Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Abyss Stares Back #1: Teenage Profanity, Comedic Spirit & Nietzsche

Art is the supreme task and the truly metaphysical activity in this life -
Friedrich Nietzsche

The Abyss Stares Back is an odd comic. It`s immature. It's low brow. It's raw. It's crude. It needs refinement. It's the beginning of something great. I've had the pleasure to find a copy of The Abyss Stares Back, an odd short comic, at a comic book store in London (Ontario). I even accidentally met the artist, albeit quite awkwardly, during that short visit. The comic says it's by Patty O. Fernitür, which I'll have to assume is not a real name. I've done some research, but I've come up empty (the link to a wordpress has been removed or is not available), with only a handful of fake names for this artist, maybe it's Jillian Clair, Jay Clair. Or maybe her name really is Patty O. Fernitür, in which case, I apologize for the previous comment. Awesome name, not weird at all...

The Abyss Stares Back has an unapologetic punk attitude. A sort of "fuck the world", laissez-faire  attitude, relentlessly asking of the world "why are you doing what you're doing" and begging the world to be self-reflective. That is quite appealing to me for some reason. I've browsed through a copy of Punks: The Comic and it had nowhere near the amount of energy that this short comic had. The reader senses immediately that the artist has some angst and that this is their way to express it. A short warning for the crude nature of the material contained in the comic is prominently displayed on the cover, most likely making it even more enticing to the youth through it's defiant anti-authoritarian label. The comic opens with a comic about why women shave their pubes, followed by a fake history of poo, a reflection of couples holding things for each other, and commentary on scarves and beards. The fake history of poo is actually quite hilarious; a sort of absurd and surreal historical account of poo throughout history. It betrays a deeply comedic voice under all of this angst. 

The comic title uses a quote from Nietzsche which is slightly misleading. He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you. If you study something for too long, you risk becoming it. When reading this comic, I see an artist who intends to fight against conformity and for whom the resistance method of choice has been derision. I understand that move; I chose to laugh at everything when I was younger. Comedy being the best way to ensure nothing ever gets to you. It's a shield; a shelter. By laughing at something, you rob it of it's power. I'm not entirely sure that this relates to Nietzsche in this context. Perhaps a fear of becoming like the majority and the inevitability of eventually becoming domesticated, like "the rest of them". I've always felt as though some aspects of my life were defined by a desperate need to not be like my parents, to not inherit their worst traits. Perhaps it is a fear shared by this creator. 

I hope that this artist finds her calling, whatever it may be. There's great promise in this short comic. The art appears quite rudimentary, but it's efficient. It's not polished, nor does it seem like it`s meant to be, but it could be, and this is all I wanted to see.

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