Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Mandatory check after the jump this time, friends.

Some creative zooming might be required to achieve both a holistic view of this page and its individual parts.

Unlike the spread posted below, this more recent pile of secrets still hurts. Revisiting this in detail to re-letter it reminded me of the acute psychological condition I was in when it was made. There is a honor in remembering it seems but there also is a sadness. Perhaps a couple of years from now the emotions that fed this will be crystallized more into a picture and less into a mirror.

With this page, my backlog has all but been depleted (there's like 3-4 pages I didn't deem good enough to post and a 18-page 24hr comic which I'm not terribly fond of either). This means I have achieved what I set out to do with this blog initially, which is to give a permanent digital home to work that I felt had been perhaps misrepresented in initial publication (this is a fancy way of saying that nobody that would want to see most of these would be able to where they were published).

This blog as an experiment has been very successful. The communication with you readers reinstilled a degree of self-confidence in me and I even put out the Asides Bsides book on that strength. I thank you sincerely for this. Even if we were to be done now, I would still rank this whole endeavour as probably the most important thing I've attempted in the past couple of years.

As I do not want this to be done though, I think it's time for to consider further options. Naturally it is impossible to keep the rate of posting I have on this blog now the well has run dry. I am currently - albeit slowly - making some more short comics. I have at least 3 4-5 page stories I need to tell in this period and I am assembling material for them at a discrete pace (you may detect from how I write here that there is a chance that I might abandon making comics after that. This isn't because I seriously think there will ever come a time when I throw the towel, more that I find it psychologically supportive to think of a future without any hardcoded certainties). The initial plan B was that when I would be done with my past work I would continue to post my new pages as they appear, here. I intend to do so, but I urge readers to not expect updates in the usual rate of once every 3-4 days anymore, as comics take a long time to be made. (Actually, comics can be made quite faster if I were employed to make them, but seeing how I am not, my own conscience sets the pace). I say this because it seems there's about 50 people visiting every day... take the bookmark from your daily folder and put it in your bi-monthly folder, please :)

I put the question to you, kind readers and humans, on the material of future posts. Should I post only when a page is completely and utterly done, or would you also be interested in work-in-progress (along with a hefty amount of comic-theory-ramblings) posts that might make less sense/spoil the end result ? Naturally if I can post WIP-stage work it means I will post more often (while still not at the past pace) but at the expense of the novelty of a finished page.

Also, on the strength of positive reception both here on the blog and for the book I recently put out, I am thinking I want to work making comics as a professional again. I think the Greek market cannot provide for me even barely reasonable compensation for the sort of work I do (at least not through the current channels) so it might be the time that I should start looking for opportunities to be published abroad. How exactly to do this, I am not certain. Any ideas are welcome. I suspect the first thing to do would be to make a bio / portfolio section on this blog with some standout pieces from the archives here and a few words on who I am and what I am willing to do to survive. This only makes sense because I don't expect an editor stumbling on this page to have the time to read the whole blog to tell what I can do, and seeing how I don't post my most recent work on the top of the blog they might be confused further. I'll do this soon.

If it were up to you, which pieces (let's say up to 4 stories) from those on this blog would you select for such a purpose?

Ah, well. I'm feeling a bit sad now. Was it really just 6 months with this blog? It felt longer, it felt busier. Felt like I had more purpose than usual. I'll try to go with this feeling.

- Helm


Saturday, March 14, 2009


This came to be about 6 years ago. Here is the relevant background information:

After failing at high-school and repeating my final year, I had to make some choices as to what I wanted to do with myself. Especially now being, what they told me was, an adult. My father was gracious to provide for my going to a private higher learning school to study comic, cartoon & animation, which at the timed seemed pretty much the only thing I would be interested in doing. It was either that or English literature & philosophy, for which with my certain... academic discontent, I certainly would never made the grades for, or some sort of music school. I didn't look into the particulars of the last option because I felt ill-equipped for it at the time, a hunch that probably saved me a lot of frustration.

Anyway, I did go to comic school and the whole experience was mixed. What was not but instead completely wonderful was that I met the wonderful people with whom I put out the Free Your Line fanzine later on. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I belonged to a friendly peer group. This comic was my first serious stab at the medium. It was published in the first issue of Free Your Line. Before this, I read a lot of comics but I didn't actively try to make them, I was one of those kids that just 'drew pretty good'.

At the time I didn't need so much to communicate through the art forms I practiced as I needed to express certain inward movemets. The form of this comic in fact directly follows several personal resolutions I had arrived to to frame my music about the same time. The main premise was a complete abandonment of the common methods of communication and instead a complete focus on self-expression for the purpose private reflection. I make it sound fancy but I think the impulse towards this sort of artistry is a very common one in teen-aged creative but introverted people. At the time, having no education on the history of aesthetics and therefore no clue on how often this theme repeats, I felt what I was doing was novel. It is useful perhaps to say that whereas I have since then gradually but surely taken my comic-making towards traditional storytelling, my music remains very much based on those premises and is really never to change.

Effectively my early music along with my early comic work such as this served as psychoanalysis. I was at the time very maudlin over several issues which I felt I could not discuss with anyone. So I created a monument of secrets both through music and this sort of comic work and I let it reflect on me. There is a very interesting vantage that one can create this way. Art longs for Arete, as the ancient Greeks would say. When one creates art they are expressing an infinitely capacious version of themselves, one not shackled by the psychological ills that might torture them in their life, one that is perfect. And to have this perfect form speak to you is an eventful process. Depending on how this art reflects on the artist I believe it can push him towards greater despair, or the opposite, guide him out of it. I was fortunate in that both music and early comic work lead towards the latter.

I was not interested in publicizing this work and only did it at the time because of two fake reasons and a real one. The first fake one was that my close peers at comic school were impressed and wanted the comics to go in the fanzine. The other was that I opined that even on an academic level "art which doesn't seek to communicate" should be exhibited so as to make it known that such art might exist. Hiding under this bullshit the real reason was that I felt an almost illicit thrill at the idea that something so completely incomprehensible to outsiders, yet so deeply meaningful to me could be read by hundreds of people. This feeling did not come from a sadism I think, towards the reader. It came from the ever-slight possibility that they could somehow peer behind the curtain and notice the real emotion that was in the heart of all of this. It was after all, an attempt at communication.

At the time I rejected the few chances I had to explain anything about this comic and others I made like it. In fact when an acquaintance told me that she found the comic very 'poetic' I expressed a violent distaste and throttled any further attempt at what I felt was an easy and comfortable reading of my work with the harsh tone that belonged to a very anxious and troubled past version of me. I regret that sort of thing because I realize now that most of what this comic is about is plain and evident, if not in plot then certainly in universal emotion to anyone that has ever lost someone, has been unloved and is very anxious for their life to truly begin. Those are the emotions that fueled this comic and it took me a few years to realize that it is not in any fundamental way different from any other comic I had since made, even when I moved towards less capricious forms of storytelling. I am always surprised when people tell me it means something to them though, not so much because I think that is impossible but more because I always thought it would take more effort to get to the bottom of it. I guess it doesn't, I guess the many secrets I put into this to exorcise them, are visible to the kind-hearted.

Most artists are very embarrassed about their early steps. I don't feel that way about this, I like it a lot still. It has helped me with a difficult time and as an artifact of perseverance, I can show it to you.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Midnight Comes, Midnight Goes

This is old, one of my first 'serious comics' actually. First printed in Free Your Line #2, revisited and remade from two pages into one (I much prefer it like this) in late 2006. The theme is similar to the comic I posted below this. The color here is mostly done by hand with ecoline paints. I enjoy coloring by hand more than on the computer and I always mean to return and paint more but I never find the motivation for it.

After this, we shall go even further back in time.



Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A New City (page 4)

Final page.

This comic as you see doesn't have a high concept aspiration (well at least for me!) but yet uses a very labored upon method to get where it's going. I was at the time (this was early 2005) of the opinion that the 'smaller' the idea you wish to convey through comics the grander the method you should use. The reasoning behind this is simple: were this to be drawn in 3 panels and with stickmen, what reader would give it the thought they are giving it now as it is, 4 pages drawn as meticulously as I could at the time?

What? "Absolutely" I hear you say. Variations of "yes, given specific circumstances" the more meticulous amongst you correct. You are wiser than past me then, reader. There have been many comics (or pieces of art in general) dealing with small things in small means that still have a very real and strong impact on their readers. In fact, one of my favorite poems is a single phrase. But I am a man of extremes and that above extreme position pleases me with its sharp juxtaposition. I have wondered why that is and I have come to the theory that it's because they define a life in pleasing contrasts. I know this is dangerous, please perhaps keep in mind that I also realize its danger controls it somewhat!

I have since revised my position on the matter because I realized that the idea in this comic, although perhaps coming from a lower part of the body than the brain (somewhere in the gut, perhaps) is not a small one. It is a big one which still moves me very much. It might seem banal, the 'big cities are bad' concept, but it doesn't matter to me. Something inside me is wary of these utilitarian monstrosities, these mazes of concrete information. The city is not ones friend, it is there to facilitate impersonal commerce, inhuman trafficking, the only humanity that occurs in it is accidental, a glitch in the system, to be eventually purged. The 'old city' here (or as the ideologue who penned the title of this comic would have it, a 'A New City') is a crumbled one. Its purpose has crumbled. It is desolate and stark. What is left when the symbols shatter? A new way! The function the Bald Sci-Fi Dude (tm) gives to it is the exact contrast of its past. What is more human that a discrete place meant for personal relaxation, right in the bygone, unbeating heart of one more of these ugly multi-story towers that reach futilely towards something more than a humble sum of base pleasantries?

(Please make a note if you felt as if you were metaphorically looking at these old cities with a refreshing sense of relief that they are now in the past and thankfully gone, replaced by something better and more human. Keep that emotion in you and remember that they are still here and you're right in the middle of one. I am not trying to make a joke, keep that emotion close, it is a useful one.)

I cannot tell you how much I enjoy that panel in the page before this where we can see from the crumbled wall from the low vantage, along with our protagonist, in the insides of a few buildings. The disarray of the furnishings and items, like a heart attack it slew the beast from inside. It is very comforting to draw such things.

I do not like much the art in this comic anymore (I remember being very proud of it at the time) but I really appreciate the sentiment as much, if not more, as when I drew it. It has helped me have a meaningful dialogue with myself addressing an enduring unease with my place as a middle-class citi-zen which a culture of post-modernity has shielded me from... Shielded the comfortable-yet-somehow-discontent middle-class child-ape (= myself) from scratching that glaring wound, through sheer obfuscation of methodology. It broke down philosophy until one's tools were as meaningless as their emotions. "Wallow in semiotic self-pitty and most of all consume! Feel guilt and consume! Consume and feel guilt!" it cries. But this cannot go on forever, can it? Humans are problem solvers. Even when you close your eyes and you see inside you so much ugliness that is uncountable, at the very same time some withered vestigial appendige is trying to flex its elitrous wingspan to a promise of something more. Humans are problem solvers and humans use tools to solve their problems. It is the same with language, philosophy, art. We broke it, and now we're putting it back together in new ways. I am excited to be alive in 2009 because it will be soon now that something new will come.

The method proposed in this comic is a socially cowardly one (personal retreat, usually the comfort of the wealthy), but it is not obfuscated. It is clear in its intention and in that clear place (somewhere in the gut) good intentions lie.

- Helm


Monday, March 2, 2009

A New City (page 3)

God these irregular panel borders are driving me insane!
Digital watercolor ends here, we're left with black and white. I promise, it makes sense. This concludes in a couple of days.

Happy March :D



Sunday, March 1, 2009

BUY MY BOOK!! (seriously now)

I had written about this briefly a bit ago but now that I've finalized the AGREEMENT (with a severed horse head, of course) I thought I should let it be known more officially: Catch the Soap is now distributing the book I put out both in Greece and outside. So, if you're Greek and do not live in Athens where it can be bought in the regular comic stores or if you're from far, far away, you can put in an order with them. For orders e-mail them at orders@catchthesoap.com . It's still 5 euros plus shipping. Those of you that have already ordered keep in mind that I have not forgotten you and that your copies will be arriving soon. Then we can talk about how you will pay me back. Forever.

That's pretty much it for now, I will post more comics in a day or two. There's nothing below the jump. Trust me.

It is good that you trust nobody. Your life is your own, you owe me nothing.