April 29

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Flavors of Summer by Ira Marcks

Like a recipe, the perfect summer can be conjured with the right ingredients. Here are my personal favorite flavors of summertime.

There are too many flavors of friends to get into here. I like to have a balance of sweet and sour. Make sure a few of them contain some essential vitamins.

Growing up, I’ve lived both near the ocean and a lake. Mostly a lake. These days I’m landlocked, which makes me miss the salty flavor of the ocean even more. I am not scared of the ocean in the way some people who grow up by a lake are. Sure, crashing waves and invisible undertows are dangerous. But I just take a deep breath, and swim out just past the breakers. That’s where I feel at peace. And if the temperature is just right, weightless.

Did you know that my first word was t-shirt? No, only my mom knows that. You and I will just have to believe it’s true. What I do know is I love t-shirts and a well-loved t-shirt carefully folded into a summer can only enhance the recipe. It should be unique. And colorful. Personally, I like red ringers on the sleeves, but I know that’s a specific flavor not everyone enjoys. I also enjoy a a big screen print on the front of a wide eyed animal mascot. When I wear my summer t-shirt enough, it starts to feel like a close friend. If I wear it too many days in a row, it ends up being my only close friend.

I think of adventures on bikes like I think of adventures with coffee. Course grounds bring out a stronger flavor.

The dessert of summer. A sunset will always be there, even on the most endless of summer days. The lake sunsets growing up were the most beautiful. They were an unreal vibrant pink color. It was like someone had squeezed a handful of raspberries into a bowl of whipped cream and stirred it up. A few years ago I was told the color was caused by water vapor emitting from a nearby nuclear power plant. Sometimes I don’t need to know all the ingredients in my favorite dessert.

If you’re following the recipe for YOUR perfect summer, a grudge is an essential (consequential) flavor of YOUR recipe. All I have to say about them can be summed up in yet another cooking analogy: Allow to come to a boil, continue to keep covered, season to taste. As I get older, I’m not as bold with my grudges and often I have to wash down a spicy one with a tall glass of I’m Sorry.

This is one of those controversial flavors like black liquorice or anchovies. There is nothing quite like being caught outside under a stormcloud and getting completely soaked. I know, I know some of you think that sounds awful. But how often do you feel ‘in the moment’ like you do during a thunderstorm? Not very. Special moments, love’em or hate’em, are an essential flavor of my perfect summer. A thunderstorm comes with two special moments. The moment of that special laughing that happens when you’re caught in the rain. Then, the moment when you come in from the storm and change into clean, dry clothes. If you feel thunderstorms like I do, you know you’re never the same person afterwards.

Myself and lots of other people would call JAWS the perfect summer movie. That’s why when I set out to write and draw my own summer story, I knew I wanted a bit of that JAWS confectionery sprinkled on top, just like, um, sprinkles. JAWS has all the variety of summer flavor you could ever want; endless beaches, boat trips, new friendships, scary stories, and a giant ruthless shark that gets blown sky high when Sheriff Brody fires a rifle into an air tank stuck that had gotten lodged in its mouth. Sorry if I just spoiled the end of JAWS for you, but come on, what are we doing indoors watching a movie? It’s summer; we should be outside reading a book!

What are your summer flavors?

Ira Marcks is a cartoonist living in Upstate New York with his wife, two cats, a dog, and lots of books he’s been meaning to read. His love for ancient magic and possible futures has led him to create a warehouse of esoteric objects for the Hugo Award-winning magazine Weird Tales and to tell stories about villainous technology for the European Research Council. Shark Summer is his debut graphic novel. You can find Ira on Twitter at @ira_marcks, on Instagram at iramarcks, and online athttps://iramarcks.com.