Daytalking (from Completely in the Dark), Nightwalking (courtesy of ShinyRobot), and Stargazing (again, CITD).

Just You Wait and See

Michael Maupin
6 min readFeb 23, 2019


“Nothing” is always something. It’s just that sometimes you can’t see it.

“Small” says, “nothing is always nothing.”

“Big” says, “Just you wait and see.”

Expanding, going big. Or shrinking — and feeling small.

“Artists can be frustrating because they sift through a lot of ‘the nothing’ in search of The Something.”

This is where I’ve got to start, because I’ve struggled between those two states for most of my life. I try to create things even as I catch glimmers of what they might become beyond the blank paper, gessoed canvas, empty wall, computer screen with blinking cursor — through all the smoke, dust, and uncertainty. Artists can be frustrating because they sift through a lot of “the nothing” in search of The Something. That throws up a lot of smoke and dust and more uncertainty — and it isn’t a clean and easy process.

Which takes us back to the “small” and the “big”: fear (“uncertainty”) is small, courage (“sifting”) is large. The former drains you, burns like acid from inside, reducing you a cringing mess; the latter fills you to the top of your being, radiating out and wrapping its arms around the whole wide world.

So, here’s how I stumbled upon the artwork I created over 30 years ago, “The Something” that became known as The Vicious Frieze I–III (1987–1989), or, “A hallucinogenic cartoon of prodigious span.”

By the summer of 1986 I was a year into my first full-time job at a direct mail marketing corporation, and two months in my first apartment.

And I was already feeling trapped.

Which is ironic because during that year I was promoted to lead on our small team of a dozen editors. As lead, I had to make sure jobs stayed on schedule. Every December since 1985 I ordered desktop planning calendars — you know, the blotter pad kind — where I kept all the job deadlines at a glance. Growing bored with the job, I started doodling and scribbling in the calendar margins, sometimes around schedule notes.

As I came into the office each morning I found my coworkers huddled around my desk, laughing and checking out my latest “artwork.”



Michael Maupin

Writer, editor, and media maker. Blogs at Completely in the Dark ( and lives in Minneapolis, MN. I notice things.