October 10, 2012

Who I'm Really Afraid Of

Ever since I started making my desktop picture Photoshop collages, I've done something a little bit different with the October collages. Instead of selecting random images based on a word or phrase, I create the October collage to represent a scary person.

Jack Valenti Summoning Cthulhu, October 2002
Karl Rove: Puppetmaster, October 2003

This year, I've had a hard time coming up with a subject for my October collage. It's not that there aren't plenty of scary people in the world. But I haven't been able to think of anyone who truly scares me the same way past collage subjects did. I began to wonder why this was so.

One thing I noticed, looking back at past collages, was that none of these people scare me anymore. Heck, I couldn't even remember Jack Valenti's name until I looked up the blurb on my web site archive. It's like all my past monsters have been, not slain, but diminished. They've lost their power to inspire fear.

Tower of the Neocons, October 2004
Jim DeMint's House of Horrors, October 2005

Finally, I realized something: at the time I made each of these collages, I felt that their subjects' power was underestimated. What made these people scary to me was not just their ideas or their agendas, but the fact that they were power-hungry and almost no one seemed concerned about checking that power.

The World According to Glen Beck, October 2010
(Yes, I'm aware there's a significant gap in my ouvre.)

Since I made each of these collages, the people in them have all either been fired, retired, or acknowledged as a threat (sometimes all three). Nobody underestimates their ability to manipulate or their lust for power anymore.

And that's why I'm having trouble thinking of a subject for this year's October collage. Bashar al-Assad? He's a scary guy, but he's also got half the world trying to stop him. Texas Judge William Adams? Also scary, but also a known quantity. Plus, since this is about people I personally am afraid of, I do have to consider that a judge in a distant state has very little power to affect my life.

When it comes right down to it, there are only two people I can think of who really, honestly, scare me, and I don't know that either of them are a fit subject for a picture collage. The first is an unnamed North Carolina social worker who took a friend's child away; I don't have any way to get a picture of her to use for the collage. The second is a local businessperson who's running for political office, and I'm leery of vilifying someone I occasionally see around town (I live in a very small town), even though I know this wouldn't be the first time she's been portrayed negatively.

I'll keep trying to come up with a truly scary person to immortalize in pixels before the month is over. On the one hand, it's good not to be afraid. But on the other hand, it's bad for my art.


  1. What an interesting idea! I am sitting here thinking about who would scares me! You are right, lots of scarey people out there..

  2. I'm afraid of the Electoral College.

  3. Replies
    1. Scalia has some scary ideas, but I kind of feel like he's peaked. He's getting old, and besides, everyone's fully aware he's like a washing machine with one towel in it... unbalanced. ;)

  4. How cool. Your collages are really creative.