My FBB Obsession

Today I turned 52, and tbh I’m feelin’ old & lonely. I’ve been a single, alone man for many, many years now. Anyone who knows me knows my habit of dwelling on it. Perhaps it’s a midlife crisis? Sure. Why not. My brain dwells and dwells and dwells. Always has. Probably what’s kept me single. But over the years I’ve found several different ways to deal with this issue of mine.

Pinky 1998
Pinky 1998

Drawing. Sitting down and focusing my concentration on something I find beautiful has always been the most effective way to distract and refocus this overactive, self-doubting brain of mine. So today (my birthday), in hopes of distracting, I’m gonna tell you about that which I find MOST beautiful, then show you some of my art to prove it.

But before I continue, I hafta acknowledge I’ve struggled on how to write about this. The reality is, I’m just some skinny dude here commenting on women’s bodies. I can clearly see how a blog like this could be taken very wrong. I’m not even convinced I have the right to comment on the topic. I mean, who am I? Who cares what this pencil-neck geek thinks about the bodies of these accomplished  women who know not even of my existence?
I just want to make it absolutely clear the immense respect I have for how much work goes into it. I also understand the amount of criticism and disrespect these women endure. I have no sense of humor about it when jokes are made. They’re as unfunny as they are unoriginal.

Tazzie Colomb 2000
Tazzie Colomb 2000

It’s these truths behind the muscularity that fuel it deep in me. I adore it as an act of rebellion. A blunt rejection of the norm. A confidence I’ve never been able to find in myself to such a degree. It is also envy, to be sure.
It’s the superiority, intimidation, domination and an exaggerated sexualization that lends itself to the imagination. Fact is, I owe any drawing talent I have to this obsession.

I’ve never seen a woman I thought was too muscular. Any level of visible musculature hits me hard. I have no idea where this came from or how it came about in me. It’s just there, and it’s the one sight that makes my heart jump outta my chest every time.

Tessa Boyea 2018
Tessa Boyea 2018

It can be terrifying too. My emotions are so affected by any encounter. It’s both something I search out, yet dread to find. I lose my cool, and afterwards fall into a despair that haunts me for days to follow. It’s just always seemed so completely out of reach. It’s me at my most pathetic. I have many stories. I could recollect every single muscular woman with whom I’ve ever had an encounter, and my failure as a man immediately after.
You get the picture.

Pinky Side Bicep 1997
Pinky Side Bicep 1997

This is Pinky. She’s a character I drew for a website I made in 1997 called Pinky’s Links where I would link up my favorite fbb’s & show off my drawings of them. And it worked! It was my breakthrough in finally finding an avenue to conversing with them online. I drew many of these beautiful women. Some even got their own dressup games!
Christa Bauch Dressup
Dressup Tammy Jones

Pinky 1997
Pinky 1997

My very first memories of seeing female bodybuilders were televised bodybuilding contests in the 80s, and bodybuilding magazines on shelves. When I was 16 I invented a role-playing game called Palace with more than a hundred characters, most of which were muscular women. I had to make myself draw other kinds of “regular looking” characters so the game wouldn’t look quite so pornographic. The one’s on hole punched line paper were drawn in the classroom. Enjoy!

Happy to say my drawing talent improved over time. In the 90s I started my Neptune comic and created Madonna Brando, my boldest celebration of the extreme muscular physique yet! From left to right you can see how she developed as a character over time.

Pinky arms crossed 1997
Pinky arms crossed 1997

And to this day I adore the results of what I can do now digitally. I am simply honored to have a way to celebrate it to such a degree at all. It’s my most favorite subject to draw, ever. Clearly.

Pinky 1997
Pinky 1997

My plan?
Keep drawing.
That’s all I know to do.
Maybe revealing this about myself in such detail will help. I know there are others. It’s about coming out. Showing proper respects to that which inspires me most.
But after all’s said, Ima prolly shutup and just stick to honoring through art again. I have more practice at that.

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Bringing Union Sq to Book Nook

Wendell Headly framed behind Book Nook counter
Wendell Headly framed behind Book Nook counter

As many of you may or may not know, I’ve been displaying my art in coffee shops around here in Michigan. Two shops to be exact. Drip Drop Drink in Muskegon, and Book Nook Java Shop in Montague. I highly recommend both!
Now, Book Nook has invited me to hang as much as I want of whatever I want in their sizely establishment, and I’ve fully taken them up on that offer. About 20 pieces there now. I even framed that Wendell Head just in time for spring, as well as a poster size of that Union Square postcard, which is what I have to tell you about.

amazing strangers of union square cartoon drawing
All of the Union Square characters for Matchgame Postcard gathered at park digitized in Adobe Illustrator

Now, I’ve been putting off blowing this particular image up to poster size mainly because I sorta didn’t wanna see all those little drawings blown up. The postcard size smallness of the piece hid mistakes. Or maybe I just didn’t want to go down Memory Lane with these faces closeup just yet. Either way, I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity to share Union with the people of Montague. It was time to blow this baby up, 2 feet by 3 feet to frame for their wall.

I scaled the art, took it to the printers, and when I picked it up along with some others, I didn’t want to look at this one yet. I stress about these things. It wasn’t until it was framed and in my room that evening I actually sat down in front of it (a little stoned) and just stared at it. And lemme tell you, I was BLOWN AWAY.

I’d forgotten how much work I’d put into each of these tiny little caricatures, and all of their personalities came flooding back. All of these details were lost in that cramped little postcard I gave away. I shocked myself. Everybody looks like they actually look. Period. Roman and his gang, Wendell, Quarter Guy, Peepers, EVERYONE! No joke, it’s the first time I’d ever seen ANY of these this big, and it was cracking me up! There’s nothing else like it.

Union Square Glossary
Union Square Glossary

Long story short, I went back to the drawing board, added a few more characters (there’s over 100 people on it btw), plus a lot of  Easter Eggs for anyone who’s a real AS nerd.
I printed 50, 24″X 36″ posters to sell to whoever wants one. It’s First Print numbered & dated, signed by me, including this really nice looking glossary sheet with everybody’s name and where they are at the park. You can quiz yourself, and then go find them on the Tube! BUY IT HERE

union square nyc,
Union Sq at Book Nook

Not to toot my own horn but it’s really the greatest picture that’s ever going to exist of that corner of New York City at that point in time. If you were waiting for my big tribute to Union Square, this is it. Yet as I write this it’s only hanging in a cute little coffee shop in Montague Michigan… for now!

• AMAZING STRANGERS POSTER comes signed, w/glossary key.

$50
$50




 

 

Scattered

Dali -pen & ink
Dali -pen & ink

If it’s not depression, I’m sittin’ on the edge of that cliff. I knew when I moved here 6 years ago that any hopes of having local friends, relationships or a social life of any kind were over. A 50+ single, childless, god-mocking Gen-Xer caring for his elderly parents in conservative-Bible-land during a pandemic has an extremely predictable plotline. I get it. And I don’t see any way others can help me through either. I don’t need an ear listening to my complaints. I know people love and care for me. Over here, men with these issues are on their own. And for the love of god, please stop suggesting I try joining a singles dating site. The suggestion itself is more painful than actually writing a bio for one. Thank you. I get it. But no.

I’ve also recently noticed that I’m audibly sighing now, regularly. Involuntary deep breaths followed by sad painful exhales. I try to divert it by turning it into talking to the dog, or myself, or singing to the radio. It’s a pathetic scene here, man. I’m pretty sure I’m able to keep it quiet enough when I’m out, but alone in my car it’s sickening! This fear of being a single man free of love from here on out has haunted me my whole life. And worse yet, it’s looking to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
God, I’m  lonely.

Book Nook Java Shop, Whitehall MI
Book Nook Java Shop, Whitehall MI

So ANY-HOW, I’m handling this situation the only way I know. The only way I’ve ever known. I gather up my pencils, pens, sketchbook and my +3.00 reading glasses and head to a coffee shop and draw until they tell me to leave. Point my nose at a page and induce the only kind of focus capable of   blocking out the endless loop of all these thoughts through my simple mind.

Kimberly Vlaminck, Belguim
Kimberly Vlaminck, Belguim

Outside of this drawing-focus I’m completely scattered. I can hardly organize my thoughts enough to explain myself here even. And in the end it’s most likely a waste of time to do so anyhow since everyone’s going through their own version of this right now. Everyone’s yearning for help, answers, relief, care, love.
Jesus Christ.

Art on display at both Book NookDrip Drop Drink, Michigan.

There’s no other news to share.

As always, your interest is greatly appreciated.

Oh. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Thanks for 20 years

Jan 28, 2021
Subject: Thanks for 20 years

joy

Hi Bob,
I just wanted to tell you that my hard bumps in life have been softened by your genius. I broke free from the church in the 90’s and when I was crucified I found so much strength reading through your site.

I just wanted to say thank you for all the nights I didn’t know where to go and just read and read your site. I felt complicated and couldn’t sleep and found laughter and resolve for myself and the path I wanted. You are a true humanitarian. Thank you for publishing your journey. I mean it with all my heart.

Wishing you all the best,
Joy

Wow, Joy! I’m curious what exactly inspired you to write me now? Thank you so much. It does mean a lot to me to hear I made a difference. I have to admit I feel like I’ve been out of the game since I left NYC in 2015. Then add on the pandemic and middle of winter… I feel in limbo.

Do you remember how you first came across the site?
Normal Bob

 

Hmmm… I grew up in the bay area. My friends were nerds and all over the internet back when there were message boards and it was dial up. They sympathized with my bible thumping home life mismatch, and told me to read your site to feel like I’m not alone and see what normal people would say to the cultish things my parents would tell me. It definitely was all the empowerment I needed. Instead of crying or being traumatized after my parents tried to exorcise me at 17 I read NormalBob.

At 27 when a creep I was dating lied about being a hardcore born again and tried to evangelize me. I was so creeped out I couldn’t sleep… But I remembered NormalBob and read through all the things until well after the sun came up. Everything in the world felt okay again. I’m not exaggerating. You really did restore my balance and help me when religion was a scary monster and occasionally an evil cult.

It’s totally understandable that your inspiration and muse can wax and wane and your voice and passions might shift and change. You have lots to give. I’m sure you will find that again in a way that feels authentic. Maybe don’t try so hard. When you feel passion follow it without expectations. Be open.
There’s a million things to be opinionated about, or compassionate or passionate about during these days. Judgment is a way we are in overdrive because it keeps us safe and alive. Don’t feel pressure to be anything you were or did before. Now is uncharted.

It’s also okay if you were a humanitarian for a long time and you do other things these days. That’s still a lot to be proud of yourself for!

In the Netflix show Pretend It’s A City, Fran Lebowitz makes a lot of great points about why New York drives people to be pushy and opinionated. How every other city in America fails at that in comparison. Why that’s so valuable. You might want to check it out. She’s amazing!

Joy

I really appreciate you letting me in on all these personal details. And I have indeed continued to express myself however I see fit despite it not being as popular as what used to be. I’m doing my best to continue whatever dream it is I have for my future while being as authentic as possible.

 Would you be alright with me posting this conversation along with a picture of you (if that’s ok)? I think it’d interest people. I’d also be happy to send you a set of Jesus Dressup magnets, if only as a reminder on your fridge that it’s all to be laughed at.
Thank you!
Normal Bob

 

I would be honored to be published on Normal Bob Smith.
That really is full circle and rad.
Yes to Jesus dress-up!!!
Thanks so much,
Joy

Artist, Atheist, Anthropologist