depression comix #328

Music has helped me deal with a lot of problems in my life. I listen to what a lot of people call “depressing” music, but that so-called “depressing” music is often a similar voice that I can relate to during those times. The singer feels the same way I do. I’m not alone.

For this strip, I wanted to do something different. I added an extra “fifth” panel which I did a year before. I like these fifth panels because they allow me to stretch out a bit and draw a panel on a single piece of paper, and add a little depth to the story. I liked the image of these two singing together, two friends sharing their pain in a positive way. It took a few sketches to get it right, and a few tries to get which Leonard Cohen lyric to use, but it came out OK (I first used lyrics from “Chelsea Hotel #2” – “We are ugly but we have the music.”, which is what apparently Janis Joplin said to Leonard Cohen, but didn’t work without context so I switched to lyrics from “Joan of Arc”)

Another idea I had was a playlist with which readers could vote to make a playlist of depressing music that they liked. When this went live, I realized that readers could not enter their own songs to vote on, making it kind of useless. So for the first hour of the comic strip going up, I scrambled to find a replacement, which I did — Spotify. This ended up being a better idea because readers could actually listen to the songs people suggest, and it would be a comminity thing. Unfortunately, with some solutions, more problems pop up — I had to enter the songs into Spotify manually, and many songs were not licensed for use in Japan, and people ended up sending me long lists. It took me a long time to search for and enter all the songs, and people are STILL sending me suggestions though I closed that off long ago.

It was a great thing to do for the comic, and something that made the one comic a little more special. I should do these kind of things more often, they really add to the experience of reading all these monochromatic comics.

Read here -> https://www.depressioncomix.com/posts/328/

depression comix #327

This strip is about panic attacks. It was on my to-do list for a very long time, but I was never sure about how to go about doing it. A few weeks before doing this, I received a mail on tumblr asking me for such a strip, and I thought it was time to set myself to work on trying to depict it.

I’ve had a couple of panic attacks, and I can tell you they are terrifying experiences. I don’t think I can properly communicate the terror in a comic, but I can try. My first one happened over twenty years ago and I can still remember those feelings, as well as afterwards when I had my breathing back to normal and I was moving, but it took me a long time to talk after that. I don’t know how it compares to PTSD but panic attacks do mess you up.

I’m hoping this comic will start some conversation about panic attacks. I am still weary of them and it took me a long time to get over the circumstances that brought them about.

I’ll do more strips on this in the future if I can find a way to say something new about it. But like bipolar (which I still haven’t gotten around to doing) it’s really difficult to do strips about something like this in the confined space of 4 panels. But it’s worth doing and I hope to make a comic about the subject that is worth the time.

The strip can be seen here -> https://www.depressioncomix.com/posts/327/

depression comix #326

This week’s strip is about bullying. It’s amazing how people, through the miracle of cognitive dissonance, conveniently forget the horrible things they’ve said or done or see them in a way that highlights a perceived weakness of the victim. And if you’re the victim, who had been in these threatening situations loathing every moment of it, who suffered through it all, there is simply no justice in it. We live in an era where you can deny your own faults and actions, dismiss them as jokes or locker room talk.

Regardless, these things can cause real and long-lasting harm. They cause victims to live a life that has a baseline level of paranoia, a lack of trust, and an active avoidance of situations that remind them of the original event. What makes this even worse is the denial of  cupability when these things are brought up. They try to gaslight the victim by making those past frightening events into something less threatening, and then blame the victim for exaggerating the situation. This is a double-victimization.

All of this applies especially so to survivors of sexual assault. Originally the strip was going to be specifically about that but in the writing stage the dialogue got more generalized so it became about bullying in general. That’s why this particular character appears in the strip, but I still want to talk about the connections between sexual assault and mental health in future strips.

Read it here: https://www.depressioncomix.com/posts/326/

depression comix #325

This is what it was like for me nearly every day back when I was doing Sexy Losers from 2003 on.  Despite having thousands of readers at the time there was no way to convince me that what I was doing was any good, and all the jokes I had I came to believe were just not funny enough to commit to paper.  Even though I was still generating ideas here and there, I was always thinking to myself they weren’t worth doing, no one will laugh and I’m just continuing a big joke that was on me. Soon I wasn’t even bothering to generate ideas, because what was the point. Everything I did sucked, and the only thing I was doing by continuing was proving to the world that I indeed sucked.

These feelings of inadequacy still haunt me and I was feeling it a lot late last year.  Although I’m not making jokes like I used to, I still get the feeling that no one understands and that I’m missing the point when I do particular strips or that I’m saying something terribly wrong and offensive. Depression undercuts your confidence in your ideas and work and convinces you that they’re no good.

Maybe for some people these awful feelings that come with depression help them be more creative. It’s definitely something that doesn’t happen with me. Depression makes me too critical with myself and what I do to even let me begin a lot of the time.

Now that I do depression comix, it is a bit easier for me to generate new stuff because I don’t have to worry about being funny, just be on topic. That goal is a lot easier to reach than to have to think about how to make a joke funny enough to minimize “that wasn’t funny” remarks. Critics of humour can be quite harsh and that’s one of the reasons why Sexy Losers has stalled so much.

See the strip here: https://www.depressioncomix.com/posts/325/

depression comix #324

This strip was inspired by a question I get occasionally about the first characters in the strip eventually getting together. That was never a plan; I doubt with her inability to understand depression coupled with his inability to “get over it” that any romantic spark would flourish, and if it did, it would probably not last long. I believe this is what she feels, that if she says the correct string of words he’ll wake up. And we of course, know this isn’t going happen.

There’s also the idea that depression isn’t normal, which, to be fair,  isn’t the norm. But to the sufferer, who has had depression creep up on them over a long time and take over most of the facilities, it does feel like their own version of normal. It’s normal to wake up dreading the day. It’s normal to spend the day with thoughts of despair. It’s normal to spend the night wishing you weren’t alive to feel this way. There is nothing to snap out of, this is The New Normal. For those that don’t suffer this is difficult to grasp, that you life can fundamentally change in a way and still seem superficially the same. What goes on in your head and body is different, even though we’re still similar in our routines and appearance.

View here: https://www.depressioncomix.com/posts/324/

 

depression comix #323

This was the last strip of 2016. Given the global mood it didn’t really warrant one of those positive feel happy strips but more of a grumble.  Not every year can be a good year, and sometimes we have to slog it out through the miserable ones. But the good news is we did make it another year, and I’m glad to be doing these comics, and I’m especially glad that people are still reading them.

This one was a tricky one to do because I didn’t want to be particularly hopeful with this one. Usually with these kinds of comics it’s appropriate to show some kind of optimism for the new year but I couldn’t do it. Instead, I chose a guarded optimism, a “well, at least we made it” message 2rather than “maybe next year will be better.” Because I’m, writing this in March, it’s easy to look back and see, yeah, any optimism would have been unfounded and naive.

I had to go back to the previous year’s strip and make sure that they are wearing the same thing in the drawing at the bottom, including the Gryffindor scarf (although they aren’t sharing it this time). Sometimes I forget about continuity and I drew Robin wearing a different scarf by mistake.

You can read the strip here: https://www.depressioncomix.com/posts/323/