Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Collector

When I went to the paper to start doing this I hoped for a degree of healthy feedback and criticism on my work, which has been the context on which I am used to doing art anyway. I hoped both my employer and readers would communicate to me their thoughts on how they think the pages are going. Around a month and a half in (early publication being an especially tender and volatile place to be and all) I began to realize that this wasn't going to happen. My employer seemed to not read the pages besides perhaps a cursory look (the real proof of that is how many spelling errors he let fly -- I am a notoriously bad speller in Greek) and besides friends and family there was zero reader feedback that I was made aware of.

Granted, it might have not helped that I didn't provide any sort of contact info in or around the page and that all a reader who would like to communicate have would be a cryptic 'Helm' at the bottom of the page. I was at the time - in light of how many meaningless e-mails we get every day - endorsing the view that making your reader work for it a bit to communicate with you isn't a bad thing necessarily. I have since drastically revised my views on this particular matter -- hence this blog.

In any case, it became so I felt I was working in flux. Left to nobody's judgment but my own on how things were going, I was also starting to feel the limitations of the format I've chosen (yes, a mere 5 comics in!!). Consider a strange mixture of anxiety over touching the metaphorical ceiling, sadness for feeling completely alone and underappreciated (this particular facet of the emotion would peak slowly over the next 6 months) on it and an odd pinch of sadism against the phantom audience "I will show you, the next comic is not going to be funny at all!... b - but will anybody notice?". But that's a post for the next comic, not this one. This one is funny.

I'm not sure if I did this before or after Chessmaster boy below, heh. They're certainly back to back though. This one has been a bit of a tribute to the pathological psyche of the collector. If you detect some underlying disdain it's because I live in a house with two manic collectors. My dad is heavily into war miniatures and military vehicles while my brother is into scaled model cars of a certain caliber. Literally, a small fortune has gone into their hobbies and I personally - apparently in complete lack of a collector gene - fail to understand the appeal. Furthermore it is clear to me that such an obsession leads to dehumanised relations with other collectors who one treats foremost as 'threats' in how they can outbuy them or get there first on a 'hot piece' they want. Ugh. But my approach is based on understanding and sympathizing when making 'human condition' comics. Cynicism doesn't befit me (and neither should it you, dear reader!) so besides of my stated dislike of this way of life I hope Nectarios comes across as a good guy, even if he's a shut-in and prone to constant daydreaming. I gave him a likable shape just for this, heh!

I like the former-mother's-room in terms of characterization. From the 'KRIEG' poster hilariously juxtaposing with the totally nonthreatening fuzzy ball of introversion that is Nectarios to the suspended Tie Interceptor... you tell much more about your characters if you place them where they live than by pages' worth of wordy exposition.

The Stormtrooper reference, as blatant as it is is one which I personally desired to externalize. I am not a big Star Wars fan or anything, but it's completely annoying to the point of getting unwatchable for me to see them shoot like morons. This is my metaphorical way of punishing them, though I'm sure mister Lucas has retconned an idiotic reason for which they can't shoot straight like I don't know, their targeting hardware inside the mask was early generation and faulty or whatever.

This particular comic is extremely better done in terms of lettering in Johnny's version than the original Greek one. I leave lettering last when I make a comic and that time I was extremely tired and close to the deadline so I just slapped the lettering on there with a fat lazy marker and it... didn't help matters. I think I subconsciously disliked this comic for that exact reason and now is the first time it's ever been easy on my eyes, so I guess thanks, Johnny!


myrto said...

Apo tin empeiria mou, to feedback apo tous anagnwstes se epipedo efimeridas, eidika an den uparxei kapoio emfanes email, einai idiaitera spanio kai otan sumvei sxetika big deal.(Emeis ta toixokoloume sto grafeio!) Sigoura afto dimiourgei to aisthima tou "who cares gia tin douleia mou" to opoio einai idiaitera apotharintiko. Alla ana faseis antilamvanesai oti oi anagnwstes (kai enniote kai oi fans) einai ekei, apla den kanoun to extra vima na dilwsoun tin parousia tous.

O entupos tupos einai o tomeas pou pasxei perissotero apo afti tin monodromi sxesi, alla akoma kai se kateksoxin diadrastika mesa opws ena site i ena blog, tha diapistwseis oti mporei na se diavazoun 100 kai treis mono na mpainoun ston kopo na grapsoun comment i na steiloun mail.

Thus said, latrevw to blog sou, keep the posts coming :)

Anonymous said...

In order for the communicative aspect of art to be fully expressed, both artists and fans should be encouraged to talk about the piece of art. Even if "it talks on its own", why not challenge ourselves and actually point out what it's saying? The process itself may have a surprising effect to our personal growth.

Anyhow, in "The Collector" I like how a grown-up man, still possesses the ability to get heavily involved with the objects (soldier in this case) and even perform battles between them (I'm glad I can do this too from time to time, using a Cat and a teddy-bear =D). So, Nectarios is not your typical collector because his interest is not limited to possessing the objects of desire. His "syndrome" services a fantasy maintaining purpose as well and this is not pathological on its own -he lost his life because of his lust to possess but only lost his job because of his fantasies-.

Helm said...

Great observations: it is my belief that every collector peruses their collection in some way or another. Record collectors listen to the records, toy collectors play with the toys, clothes collectors wear the clothes and book collectors read the books. This doesn't alleviate the underlying psychopathology of the situation though.

The point is you don't need MANY books to read a book. You don't need MANY toys to fantasize a few battles for them. It is in the width of the collector's collection that their lives fall into and occasionally never to return.

Losing your job might not be as severe a sign of pathology as losing your life over something, but it surely should raise red flags as to what's going on I think. I hate jobs and fuck jobs and I never want to work another day in my life sure, but if you are let go because something preoccupies you constantly and you can't compartmentalize your desire, then it's a dangerous thing.

Man, comments such as yours make me glad to have made the blog.

Johnny Spade said...

what about that broad knife collection you once had, Helm? :)

yeah, while it all seems quite exaggerated, or even irrational, there are people who, indeed, by focusing on quirky fantasies, cut themselves off from the real world --- and successively replace it by a hermetical space to which no-one can access save they. I'm probably overusing generalization here, but I guess every introvert person is like that.

you know, living with collectors of the Nectarios kind gets really tiresome, every day I face it empirically --- they seems obsessed with talking about one particular topic whereas they completely disregard everything you say, and not even try to pretend they're listening to you --- maybe that's why the protagonist, as we can deduce, lived on his mother's till his late age and couldn't find a spouse or any other mate after being left alone?

. . . and what about the artists you were working with? had they started this kind of 'detour' (to eventually drift completely off) as well? or were they sticking firm to the original plan? just asking.

Helm said...

I hardly call four knives a collection. Besides, they're for PROTECTION D:

About the other artists: one settled into making 'diary' like entries, you know 'what happened to me today' early on and I never was sure that a newspaper space is the right place to do those sort of autobio comics. Mike on the other hand did a lot of different things within the framework of 'funny unrelated stories' but they all remained humourous. I was the only one largely deviating from my original idea and it created interesting - if unfortunate - results later on. Keep reading, THERE'S AN EXCITING META-STORY GOING ON.

Johnny Spade said...

hehe, I must have remembered wrongly then! ;]

Sophia said...

he used to have more knives, i'm sure... but he kept leaving them with his victims, you know... in their bodies.. You can lose a lot that way..

Lackey said...

Helm, as much as I love your comics sometimes I find them almost unbearably tragic!

It's endearing that Necatrios plays with his miniatures more like a child than a wargamer.

Lastly the image in the first frame of the last row is haunting.

Helm said...

Eh, perhaps if that panel was better drawn :P