Portrait of the Artist as a (Very) Young Man Part 4

by Robert Studwood Hues, Famous Art Critic

Chris Auman 3rd Grade
Bowl cuts and missing teeth were the rage.


Literary Pursuits 1976-1979

By the mid 1970s, Auman was bored with the art world and suspicious of an audience that simply did not understand his work. While not giving up visual art entirely, Auman turned to literature to express himself. The result of his first effort was the classic short story, "The Deer and the Bear" written in 1976. This literary masterpiece deals with the friendship shared between two members of different species. Despite being natural enemies, the pair finds common cause in their struggle to evade blood thirsty hunters. Despite being from — not only different species, but different genders as well, the two protagonists decide to forgo the conventions of the time and move in together. The story ends as the Bear and the Deer are, perhaps making plans to celebrate a birthday or something. That part is unclear, but what is clear is the message, "can't we all just get along?". The answer to that message posed as a question is: Yes! Even though planning a party or a social event can cause friction between even the best of friends.

A Deer and a Bear Push the Envelope

In 1979, Auman was told by doctors that he was near-sighted. It was a devastating blow to the young artist who was forced to wear prescription eyeglasses in order to work. Auman addresses this tragedy in a diary entry from that period.


Working Out Ways I 

After mastering the art of the short story with "The Deer and the Bear" in 1976, Auman decided it was time to attempt an even more ambitious literary feat. The result was the classic American novel of three friends, presumably from different socioeconomic backgrounds, who tried against all odds to make it in the world. Working Out Ways had environmental themes and an anti-logging message that was not lost on the American public in the late 1970s. Similar to the narrative arc of "The Deer and the Bear," the novel features a cat, a bird plus a caterpillar. These common woodland creatures surely were natural enemies in the wild and provide a textbook example of the hierarchical food chain that exists among the species. Was Auman really suggesting that these animals actually wanted to coexist in the same tree or whatever? Was Auman really rebelling against the food chain? Isn't that impossible when you really think about it? Probably. 

Working Out Ways by Chris Auman

Working Out Ways II

By all accounts, Working Out Ways Vol. II was a complete failure. Derided by critics for its crass commercialism, capitalistic themes of Christmas and consumerism and pointless snowmobile rides, it also failed to resonate with readers. Auman was devastated and scraped his plans for the third volume. 

Working Out Ways II by Chris Auman

Writer's Block

After his failure as a novelist, Auman made several false starts at a planned series of short stories. Crippled by writer's block and abandoned by his muse, Auman soon found terror in the blank page. The Little Town of Fuzzy Balls would never be populated with Fuzzy Balls, nor would the Talking Crayons utter a single word. 

Little Town of Fuzzballs by Chris Auman

The Talking Crayons

The Talking Crayons by Chris Auman


After being rejected by all the major publishing houses, as well as the minor ones, and after failing to get published in neither journal nor magazine, Auman decided that if he could not beat them he would join them and then hopefully beat them. He would become a publisher himself.

Portrait of the Artists as a (Very) Young Man Part 5: The Publisher