The webcomics blog about webcomics

More Autobio (And Then Some)

This week, I completely fell for Tom Humberstone’s Vented Spleen site. I’d originally been referred by a friend who knows my taste to his recent post for 24 Hour Comics Day, the aptly-titled Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohn’s Disease. It’s a straightforward autobio account about the creator’s diagnosis and about living with Crohn’s, what it means for his life, and thinking through some of those issues in a public forum. I think my friend sent the link along for a few reasons, not the least of which is that every year I talk a good game about doing a 24 Hour Comic and yet I never quite sit down and do it. It’s less a lack of stick-with-it-ness (I did finish NaNoWriMo the year I signed up, plus, y’know, there was that grad school grudge match thing) and more just poor scheduling on my part (I had tickets to see They Might Be Giants…and the guy sitting one row in front of me was wearing a Republicans for Voldemort t-shirt).

What hooked me was that Everything You Never Wanted… is not only autobiographic work by a man about corporeality, but the images are also reminiscent of two of my favorite artists (one being Seth, the other Craig Thompson) in terms of some of the lettering and the use of color as well as some of the line work. Years ago, I scrambled to find a text much along these lines to include in an Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory course I taught at the University of Delaware. While the work I chose (it was Fight Club…) worked well, I would have loved to have had more of a range. Everything You Never Wanted To Know About Crohn’s Disease would have fit spectacularly. It’s very compelling.

Humberstone’s been writing, drawing, and publishing for about three years; he’s based in London and his work does have a range; the 24 Hour Comic has quite a different feel to it than some of his other work, including How To Date A Girl In 10 Days. The latter’s a lovely little story, but when you click the link be careful to note the order of the pages since they were posted in sections. Organizatiuonally, it’s tough to read since you’ve got to remember to start at what looks like the end and kind of read backwards. It’s a complicated process, but it’s totally worth the work.

And, of course, we should note: they’re originally minicomics which have been scanned and made available online. In most cases I prefer print, since images don’t always come up as crisp on a computer screen and in Humberstone’s case much of the artwork’s fine lines and precise lettering don’t translate ideally to the screen. Still, being that he’s in London, getting actual copies of the print works is unfortunately cost-prohibitive. And here’s where this issue links to my recent posts about webcomics: it’s an online version of a print comic created by someone who does regularly update a website with his varied work. There are some fabulous sketchbook images as well as illustration work ranging from promo posters to EP covers for bands. It’s work I wouldn’t have seen without the website. So that’s tempered some of my thinking about webcomics and print; perhaps next week I’ll go looking for something toward the other end of the spectrum.

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