, which you just read, deals with my relationship with Kelly. The second book is Jon dealing with the loneliness and slowly forgetting about Kelly as he tries to reconcile his personality conflict between not wanting to be alone and the characteristics that make him be alone. That book is only partly finished. The third and fourth books deal with my relationships with two other girls: Tara and Brenna, the last of which changed my world forever into a really depressing path. The last book, was going to be a freeform book in which the character is led through a path of possibilities, kind of like “A Christmas Carol”, to make him try to understand that his biggest problem is not that no woman likes him — his problem is HE doesn’t like him. And he has to learn to live with himself before anyone can even possibly try to live with him.
I guess a lot of people have these same problems, which account for the fact that I still get mail for this, moreso than Sexy Losers or anything else I’ve ever done. This comic is still the most favorite thing I’ve written. Reading it is like looking at a photo album from a long time ago. I recommend everyone putting down their most private thoughts on paper and showing the world. It is only at that time can you be truly honest.
“A man’s very highest moment is, I have no doubt at all, when he kneels in the dust, and beats his breast, and tells all the sins of his life. “