Monday, September 30, 2013

How A Webcomic Saved Me One Night, And What Came Out of It




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I was going to post an irritable story about this old man in a jeep, but perhaps that’s a tale for another time. Because tonight, I was saved by an amazing webcomic called Sinfest.

For those of you who aren’t aware – in which case, for shame! – Sinfest is the daily webcomic of Tatsuya Ishida. It is awash with fallible, lovable characters, blasphemous yet heartwarming content, and beautiful art. The humor is very age of the Internet – it being a webcomic, that is to be expected – and the author is a recluse, much like Bill Watterson, or – definitely a better comparison – Thomas Pynchon.

This latter fact is perhaps part of the charm, as Ishida’s attempts to connect with his audience is through his personification in the comic itself, otherwise known as “the Artist”, and through the witty signatures he uses from Monday to Saturday (his Sunday comics are signature-less, given the format of the Sunday strips). Like so:

u-ya

I could not stop laughing at the "Oo Yeah" pun. Yes I am that shallow.

Knowing how reclusive the man is, I was very excited to find an interview of Ishida from 2011. While I respect the artist’s right to his privacy, I love reading interviews with reclusive authors I happen to like; anything non-fiction written by the other two people on my list in the second paragraph is always relevant to my interests.

One of the things that intrigued me the most about the interview was his reaction to how well readers responded to the segment of the comic that dealt with the relationship of Criminy, a quiet, nerdy bookworm, and Fuchia, an artist who hated her job as a devil (her day job consisted of punishing souls in hell). The story resonated with readers because it speaks of one of the most primal emotions there is. Of course, as the interview says, it could also be due to the whole “opposites attract” situation. But something tells me that there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Recently, Huffington Post featured this article about why Generation Y kids seemed lonelier than previous generations. A friend of mine (I haven’t asked permission to mention him by name, so I wont) said that this article could be misleading. The fact is, these lonely people could have been around for a relatively long time now. It just so happened that the Internet gave them a way to voice their feelings to a wider audience. Back in the days before the Internet, these folks didn’t have a way to communicate, so we naturally assumed that they were less in number.

I’m not completely sold on that, but people relating to Criminy and Fuchia could well be evidence of this. People could relate to Criminy because he’s a shy introvert in love with a girl who, normally, would be out of his league. And people relate to Fyoosh since she’s a girl who’s trying to break out of the mold in order to be with the one she loves.

In other words, two lonely people who just happened to meet a person who happens to complete them.

And isn’t that what everybody ultimately wants? I mean, millions of people spend every waking hour of their lives trying to find that one person who can complete them. And you know what? Sometimes, they fail. Often, they end up settling, and then they become grumpy and lonelier than ever.

But once in a while, there’s that magical spark that makes you think that your stars miraculously aligned for just one evening. You meet a person, and then you know. And not in the way they make it look like in the movies, where knowing is a one-time thing that lasts forever (or at least until the credits roll – who knows what happens afterwards?). You know that no matter what happens, you’re going to make this work, because this person is amazing. Because this is what you think completes you, and you’ll fight tooth and nail to keep that with you.

And it doesn’t even have to have anything to do with love. It could be a passion – writing, the arts, your work, anything. Sometimes, you just stumble into that one thing, and you know that this is the missing piece of your puzzle. It’ll be what gets you throughout the day, and you will be very happy to have found it.

Some people don’t realize that they’ve found that one thing, and they let it slide. And that’s okay. Because there never really is just “one thing”. There will always be a series of “one things”. You will always be completed by something. Sometimes, it won’t be enough on its own, and you’ll actually have to work hard to supplement it with something else that works.

And that’s what the humanities are for. Sometimes, logic can’t dictate what is best, because logic will sometimes point out the most painful route. Art helps the soul survive that, by nourishing it with love and hate, pain and joy, and all the myriad colors of the emotion. We survive these emotional, illogical times by nourishing our souls with the experiences of others. Like a unified hive mind of sorts, we complete ourselves by immersing our minds and hearts in the lives and times of our more artistically inclined betters.

And that’s why I read books and strips like Sinfest. Because sometimes, life doesn’t make sense, and I need to see one-liners like Ishida’s “Oo yeah” pun in order to regain my center. I do not become fully whole afterwards, but what matters is that for a brief moment, I am at the apex of my own personal nirvana.


Welp, I let that post run away from me, didn’t I? So why don’t I just end it here by saying go read Sinfest. A good book (or comic) will make you laugh. It will make you cry. And it will save your life.

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