Jesus Freaks and Multiple Orgies: Religion and Sex in Craig Thompson’s “Blankets”

Orgy, excessive indulgence in a specified activity. (Google)

Craig is obviously fucked up.

Who could blame him though, with his abusive upbringing?

Craig’s brother, Phil, was locked in an “uninsulated, unlit, and uninhabited” room filled with “spiders and vermin” (pg. 16) by their abusive father because Craig “couldn’t sleep.” Both brothers were sexual abuse by their baby sitter (pg. 29-32)—or at least it was implied.  Verbal abuse from school bullies since 3rd grade calling him diseased (20), retarded (21), poor (78), etc. all the way through High School.

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After facing physical, verbal, and sexual abuse it is no surprise that he would seek some form of escape. First drawing became a means of escape, but then religion replaces it. Religion was attractive because he could cope with the suffering in this life by idealizing another in heaven. The shift was not easy. He burned all of his childhood drawings deeming them “—the most secular and selfish” worldly pursuits (58.), since it apparently prevented him from fully committing to his Bible studies (56-58).

Which is funny when you think about it. Since marking on paper (i.e. drawing) is exactly what writing is. When looked at from that perspective, the Bible is really just a sacred drawing.

The Bible is really just a sacred drawing.

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Is Asterios Polyp a Tragedy?

Real Tragedy is never Truly Resolved.

Or at least that’s what I believe.

Tragedy, a branch of drama that treats in a serious and dignified style the sorrowful or terrible events encountered or caused by a heroic individual. – Encyclopaedia Britannica

Asterios Polyp is at least by definition a tragedy. Terrible things just keep happening to him: his house is incinerated, his wife leaves him, he’s an architect who can only critique not create, and the list goes on. That is why the incorporation of Greek elements throughout the story is not surprising. Take for example, the story of “Orpheus”. Read More

“Asterios Polyp” Observations: Suffocation, Snakes, and Silent Screaming

…okay, let’s just see how this goes.

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Asterios is suffocating Hana.

He has been for quite some time now. As established in a previous post, Asterios has a nasty habit of cutting Hana off when she is speaking. He also does the same (less harshly) to his own mother when they go to visit his parents. At first, I saw this as just a regular ole bad habit, but upon closer examination it becomes clear that it is harmful and even abusive towards Hana in hindsight.

He minimizes her contributions to the household, and minimizes the importance of her talents. When her “Knight in Shining Armour” arrives in the form of a short, rotund man named Willy Ilium he too begins to suffocate her.

He makes her feel very important by 20160125_024112acknowledging her talents, but soon begins directing her career much like Asterios tries to direct every conversation. So Willy has began his own suffocation, just more subtly.

Which brings me to my next point…

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Willy Ilium is a snake.

[Willy Ilium] is the snake part of the Chimera, which is fitting because he’s an ass.

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Physical Language: Asterios Polyp Speech Bubble Analysis

Asterios does not only live in a box, but he speaks in one also.

The big idea is Characterization through Curvature. 

Everyone else has more rounded speech bubbles with some curvature variations, which serve as characteristic cues; however, Asterios’ speech is almost always rigid and square–like he is.

With Women: Speech bubbles seem to not only differentiate women from Asterios, but the shape of each bubble also serves as a tool to revealing each woman’s personality.

Take for example…

Asterios’ Various Sexual Escapades Read More

Existing is a Common Problem

Solipsism – a theory in philosophy that your own existence is the only thing that is real or that can be known (Merriam Webster).

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Existing is a common problem.

What sets Asterios Polyp apart from typical existential literature is the emphasis on color. Asterios’s world centers around colour. That there is “color [in] the way each individual experiences the world” (pg. 32).

In Asterios’ world, events are coloured blue, which is kind of blah, or yellow, which is present in essential things like flower, fire, sunlight …and light in general, yet both are still very common colours. So far, Asterios’ world is basically ‘common‘ and ‘blah’ most of the time–even in exciting moments like his house burning down.  Yellow and blue seem to be his default, and although they are primary colours he makes them generic by using them to colour almost all situations he has encountered thus far.

In perspective, many people have very dull, repetitive, generic experiences, everyday… bus rides, going through the subway, small talk with strangers, sitting in class, faculty parties, etc. all very common and crushingly boring. ‘Common’ and ‘boring’ register as yellow and blue in Asterios’ world, and so in a sense his world is coloured boring.

In Ignazio’s case, the dead twin and assumed narrator, everything is colourful. Even if in reality Asterios is boring as dirt to Ignazio his world seems colourful and interesting. As one who has never experienced life, Asterios’ life is the only one he knows.

And if there is “color [in] the way each individual experiences the world” (32), that begs the question: is Asterios colouring his life this way… or is Ignazio?

Either way, I guess when you don’t have a life (either literally or figuratively) then any life is colourful.

Even a boring life is colourful.

– based on Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

Abstraction is like truth.

There are varying degrees of abstraction just like there are varying degrees of truth.

Take Pi for example. When calculating pi, hardly anyone uses the full formula. Most people use 3.14 or 3.141 or even 3.14159, either way all these numbers are pi. Just because one uses 3.14 instead of 3.14159… does not make 3.14 any less pi. 3.14 is just the common and simplified version of pi.

Abstraction works the same way. Even as details are being stripped from the human face to make it simpler, it still remains a face with all the basics: eyes, nose, lips, cheeks, etc.. The reason abstracts are so powerful, and able to inspire feelings of allegiance (as in the case of superheroes or villains), or nostalgia (i.e. Snoopy, Scooby-Doo), or become iconic (i.e. Mickey Mouse) is because meaning can be added to it. It is a blank slate, much like the narrator, and employs “amplification through simplification.”

The reason it is so easy to add ideas and meaning to images is because human beings are self-centered. We look to see ourselves in everything. Faces appear where there are none (i.e. electrical sockets and cars), and in the same way meaning is added where perhaps there is no meaning intended. When things are simplified and ‘blank’ it is all too irresistible to project oneself onto it, and therefore abstraction (especially cartoons) are so beloved.  It fulfills our narcissistic tendencies.

The beauty of comics has more to do with the individual than the artist really. The ‘blankness’ of any abstracts lets a person fill in details for themselves. Create a world that they want. In a way, it’s self-flattery and hints at humanity’s God complex. Filling in ‘reality’ gives off a sense of power; since in real life (reality) people are pretty powerless over their lives/environments. Is it ‘real’? Nah. Is it fun and interactive? Yea. The “realness” of comics does not matter, and the ‘un-realness’ is what makes it so enduring.

(What is reality anyway?)

(What the hell is pi too for that matter?)

-based on “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud (pg. 24 -59)