Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Conan the Librarian

I'm back from a wonderful vacation. This is why there have been no updates for a couple of weeks. No complaints! (I promise regular updates again) Let's talk about this comic instead.

Jacob (Ιάκωβος in Greek) is based on a mixture of real-life people I've associated with, and in part on myself as well. The "anatomy of the role-player" in this comic is therefore not mean-spirited as I used to count myself as one of them for many years. I'd like to say that I no longer role-play just due to time constraints but as it stands I could manage the time if I really wanted to. What with being a lazy unemployed no-good artist and all. What is closer to truth is that I no longer role-play because at some point I realized that for all its creative merit, this hobby creates mainly a space of introspection. It is a positive palette for the imagination of an introvert child as I was, and its type of 'private communication' that occurs between role-players that have shared vicarious experiences is surely a great first step for someone trying to communicate at large. However later on it is exactly in its communicative range that the hobby is self-limiting. Nobody besides your game mates really cares about the exploits of your imaginary orc bard and neither really should they (I posit). As I grew my own expressive and communicative impulses metastasized to the comics you read right now, to music, to creating video-games. Granted, I may have not exactly have "become a man and left behind the childish things" but at least I am out of my shell, effectively looking at what binds people together, common ground.

There is therefore I suspect, an entrance to the pathological at some age for the role-player. It turns out there is such a thing as spending too much time inside one's own head especially if what you do there is heroic fantasy. All these brave deeds and personal accomplishments, yet with none of the actual personal sacrifice that is required to live a good life. I've met amazingly charmismatic people with great people skills... that they have cultivated through role-playing games, yet with little or no actual drive to get 'down and dirty' in real life and achieve something with these skills. It's just easier to go for the virtual dragonslaying. This tangentially could lead off to discussion to even worse forms of role-playing games, like World of Warcraft but eh, the internet has done that for me well enough.

All that said, I still do suffer from 'idealization' of the world to various degrees. Though philosophically I would not count myself as a friend of the Platonic concept of the Ideal (much the opposite, actually) it appears emotionally the pull towards perfection - and the various critical dissections of imperfect things against that ultimately arbitrate concept of perfection - is a deeply ingrained one. Part of what these comics try to do is to remind myself (and hopefully others) that things we think we know, things we've safely categorized and compartmentalized perhaps might require more investigation, several more investigations at different times of our lives. Just a series of reminders, I guess.

On the formal concerns front, there's just a little bit of cleverness in the chair of chairliness panel. I thought a bright ideal world would not only be rendered sans shading, but it would also cast deep black shadows. For what use is it really to consider things perfect if not to have an excuse to condemn something as less than perfect? The same emotional distress trick that I used on spaceman closeup is used on 'hmph.' panel. It seems crosshatched slight offset parallel lines create the effect of weariness and stress well enough so I decided to do it more. Also, I wish I had done just 5 minutes of research on how to render flame and smoke in black and white before having drawn the funeral pyre panel, it would have been significantly stronger for just a bit more effort... I swear I like my comics, I do!

I have no excuse about the ending though, it's just a reversal. A funny comic is supposed to have a reversal at the end, right?

Also, 'aak'. It might seem like a strange thing to say when stabbed in the gut but I find it most appropriate. In this blog we have taught you foreign savages to laugh like a Greek and to sigh like one. Now you know what to say if you have to die like one.



pan pan said...

hehe i laughed with the "twist" at the end. although the proper way go when stabbed in the gut is "BrAAAH"

Anonymous said...

How weird, each time I try to visualize this comic I think of an excited Jacob talking about chairliness with an expression of satisfaction in his face. You were right Helm, this guy is unhappy, my mind is diverged when daydream is challenged =\

Helm said...

The end panel, for which I was always embarrassed seems to have had a lot of unlikely fans. Well, goes to show, just put them up and let people judge.

HS, yes when we spoke in private I couldn't believe you remembered that panel with Jacob being happy, he's mid-dementia there, heh.

Lackey said...

Speaking of formal considerations, what about the elaborately decorated panel on the role-playing frame. It seems appropriate.

Helm said...

Yeah I'm glad you noticed. Grandeur theme for a panel full of sitting around doing calculations.