I love to draw comics because anything is possible. If you're painting, you have to get everything across visually. If you're writing, you have to get everything across in words. But when you combine images with writing, a completely new thing emerges.
It's a bit like music. You can try to write music on a sheet of paper, and you can perform that music in a studio. But something changes during live performance. Same notes, same band, same song, and yet live can be a very different experience. The canvas is bigger, it's more expressive, and so it feels like anything is possible.
I drew a lot of comics growing up. I never really cared for superhero comics, and I never really got into anime. In both cases, they seemed a bit too precious to me. I wanted to draw whatever was in my mind, untethered from any kind of defined structure. Sometimes it would be like a Sunday morning comic strip, in the style of Calvin and Hobbes. Sometimes it would be a manifesto in talk bubbles. All that mattered was that I could do anything.
Somewhere along the way I discovered the underground artists from the 60s like Robert Crumb. As I discovered that scene, I found more of that creative family tree. Zines, punk comics, found art. Artefacts that didn't feel like the creator had a business plan or even "good taste." Stuff that felt like the creators felt like they might keel over and die if they couldn't find a way to scrawl their ideas out somehow, in some way.
But that doesn't mean these passion projects need to be sad, of course. They don't need to address weighty topics like depression and alienation. Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night because a funny joke comes to your mind. Or grab for a slip of paper to scrawl down a joke you thought of on the bus. These quick moments of inspiration, whether positive or negative, are where my favourite kinds of comics excel.
For this issue of Plebe, I went looking for comics I had squirreled away on my iPad over the last few years. There's no single theme. I talk about Apple court cases, Russia, depression, designing a political structure in a fantasy world, and New Zealand brain drain. I had so much fun every time. Because drawing comics is really fun. And everything I drew here erupted from my pen because it was something I just had to say.
In mid-2022 I decided to see what sorts of comics I could write if I gave myself a one day deadline to do each one. I did the same exercise about 20 years ago to good results, so this was my next shot at the same concept.
I haven't been this excited to write a comic in years. When Twitter announced they might decentralise how Twitter works, it led to an absolute explosion of ideas. I loved writing this.
A quick two-pager sent to one of our customers at work.
I wrote this all the way back in 2019, before Joe Biden was the front-runner. In fact, he was in really big polling trouble when I wrote this. That's why I wrote it. If you don't understand how the primary system works, it's a surprise every four years when a candidate "loses the early states" but then ends up winning. And that's exactly what happened here.
Speaking of predictions, I thought it was pretty clear how the Apple v Epic court case was going by following along in the news, so I wrote this.
It got pretty popular online, and a lot of Apple-haters called me out for being too biased. But I think the facts of the case were pretty clear, and so did the judge. I'd argue the most biased people watching this case were the ones who wanted Apple to fail ... but couldn't point to a legal reason why they should.
It's not bias to look at the law, try to objectively figure out if someone is breaking it, and then delivering your conclusion. That's what I did, that's what the judge did, and it was all pretty by-the-book.
Sometimes I use comics to wrap my head around a concept that I'm trying to think through. That's what I did here, to think through a political structure in my fantasy world.
I'm sharing this one early even though I'm not done with it yet. The concept for the project was "what if I draw a comic with no attention paid to good drawing?" I hoped it would help me get more ideas out in a more speedy way. Originally I thought I'd loop back around and draw the panels at higher quality later on, but now I like the sketchiness of it. I think I'm going to keep this series going just like this.
And that's the end of Plebe #14! Thanks for reading!