In the summer of 2013, I had been on a holiday along the coast of Oregon, and in search of warm sandy beaches we stopped in at a little town called Rockaway Beach. We arrived just in time to watch an old steam-train stop right in the middle of town, like something out of a western.
My remembered impression of the area was that it was a sort of a resort town. Or a series of them, perhaps, all along the coast; the kind of places you might take the kids during Summer Break. It was July, so it was hot and sunny, but the breeze and mist rolling in from the ocean created a flux of dry heat and cool damp.
Crossing beyond the rows of resort motels, condos, shops, and quirky tourist traps, the long stretches of sandy golden beach spread out as far as the eye could see running north and south into the far off mist. Where I live, our beaches are sheltered by islands, but here it was just the great tumbling walls of the pacific before us and nothing else.
The twin rocks were quite a striking sight, even at a distance. I remember feeling a sense of awe as I studied them, as though I’d wandered into a dream. I had at times painted landscapes as concept art for video games, and in doing that you can get away with dashing out the strangest landmarks as throwaway scenery (mile high pillars and floating islands are a common cliche). Seeing something like that with my own eyes, however, was entirely mesmerizing. It felt like it couldn’t possibly be real.
I’d seen many landscape features on that trip that had the same effect. Especially Haystack Rock and the other giants like it.
I sat in the sand there and drew a sketch of the twin rocks in the distance, but vowed to paint the full scene at a later time and make it part of some kind of travel journal.
I still have sand from Rockaway Beach and nearby Cannon Beach in my book bag; and some in between the pages of the sketchbooks I bought at Powell’s City of Books in Portland. I still don’t feel like shaking out the bag.
After finishing the initial painting, I decided I’d try out a concept I’d been sitting on for a while now. The “b-side”.
I’d wanted to take the concept of musical “b-sides” into my art – particularly in the way I release graphic novels. I wanted certain panels to have “b-sides” that gave you a different perspective on a scene that might otherwise diverge from the narrative. I’d imagined mini-meta-narratives emerging, or at least some pretty absurd stand-alone ideas.
In this case, I decided I’d do a B-side to Rockaway Beach by throwing the Ramones in there. Why? Because they sang a song called Rockaway Beach about a totally different Rockaway Beach, and I think that’s absurd and hilarious.