This is my take on the viral Matt Bors comic. Someone actually said this to me about two years ago, and since then their comment has been living in my head rent-free. With this comic I hereby evict that unpleasantness and release it back into the wild.
I started drawing this comic earlier this year and finished it just to get it out of my drafts folder. In the time since I completed the line art, I made a firm decision to limit the negativity I post on social media. To be honest, most of the experiences that have had a major impact on my life during the past several years have been negative, but I’m not sure there’s any real use or meaning in representing them directly through autobiographical essays and comics. Instead, I’ve found much more satisfaction and catharsis in constructing analogies through the medium of fiction.
Also, I think there are a not insignificant number of people in the world (including the “yet you have a job” person) who tend to latch onto negativity to make bad-faith arguments about topics that could benefit from more nuance. Now that I’m at a stage of my life where I’m considering working on more collaborative projects, I’d prefer to keep that sort of interpersonal drama to a minimum. Thankfully, I’m in a better place now than I was when I started drawing this comic, and I hope the person who wrote this in response to one of my essays is in a better place too.
This comic is about how trauma isn’t just something that someone “overcomes” on the road to personal character development, but rather a significantly transformative experience with lingering aftereffects.
This comic is also about how significantly my art style has changed during the year after I left a traumatic workplace environment. It was an extremely difficult transition, but it’s important to create room to grow.
The song my husband is singing is (this one) from Azumanga Daioh.
“I would have just moved to another apartment,” someone commented when I posted this on Instagram. And I totally agree, but at the same time, moving during the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t easy, and I don’t want to do it again. My illustrated piece of flash fiction “Apartment Hunting” (here) is actually about how strange and unpleasant this experience was. It’s been difficult to try to navigate my professional life without a stable internet connection, but at least I have a large library of anime to help me make it through.
Embarrassingly enough, this actually happened to me in 2018.
The one thing I didn’t miss in 2020 was having to go to academic conferences. I’m not crazy about infinite Zoom meetings, but flying across the country to spend two nights in an expensive conference hotel so that I could work sixteen hours in one day wasn’t fun either. I used to love flying when I was younger, but I eventually got to a point where it started to stress me out. If nothing else, it’s nice to be able to take a break from conference travel.
I still use (this photo) to help myself cope with Zoom meetings, though.
The passage Balthazar is reading is from the introduction to the “Demons” entry of the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. The full paragraph reads:
Spawned in the Infinite Layers of the Abyss, demons are the embodiment of chaos and evil – engines of destruction barely contained in monstrous form. Possessing no compassion, empathy, or mercy, they exist only to destroy. The Abyss creates demons as extensions of itself, spontaneously forming fiends out of filth and carnage.
And this is just not a very nice thing to say, honestly.
I drew this comic to include as the interstitial illustration following the sixth chapter of The Demon King, which I’m posting on AO3 (here).