I don’t think there is a single word to describe what I’m feeling right now but it’s being very aware of the passage of time. Nostalgia is the closest word I can think of to describe this feeling but it’s not quite accurate. Nostalgia is looking back at the past with longing and reverence. Nostalgia is remembering the good times and forgetting the bad times. This isn’t that but it’s something like it.

It started with art; as a lot of things in my life do. Back in 2016 I drew my first “Dreams of Things” cover in my “Covers to Comic Books That Don’t Exist” series. I have other titles in that series but that is the one I’ve done the most of. I’m up to cover number 173 at the moment. That’s a lot. I’m coming close to the number 200 and I might get there this year. Approaching number 200 made me contemplate what to do with all these covers.

The first thing that came to mind was to make a digital or print on demand book of them. The main problem with that is demand is zero. But still I contemplate it. That brought me to the thought of how to look at the physical art of all these covers. They were in a pile in a cabinet just sitting there. A pile of 173 pieces of 11×17 inch paper isn’t easy to look through.

As I was looking for a solution to this problem online I ran across some 11×17 sleeve portfolios. These are the portfolios that have 30 plastic pages in them that each fits two piece of paper front and back. That makes a book of 60 pages. Normally these portfolios go for at least $15 a piece but these ones were four for $32. I decided to order a four pack.

When I got them I used three out of the four to put all 173 “Dreams of Things” covers in. That was easy enough. Now I could flip through the pages and watch time pass by as I went from 2016 until the present as the covers went by. Mission accomplished. But I still had one more book. I thought I may as well fill it. But with what?

I actually have four more of these portfolio books that I bought over the years. One for 11×17 inch photos of mine and three for art prints that I’ve made over the last 20 years. Two of the art print ones were filled up but the third was not nor was the photo one. So I dug through my files for prints and photos that never made it into those books.

I also have a new way that I’ve been storing art over the last couple of years. That is in big plastic 11×17 inch envelopes. I found them for a good price a while ago and filled them up with art but bought some more big plastic envelopes just a couple of months ago. The new ones didn’t have anything in them yet so I decided to use them, plus the 11×17 inch portfolios, to organize a lot of the drawings on paper that are hanging around my studio. This lead me down the memory path.

All last year I was working on my illustrated version of “The Great Gatsby.” That means that I have a lot of working drawings piled around the place. They all went into the envelopes. Being that the drawings were all different sizes up to 11×17 inches the envelopes worked better for storing my Gatsby stuff than the portfolios.

With the Gatsby and Dreams drawings out of the way that cleared the way for every other type drawing that I have. And there are a lot of them. I have “Swirl World” drawings and prints, “Painted Lady” covers, “Deep Space” covers, all the drawings from my prints, Message Tee drawings, and tons of other stuff with no big theme. I had to decide which of these were going into that fourth portfolio. Plus I had a bunch of prints and photos to put into those portfolios. I was digging though piles of drawings and finished prints.

Besides 11×17 inches my two main sizes of drawing paper are 9×12 inches and 6×9 inches. I have a lot of working drawings those two sizes. So as I’m going through the 11×17 inch drawings I naturally want to put the 9×12 ones in portfolios too. So I orders four of those for about $24. They arrived in a few days and I started filling them up too. More drawings to go through.

I learned back in my late 20s (in the 1990s) to put dates on my work. Before then I could just remember when I did things but time passes and memories become blurry so I found it best to write dates on things. But that dating didn’t extend to all my working drawings. At least not until about ten years later. So tons of my drawings from before about 2007 have no dates on them. Just memories. I could cross reference them with the finishes pieces (or their scans) but that’s something for the future.

So I’m sitting there going through piles of drawings and they are stirring up memories. When did I draw this one? What was this one for? I remember this drawing! I don’t remember this one at all. This one is from 2008. This one is from 2002 I think. Here is a whole series of drawings that I spent months on. Here are drawings from my comic that has been going on for a decade.

All the drawing tied to their own time. All of these drawings reminding me of the passage of time. They were once all in my present but now they’re in the past. Where did that time go?

I also chose to do all of this organizing of the past during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. As a football fan the Super Bowl is an event that always makes me aware of the passage of time. It’s the end of the football season and another year has gone by. I always get a little sentimental about time at the end of football season but I didn’t even realize that organizing my “Dreams of Things” drawing would lead me down that same path too.

So now I write this and wonder where all that time went. All these drawings were new once and now they’re sitting in unlooked at piles in a cabinet. At least some of them still are. I ordered four more 11×17 inch and four more 9×12 inch portfolios. At least if I can get them into those and they become books on shelves then I can look at them more easily. That might make the past come a little more alive. I’ll have to see.