I am really fond of this one. I think it works on a lot of levels. I don't look at it and think I could have done it better, even 2 years later. I guess in some ways the whole run up to now was worth it even if it was training for this sort of comic. Now what's left is for people to leave me comments about how this is much worse than say, the rice pudding comic and throw me into existentialist despair.
This comic came out without much in the way of birth pains. I remember I made this in Wales while on vacation and I was at the time quite depressed. The situation was however tolerable because a lot of dear friends were about. In fact one of them, Petter, was the one that penciled a panel of this comic (I'll let you guess which) and I received much feedback while making it by quite a few more friends (as we are given to travel in big, multicultural packs). On one hand it was a weird experience for me to have to explain what the comic I am making is about while making it over and over (since most of the comics you see here were made in a state of flux. I didn't 'run them' by anyone, really) on the other hand it helped me appreciate the feedback loop and how it fuels creativity. Look at it now I feel a certainty of intent in this one, which is good.
I am happy with the second panel. The expressions work well I think, and the parallel hatching was a good idea to shade faces. A lot of the time in the past I used to crosshatch a lot and make sleek, almost oily, Neal Adamsesque shading on flesh. It turns out I grew gradually sick of that sort of oily, perfect muscle, I found how it is fitting only for superheroes and supermodels, both equally dehumanizing subtextual guises. I should have looked at masters such as Moebius sooner and seen how the geometry of the body is so subtly accentuated by parallel hatching, relative to the lightsource or - if a wearisome effect is desired - at a 90 degree angle to it.
On the fifth panel, the board on the burning barrel reads in misspelled Greek "here was work # 21".
For you, the lovers of comic theory: Look at the last panel, how it is borderless, how its darkness spreads on the margins of the frames above. How it foreshadows an end and how in lacking borders your brain interprets it as stretching to forever, how it just feels longer than the other panels. Pay attention to how, as western readers, you approach the panel from your left, and as you're coming to terms with the starkness of this field, as you are trying to look upon the whole of this city, the whole of the mausoleum, your eyes fall upon the last ladder, inviting you to exercise your own singular freedom.
The issue of determinism is one a lot of the future comics of this blog will touch upon not only because poor Helm was sad when he was making these comics, but also because I survived them, my sadness, and my life. The fundamental issue of Freewill cannot be examined by my comics in a way that is novel since I never had that sort of brilliance, but perhaps they will serve to shock with intimacy - as comics are want to do - the reader into appreciating the question of it fully. At first it seems as such a non-issue, but its ramifications run deep in how we define (and counter-define) ourselves as citizens, consumers and humans. It is one of the few philosophical issues that still excite me and which I find vital to communicate and I do believe this, amongst a few comics to come attempts a useful commentary on it.
The next update will probably be another PROCESS post, where I will explain how I work completely digitally as of late, what with this expensive Cintiq my father bought for me. I hope that finds my readership in agreement. Speaking of you guys, I want to thank you for both reading my work and most importantly for your comments below the entries. As I was discussing with HS in private a few days ago, some of the comment threads give us hope because they are in our common view, the ideal comments: undeterred by the deeply ingrained cynicism of the internet as a communicational medium, human and candid. They make the blog worth existing. I don't mean this as some sort of fluff complement, they really do, this whole exercise is one of essential communication, not about showing off. I am trying to validate the existence of old work, which I never felt arrived at its destination. By posting your thoughts and engaging in dialog with me and between yourselves you are helping me believe in the merit of my own work. I sincerely thank you.