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.



Nick said...

Awesome .. The last images at the down-right corner with the bald human with skull as a third eye(?) and especially the one with the fetus stunned me!

You know what, I could put a very certain label to it as to characterize it, but I won't do it as I find this very label rather vague and shallow. I am talking about the thought that sprung to my mind about tagging it as 'psychedelic'. The last years I had formed the -stupid, as I now redifine certain things- habit of putting the tag 'psychedelic' to anything that seemed to contain enough elements of abstractness,randomness,weirdness , surreal or unusuall/out of the ordinary expression. I had ended up completely stretching this term and using it to describe anything that touched me or made me a significant impression. Well, I am trying to reject this habit - is it it just me or it's not that easy to break the loops one's mind is used to thinking in?- because it can be rather confusing. Words should have a meaning or it's easy to get lost. By the way, I think you would also react to this tag,elaborate.

To continue, the parts I felt I could connect and relate more to were : "you are thinking the cruelese things" , "nothing left to fell affection for", "I am here and I don't even know it" and the image with the fetus.

Helm said...

Yeah I probably would react to 'psychedelic' because it's one of these terms you know... unless used literally (as to describe an experience related directly or indirectly with the use of psychedelic drugs) I find it's an easy way for someone to forgo the trouble of actually having to express a finer emotion with more words. In the same way people say 'surreal' without meaning anything similar to Surrealism or they say, as I mentioned above, 'poetic' for things that are not concerned with the goals and means of poetry... stuff like that. Cliches. I can see why you'd want to break out of that loop.

Thank you for your observations, of course :)

Anonymous said...

Is there anything behind the picture in the hotel room?

Helm said...

The thought hadn't occurred to me at the time.

Solar said...

Actually really like the hotel room. These rooms are so generic they might as well be a point and click adventure. Now what should I do: contemplate, ponder, yearn or use my fork. Fork FTW!