Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Protected from Reality

This was made to express a pretty specific thing, and it was for me pretty interesting to see how it sorta went over a lot of people's head. It's exactly because it's not a high concept that I was puzzled about how some didn't seem to get it. As a test, keep in mind right now, after having read it (I hope you read the comics before the texts below them, if not there's something very... special about you) what you understood from it, and then let me know in the comments if it differed from my initial intention.

Which was: I kinda severely dislike people who claim to be 'realists'. In the name of that realism they tear down any attempt others make at embellishing their personal story with something spicier that their narrow version of 'reality'. 'Real' for them means 'empty'. Drama is forbidden, even the smallest pretension is to be ridiculed as harshly as possible, analysis is for fags, ambiguity is not an excuse for interpretation but quite the opposite, it doesn't even exist. Things are clear-cut. You know they type. The one to tell you stuff like "why are you wasting your time?" when you do things that might seem inconsequential but which you love anyway? Well yeah, that's her. There's many reasons why this sort of personality profile comes to exist and it wasn't so much the scope of the comic to investigate them as it was to mutter a passive-agressive "fuck off".

This story hasn't happened to me personally, but I have a lot of experience with that particular type of person so I didn't feel it out of bounds to do the story. As usual, I don't take a very strong stance because being heavy-handed about these things is kinda crass, but nonetheless I do believe the stories we invent about ourselves are true, they interface with truth and our lives become all the richer for it. This is a life-giving process, and don't let anyone tear it down. There isn't one safer way to view reality and regardless of the gravitas with which others will attempt to make you 'come to your senses' and view life through their eyes, they don't know anything you don't. The last action in this comic is a symbolic dissension to the most common and damaging human practice: that of counter-definition. Looking at what others do and doing the same or the exact opposite (it doesn't matter which). Of course there's a lurking pathology to overdoing it with the storytelling but again, that's a different comic for a different time and I'm glad I don't have to tag every entry in this blog with "psychopathology".

Oh, by the way, that's Giakoumis again. I guess that's his latest pop-art relationship that doesn't lead anywhere? In any case, there is some self-injection going on here (as with the other Giakoumis comic) but it's not so much in the main character (whom I didn't even originally create, friend Greek comic artist Dustbin did) but with the backgrounds. That's my room, that is my cat and yes, these are my knives. My privacy, it is shattered.

On the artistic end, I enjoy this comic even today. I like the sharp lines and the mostly clean spaces. There is some distortion in the faces but not nearly as bad as some other stuff I've done (wait for the next one). Before you sit down to draw something representative of reality, you always think you don't have the skill for it and it'll come out looking wonky and unconvincing. It almost always turns out that if you sit and do it instead of worry about it, the end result will be held together by some 'x factor'. It's not that I draw reality well, it's that I trust my artistic intuition in that the end result will not bother the eye and will support the story. Though my ambition doesn't end there, that is the bare minimum a comic artist needs to be able to tell a story with his visual tools. To trust their hands to draw every part okay enough so it doesn't fall apart on the whole.

Every time I sit down to make a new page, I have to convince myself that I can do this all over again.

So, the next post will probably be a Digital Drawing & Inking process one. I have all the art ready, it'll be a huge text to write but eh, I do enjoy doing it. Hopefully you guys and girls will find it informative or in the very least, you'll like the belabored panel I drew for it.

I have a request to make also: if you know someone whom you think would enjoy the comics and texts on this blog, do let them know that it exists. This might seem like it should go without saying, but I know that whenever other artists reminded me of this, I usually thought of one or two people more I could let know of their art. The reason I ask for this is because I think I've pretty much exhausted my methods of getting the word out there for the blog (which were, pretty much, posting in the message boards I frequent about it and tagging my name in MSN. Pitiful, I know). I don't use myspace or facebook (I find them pretty perverse) and whereas I don't have as much of a problem with livejournal, I can't readily make a profile and socialize there for the purpose of plugging my own comic, just seems disingenuous. So, word of mouth seems like all I have going for me now. Let people know if you want and also if you think there's any other way to make the blog reach its audience I might not have thought of, let me know!



Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not surprised people didn't get your intention of saying "fuck you" to realists in this comic, because although it's not a very high concept, it is a very particular concept. And I think that most people (include myself) don't try to read into things at that level, but more at a sort of emotional level.

I read this as the man being forced to confront the idea that his whimsical (maybe not the word I am looking for... a non-derogatory form of "silly" is what I want) habit is silly (or, forced to consider the realist viewpoint). Stabbing the cockroach is his attempt at rejecting that notion, but, of course, that action itself (as if that roach really were a danger) is silly and makes the whole knife thing even harder to reject as something silly. I found the futility of it sad.

Though I didn't "get it" in terms of specifically thinking poorly of the girl as a realist, I think it was effective in how you meant it in that I was saddened by the loss of whimsy--I don't like it as a "fuck you" comic, but I can't really read it as one, either--the story seems to me about the man rather than the girl. It may be a subtle difference, and I see how you've got to this comic from your intention, but to me the focus is different.

Helm said...

Yeah your viewpoint is understandable. After all I did find the cockroach thing funny initially and this is why I made the comic, but behind the joke and the futility I thought there was a valid defense there from outward attempts to make him plain.

Ethan said...

I have made a frequent reader out of one of my friends. I hope the other one I recommended it to hangs around as well. I think I got the anti-realist vibe in the first reading. Or maybe it was a more general feeling that the girl was intruding on his world. Probably because I've had the same kind of stupid questions asked about aspects of my world. It always feels like an intrusion to me. And I'm no realist. Maybe I got there in a roundabout kind of way.

Helm said...

Thank you, Ethan. I've been privately told by many people that they 'got it' also and there were variations of the "god, what a stupid question" statement which made me feel good. I will resume posting very soon.

Conceit Arturo said...

I got the completely opposite thing...mostly because I thought having a knife around was silly...never had one. I just got that the guy was a paranoid. Maybe this needed the knife character to be established a little better? that way you would know exactly what she was taking away from his world