lundi 30 mars 2015

Pretty Boys Are Fools For Ignoring Him

Some time ago, my good friend Bernard Joubert (comics journalist, translator and France's top specialist of censorship in comics) told me he was only interested in autobiographical comics if he knew the person doing them. When he did, reading autobiographical material would be like getting a letter from that person telling about the latest news and events in his/her life. On the other hand, if the author was a complete stranger, there wasn't that connection of knowing who the real person doing those comics was and for Bernard that made it yet another one of those comics where boring everyday people tell you about their boring everyday lives.

I must say that I'm quite different from Bernard in that I love any sort of autobiographical material, be they comics, diaries, videos, photographs. But as it happens, I know Sina Sparrow personally (and no, his real name isn't "sparrow"), creator of the zines Art Fag (two issues), Pretty Boys Ignore Me (two issues) and The Mysterious Element of Beauty.

Art Fag is a collection of autobiographical one-page strips in black and white (some can be seen in colour on Sina's website).

Pretty Boys Ignore Me and The Mysterious Element of Beauty are collections of drawings, usually made at clubs or on public transport, each with a very short text, usually one sentence. Sina seems to try and imagine some of the back story in those strangers' lives and it has a kind of poetic quality.

The thing is, I've known Sina for years, but I feel anybody who's been reading his comics would also know something of his life that would make him more than a stranger. Sina has been involved in making zines for quite a while (one, Boy Crazy Boy, gave its name to his website and imprint), and his comics have always been either fantasy-based (with a lot of superheroes) or slice-of-life. But one also gets the feeling that the fantasies express preoccupations of everyday life while a recurring theme in the slice-of-life comics and images is the mixture of fascination and fear that happen when real beauty clashes with the fantasy beauty the artist yearns for. 

What unites all those pictures and comics is the thick line, which is used both for drawing and writing, and often for colouring when he uses crayons, and which is like a handwriting. In fact it is a handwriting used indifferently for words and pictures.

I haven't mentioned the queer element in theses zines, but really, it's just because it's everywhere, so much a part of Sina's life that it's not really appropriate to call it an "element". "The Mysterious Element of Queerness"? Like "The Mysterious Element of Beauty" it is both strikingly evident and difficult to pinpoint.

You can buy those zines ("Approved by the Comics Cock", it says on the covers) from Sina's big cartel online store which also carries postcards, tee-shirts and other silly and not-so-silly things. And you can see the images he makes on his website.

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