A collection of transcripts for some of my comics. Half intended for comics and half for spoken word.
Sometimes I read tweets lamenting the phenomenon of artist accounts becoming less active, less personal.
[Image: A person with a sad face icon tweets: I don't like it when artists stop posting about their personal life and hobbies. So cold. Unfollowed.]
And I am like [a drawing of myself directing an extremely confused and cynically doubtful look at my phone]
You want people to be vulnerable, on Twitter dot com?
This gladiatordom of powerless discourse and faux media activism, where the unfinished prefrontal cortex reigns supreme? Here?
An artist tweets, "Check out my new studio!" sharing a photo of a neat, well-lit small room fitted with plants and Ikea furniture.
A random user, perhaps the same person as the sad face icon, responds, "gross you capitalist bourgeoise pig enemy".
Author's note: this actually happened]
Meanwhile, the real capitalist pig enemy sits at the top suppressing wages, sucking oil out of the earth and poisoning the water and soil with fascism.
[Image: A piglet in a bowtie sits in front of a laptop, relishing the drama of likes and retweets. It snorts, "Boy oh boy this discourse! Glad I'm not the one getting cancelled. YAS QUEEN!"]
It's hard to be #authentic #cutedogs #personalproject on the same platform as news reports that in a medieval fiefdom might be a signal of the endtimes.
[Image: A timeline of tweets. The first shows a picture of a silly wholesome duckling asleep in a flower hat. The second tweets, "Entire forests burn as CEOs convert ashes to $$$". The third tweets, "I got married!". The last tweets in a non-ironic way, "Death cult politics is good actually" followed by a smiley face. Below this timeline is a parody of a medieval era drawing, of a man holding a phone as the top of his head is bloodily stabbed by another man's sword from behind. The stabbed man cheerily says, "Welp, that's enough internet for today" as he continues to doomscroll. This man represents me. The headstabber is Twitter.]
Our ancestors would have applauded us for our mental resilience [imagine this in a sarcastic voice followed by gibberish laughter]
Honestly if you want an authentic, vulnerable, personal experience from a human being it's not gonna be on an attention economy centralised corporate technocratic platform powered by algorithms and trollbots.
[Image: A monkey in a fez nervously dances in front of a crowd of eyes, being tossed coins that represent likes and retweets. The crowd heckles the monkey, "Dance monkey dance!" "Keep dancing or you'll lose views lol" "You mean nothing without us" "Please be perfect"]
And it's not gonna happen by demanding strangers to open up to you for the sake of building a brand built for your convenience.
[An image of me, an artist, resting peacefully as I blacklist the entire site and cut all ties with the social media market. My phone is off. My world is still.]
Will I Know Passion Untainted By Anger Ever Again?
Will I know passion untainted by anger ever again?
"In times of dread, artists must create," said Toni Morrison in 2004 (paraphrased).
I hear the call.
"Create dangerously," said Albert Camus in 1957.
Yes, I hear you!
I know. I know.
Says me, a random graphic novelist in 2020.
A while ago I realised it was no use giving in to despair
Since apathy was what got us here in the first place
(though I'll not fault anyone for feeling depression).
So in protest
Or a reach about in the dark some kinda catharsis
The fire of passion within me turns
Melting my rage into forms liquid-tangible enough
To become a drawing or a book or something someone else can see
TO FREAKING SNAP OUT OF IT!
Oh my god.
Why do people never learn?
Why do they never listen?
A Twitter follower said this to me, in reply to a letter I wrote about being angry-inspired:
"god this is a mood if i ever see one. it's like holding a burning charcoal hoping it'll turn into a diamond if you're patient enough,
but it still burns you"
I know in troubled times like these it is my duty to Create Dangerously.
To give shape to the cultural moments of my generation.
To record, to uplift, to rebel.
But at the end of all this
(if there ever will be an end)
Will I ever remember to simply, idly, peacefully,
Oh what a stupid question when the world is spining and melting and raging outta control.
When I don't know if in the next few decades the internet or tablets or even charcoals will continue to exist.
But that is neither here and now.
The here and now is that, I exist,
and like some people (hopefully), am affected by the stupid consequences of things that shouldn't even happen anyway if people in power have not been so cavalier and apathetic and careless about I dunno? The lives and dignities of other human beings?
(Every man for himself)
I just want to live in uninteresting times and mind my own business and be taken care of and know that others are being cared for too.
So simple. Yet so difficult.
(Dog eat dog)
Will I ever know passion untainted by anger ever again?
Will I recall the pen as a pen
and not a mightier sword?
Or to write inspired by the call of the Muse
and not as a call to arms?
Or to welcome silence as creative respite
and not as damnation for complicity?
I don't know I can't answer this.
The God we killed and still pray to is silent.
In this silent emptiness
All I can do now
is Create Dangerously.
"All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."
wrote WH Auden, in September 1, 1939.
Give me the strength and the will to keep the eternal fires alight.
For humanity, for hope,
"Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame."
Will I know passion
untainted by love
Body of Work
I never cared about my body.
I didn’t self-harm. I didn’t sabotage. But I didn’t care about it, you know?
It was just my body.
I spent most of my life
Not doing anything to my body.
No makeup. Barely any skincare. No hair stuff. No aspirations.
(I ate well and I also like fashion though.)
Because it was just my body. So what?
I didn’t feel it was worth the effort.
I think it’s ‘cause I know I am “ugly” –
since I was a kid and I began to notice the existence of this sort of thing.
Even today, I still think I’m not pretty.
But I also don’t care about it, you know?
I’m so “ugly” I completely divorced myself from my appearance.
If you tell me I am ugly or I am pretty I will shrug.
I’m so “ugly” my self-worth no longer found itself in my body or my face
Instead it finds itself elsewhere.
I put so much of my being into my art and story.
I care about that - what’s outside of me, what’s me but not entirely me, my body of work - more than my own actual body.
Because that’s where I see who I really am. Because I can look at my craft - the time and love I put into it -and think, “this is wholly, completely mine.” And I don’t care if it’s ugly or pretty. It’s just mine.
Five years ago, to mark my college graduation, I did one wild thing.
I coloured my hair.
I thought, why not? I’m a newly inducted young adult. I’m free. I’m paying for it with money I earned from my art. I can do whatever I want.
My parents and neighbours were surprised. My friends liked it.
(It inspired them to start colouring their hair too)
That dye job may not be pretty or ugly, but meant something.
It was the first time I made a decision
and crafted my body.
On my own terms.
Three years ago I tried makeup and skincare.
It started as a lowkey thing.
I don’t like maintenance. I don’t like to spend so much time putting on something and more time taking it off. I am also wary of change.
I got a few things anyway.
‘cause I wanted to make all these decisions on my body, and see if I like them.
(I did end up liking most)
Over time, slowly, I stopped feeing so divorced from my body.
I no longer saw it as something outside myself.
But as part of my body of work. A body, like my art and my stories, that I can craft my entire life. A body that can also reflect those same art and stories I care so much about.
“Everything that I am and do is wholly, completely mine”
I don’t care if it’s ugly or pretty.
It’s just my body.
King of Many Faces and Many Names
Now, my friends, tell me:
have you, with your two eyes and two ears and one mouth, ever known a figure such that the world had never seen before
and never will again?
You may know him by one of his many faces and many names…
Zulkarnian, Alisaunder, Alexandri, Sikander…
He who travelled to the end of the world,
beyond the reach of all known wisdom.
He who ascended to heaven
and was called down by the angels.
He who descended into the ocean
and saw all the wonders of the deep.
He who was a son of man
son of god
son of nobody.
He who destroyed
and he who rebuilt.
He, who travelled to the water of life…
Brought to life
Hush now, my friends, and listen.
I’m only an heir
of a legacy, 2000 years young.
A protege of the poets and the artists
of many gods, and the one God,
from lands east and west.
Many-voices tongued and many-colours handed,
we weavers of wonder, recount
the many lives
and many deeds
of this man of monies.
Hush now, and listen closely,
to my story among stories,
of the king of many faces and many names…
Of Alexander the Great.