So I was traversing the narrow bowels of my local "bookstore"; a word here meaning "a place of congregation for white people who pretend to like books and have horrible fashion sense, often inside of malls." I was seeking out a gift for the the only grandparent my family still speaks to, when my eyes caught on the shelf on the far wall. Seated, appropriately, with the other $10 garbage such as Garfield's Lasagna Orgy and New York Time's Crosswords: Gone Sexual! was a shitty little ring-bound pamphlet, titled: Adulthood Is a Myth. Emblazoned on the cover was the cartoon countenance of tumblr cartoonist Sarah Anderson.
Now, if, for some reason you're reading this site, you probably "know" me well enough to know that I don't use "lol tumblr" as a snarl phrase the way Justin Roiland or some milquetoast youtube armchair sociologist might. You know my standards for hurling insults at people are way better than that. I have class. Plus, I know for a fucking fact that the tumblr platform is infested with neo-nazi and alt-right types just as much as it is with misguided teenage leftists.
My jimmies are so rustled by these cut-rate Dilbert-wannabe comics on the internet which, despite a lack of talent in terms of writing, art, humor, or storytelling, attract huge audiences of foot-licking Nicki Minaj fans. The contempt I feel for these people doesn't just lie in their objective lack of artistry, it's the intrinsic dishonesty of them.
See, what really puts a bug up my ass about these cartoonists is their lack of integrity as artists. At some point, their goal became less about expressing mental illness and the struggles associated with it, but became a #relatable subject to cash in on. It becomes less, "This is my attitude on solitude and the emptyness intrinsic to the self," and more, "Guys look at me! Look how relatable I am! Here's a picture of me skinny - dipping in a pool of self-loathing, smiling blankly! Give me patreon dollars."
In a word, these cartoonists are saying a whole shit ton of nothing. If you've read one, you've read them all. The whole point of the comics is subtly normalizing and romanticizing mental illness. I know that sounds suspect, but bear with me here.
I'm reminded of the thing some Nine Inch Nails hipsters like to say, re: Trent Reznor. If I had a nickel for every time some pasty, mediocre tit put his hands on his nonexistant hips and said to me, "You know, I'm glad Trent is no longer cripplingly depressed, has a loving family, and is doing a lot better than he was in the nineties and early 2000's in general and all, but his music just isn't as good anymore," then I'd be able to purchase Trump Tower and pay some plumbers to turn all the water sprinklers into bidets. Aside from the fact that Hesitation Marks is literally one of the best albums to come out of Nine Inch Nails, I'm just somewhat uncomfortable with the implication that Trent was better off as an artist if he stayed depressed forever, or perhaps if he actually went through with killing himself while recording The Fragile. Maybe it's because I'm not exactly a paragon of mental health either, and take it kind of personally when people insinuate that I can only grow as an artist if I languish in misery until my early death. But these dumb kids are so obsessed with misery porn, having watched (but not understood) Breaking Bad, like, seven consecutive times, that they genuinely on some level think that sad=good.I have a phrase for you: it's "no fucking correlation."
It's like the evil cousin of what these stupid cartoonists are doing. In their case, however, the correlative logic the comics rely on is more like sad=relatable, and relatable=funny, and, finally, sad=funny. It's a triangle of Sad, Funny, and Relatable, you could say. A triangle of fucking stupid.
I'm not angry because I think these artists are "wallowing" or whatever - because directing that accusation at someone whose mentally ill is unbelievably insensitive, unhelpful, and has the side effect of making you as asshole. It's like saying to the guy with a broken leg (or perhaps a parapalegic) "you're just being lazy! Quit wallowing!" What am I to do? Lift myself by my god damn bootstraps? - no, the real reason I'm angry is because these artists are exploiting their illness and normalizing the symptoms. It's a selfish and pseudo-nihilist philosophy that dissuades people from getting the help they actually need - because, look! This moderately famous tumblr idiot feels sad too! And look how successful and creative it made them! How inspiring! How magnanimous of Owlturd to share his kingly wisdom on mental health and the nature of the human condition! I bet he's read a whole paragraph of Nietzche's work. His patreon is over there, thanks."
In a word, it's capitalism.
If these fucking people actually had a message, I could get behind it. If they had something meaningful to say about depression or bipolar or anxiety disorders, if they did work to spread awareness or say something more complex than "look i'm sad give me money," than I would take no issue with them! But they do none of these fucking things - because, at least at a subconscious level, these people know that if their fans get help, if their fans are able to articulate and diagnose their mental health in terms more complex than "I'm sad and want to commit suicide, lol meme," then the comics simply will not be "#relatable" any more. It's like if all of Trent Reznor's albums after Downward Spiral were literally the same as it, but with less substance each time. As though he saw the reaction to the album from the lonely and depressed and disillusioned, and decided that instead of growing as an artist and a person, that he should turn around and keep making more songs like "Hurt," just to cash in on other people's sickness. This is exactly what these hack-ass comic artists do. In truth, it hardly matters anymore that they are mentally ill, because any fucking idiot can read the wikipedia pages for "depression" and "anxiety disorder," draw a cartoon version of themselves (bonus points for ripping off the art style from more talented artists), and make a visual pun. It takes an artist to articulate a real message with those comics - it takes someone who wants to be a better person to say what others can't put into words and make them reflect on themselves and the human condition and society itself - not someone who sees their illness and the fact that they can hold a pencil without breaking it in half as an opprotunity to be a proud tumblr entrepeneur.
In short, I don't care how good at drawing you are, or how mentally ill you are; Don't drag me into the muck with you for patreon money.