If you follow me on Insta you’ll be well-aware of my obsession with a particular type of account: comics. Amongst high compliments on my (frequent…/incessant) stories such as ‘I think they are lols’, and the odd complaint such as ‘you abuse that Instagram story function’, I get the occasional dot of gratitude for sharing my arty discoveries with the world (or, well, my remaining followers). My favourite pieces are those which capture a deep emotion and turn it into something light, witty, and funny. Without further adieu (in no particular order) here are my top 8!
Sarah Anderson needs a post to herself, because my adoration can’t be summed up, here, in a few lines. Of all the comics I consistently laugh at and share, hers are always those I find most relatable. It’s with Sarah’s Scribbles that I usually think: oh my god, there’s someone else out there like me, and feel endlessly comforted. Part of my personality that I’ve always struggled to accept is my sensitivity, but Sarah Anderson captures this, too, with a light humour that suggests funny self-criticism and awareness, but also self-acceptance. I don’t know her personally, but feel I do: to me, she comes across as an intelligent, sensitive, creative woman with a love of art, an eye for cuteness, and a social perception I find refreshing and real.
… You actually paid for a top with this on? Yes! And I have a tote bag, too! But I couldn’t find it, since it’s probably at the bottom of a reusable Tesco bag somewhere with some well-past-its-prime budget hummus. Anyway, the point is this: I love this comic so much and find it so applicable to my everyday life that I bought a T-shirt with its main slogan on. I like that Alex Norris not only recognises the constancy of ‘oh no’ moments, but reduces them to just that punchline: whether it’s as simple as failing to get a task done or as deep-feeling as yet another broken heart, sometimes all you can really do is say ‘oh no’ and feel comforted by the fact that a lot of other people are saying it, too. I think the deliberate silliness of the badly-drawn style and deadpan titles (a fave is: ‘why do you care’) add to its overall message: everything is a bit crap, but that’s funny, universal, and doesn’t present a problem to solve, just a situation to shrug and say ‘oh no’ to.
A lesser-known account and a work of pure genius: Garfield Minus Garfield does what it says on the tin by removing the beloved main feline character from his own comics, to reveal ‘the gradual existential crisis’ of his owner, John. One awesome thing about this account is that it reminds me not to neglect the classic comics, which, even when edited, are often deeper and more poetic than they first appear (stay tuned for posts about ‘Moomins as a Surrealist Masterpiece’ or ‘The Philosophy of Snoopy’).
‘Poorly Drawn Lines’ is cute and quirky, with light lil’ jokes on pretty much everything you can imagine. Adorable though it may be, don’t be fooled by its innocent style, as this is another account more profound thoughts lurk beneath: the minimalist style (and account name!) allow for a very bare aesthetic, but what is said is usually universal, poignant, and comically-absurd.
Hannah Hillam should be up there with the likes of Dali, in my (fairly uneducated – since I spend more time looking at Insta comics than doing my Art History reading) opinion. A true absurdist (and the creator of this post’s cover pic) she doesn’t shy away from bizarre, imaginative creations in the realms of fiction, humour, and, often, horror. Though a lot of her work is simply strange, when she aims to express an emotion I think she hits the nail on the head, every time. Her tone is often darker and more cynical than a lot of the cuter comics I’ve mentioned, above, but when you’re in the mood for some beautifully (and weirdly) expressed existential angst, frustration, or downright disillusionment, her sarcastic, surrealist, wit is ideal.
If you’re in the mood for being cheered up by some cute-come-weird plays on well-known jokes and sayings, look no further than Jason Adam Katzenstein. From the silly to the existential, his animals, humans, and famous characters are re-contextualised in hilarious situations to bring a new, always humorous, meaning, and his cultural references are consistently on-point.
Perhaps another account I’ll need an entire separate post for (and a T-shirt of, but they always sell out too fast!), I’m absolutely in love with Bjenny Montero. Not only is it WHOLESOME with a capital everything – sometimes you’re waiting for a grumpy punchline and it never drops, the characters are just positive and snuggly and happy – but it balances this out with some rude, swearing, adult, or genuinely heartbreaking posts, too. I don’t know if it’s the huge, doughy eyes of the anthropomorphised animals, or the poignant phrases that float around them, but Bjenny Montero really seems to get some of the saddest feelings in life; loneliness, loss, and sometimes just having to carry on. Sometimes profound and oftentimes quite innocent (check out the ‘Am I holding my elbow too high?’ posts), this account never fails to deliver content when you need something to which you can relate. Like good music, this is an account that soothes.
Aaaaandddd we’re back to some good ol’ black-and-white absurdity. In my opinion: the superior J-LO, this account never fails to make me laugh with its consistent strangeness and dark but (worryingly?) relatable humour. I’ve appropriated his pics for my own re-definitions various times, because I think he really excels in recognising a painful reality with just the right punch of comedy to lighten the load.