[A bit of background on these thought posts can be read in this post.]
J recently shared this article with me, about “the origins of when comics became more mature and darker, and how that has played out in today’s culture,” as he put it.
This is what I replied:
“Really interesting read. I struggle with that idea too, that you have to be darker to appeal to adults. I remember when I first started drawing, I really didn’t like the dark twisted illustrations that you find in Juxtapoz and other contemporary art publications. I didn’t like how what was considered “cool grown up illustration” seemed to have to be weird and grotesque. Otherwise it was just kid’s stuff or commercial. Can’t have just a kawaii girl; there has to be a skull and poison ivy coming out of her eye.
As I came to better understand sadness and feeling dark, I understand why adult art tends to be darker. As a whole, we experience more sad things as we get older, whether that’s family passing away, loved ones leaving, or just feeling unfulfilled as childhood dreams fade. I think that’s really sad. But it is reality for a lot of people. Even the “happiest” of people, say wealthy beautiful celebrities, deal with depression and self-hatred. And say you want to point to simple coastal villagers with no internet access who live happy lives; that’s fine, but are they living in real life? What is real life anyway. So yeah, in my personal experience I also came to enjoy deeper illustration and not just rainbows and butterflies.
I still believe in happy and uplifting art. But maybe one that doesn’t ignore that there are darker things in life, just embraces it and shows we can still be good and happy. Seems maybe similar to what the author of the Killing Joke came to feel, that romanticizing malevolent characters isn’t really helping our human condition either. Instead, maybe we can find ways to be honest in telling stories that at once understand our society’s dark sides but pushes us towards its better sides.”