Analyzing Devil and the Monk
Anyway, its 4:30 in the morning and I ought to be doing other stuff, like sleeping.
So I thought I'd try to analyze "The Devil and the Monk".
Originally, I was writing "The Devil and The Monk" as part of God(tm). The guy in line, right before or right after was supposed to be a character from God(tm) somewhere in the middle of the story. Already, I was thinking non-linearly for God(tm), I wanted it to have all these tangents like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That sort of structure of storytelling feels like the Internet being forced to be linear and traditional.
When I write long stories, I'll work on little sections, the ones that pop into my head, key scenes, I would sketch/write them out and then work around them.
My intention of this story was to explain how reincarnation can exist in a Christian Cosmological structure, but in a funny way. When I finished my first draft of "The Devil and The Monk", I thought I had something here. I was trying to get the rust off my joints and just dived into the comic.
Page 01 & 02 - (mind you, two pages on this site create 1 page of print. I didn't like how the comic book aspect ratio required you to scroll, so I cut it in half.) So, we're at the Gates of Heaven. I wanted it to feel light. I thought a lever would be very cartoonish, plus I threw in Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln is one of those character who you can't fuck up drawing. If you were to put a top hat, suit and beard on a Chinese guy; you would know that that's supposed to be Abe Lincoln.
Page 03 & 04 - Introduction of Hell. I'll have to admit, I appropriated the Monk falling into Hell from a page in Frank Miller's Sin City (that book is why I wanted to do comics). The Devils, I wanted them to be light as well. As if they have a routine. Hell is normal for them. Hell is just as boring and exciting to them as where you live.
When I was originally designing Alavaka (yes, he's unnamed here. yes, there will be a sequel, and that's the name he will be called and that's how I think of him lately)
I was going for a classic devil look: red with horns. But I didn't want him to be the Greek god Pan. So I played around with the horns and I drew him with the horns going through his eyes. Its as if he was constantly suffering and blind: ignorant to God. And that idea of horns being more like an injury really paid off. So I designed all the other Devils with the horn-as-injury ideas.
Page 05 & 06 - The Monk breaks the routines of Hell. I wanted the reader to feel a bit of stoicism here, an oasis in Hell. As if they're looking at a statue of the Buddha. Someone on Stumbleupon criticized me for making this character a Mary Sue, a character that was much too perfect. But the Monk isn't a character to me. I didn't give him a name or history or anything. You don't even know what kind of Buddhist he is. (Okay, by the cut of his robe, he's Thai. But I'm not saying anything about Thai Buddhists, I just think their robes are the most stylish of any Buddhist monk.) To me, he's just an ideal personified.
--Back to Hell: Again, making Hell feel normal and mundane. I also used racial slurs. I'm not saying anything bad about Asians (because I'm one), I just thought this is how Devils would speak. I mean, the White Devil is racist, why not the red ones?
Page 07 & 08 - Man, I was lazy with the backgrounds. Anyway, a reader who was raised Hindu was trying to figure out what the monk was saying in Sanskrit (or Hindi-- not sure) when he said "d'oh" he figured it out and nearly fell off his chair. Anyway, here I start to establish rhythm: Torture. Ohm. Torture. Ohm.
Page 09 & 10 - I wanted the torture to be light, cartoony and childish. Warner Bros. cartoons. Milton Bradley games. Oh, and I know I misspelled "butterflies". I kept the typo because there's something funny and childish about "butterlies"
Page 11 & 12 - Page 11 is either everything I abhor about media at that time or something Christian, since this was part of God(tm). Its how Hell would be for me. Here are the shows:
1. Home Shopping Network
2. Game Shows. As a friend of mine told me, its the death of the American dream.
3. That guy from the Westboro Baptist Church. The "God Hates Fags" guy. I'm sure somebody touched him once.
4&5. Tim and Eric from Adult Swim. I really hate this show and an old roommate really loved it. This show made me nauseous. It was trying to be funny by being awful. I know there's plenty of fans out there. Now think about how you feel about Twilight and Twilight fans. This is exactly how I feel about you.
6. A Christian puppet show. Okay, a concept as crazy and mind blowing as God embodied as a human being and then suffering as a human sacrifice so that we may join God should have nothing to do with hand puppets. This is what happens when you veer away from a Liturgical and Apostolic tradition.
7. TMZ- I don't care about what celebrities are doing. Its as if they are a sort of god. Its as if the death of a young celebrity is a myth that can be analyzed by Joseph Campbell or this or that actress fits a Jungian archetype. The people who I consider celebrities make or say something powerful. Pretty faces are just pretty faces (although, a pretty face with brains, now that's awesome)
8. Jerry Springer
9. I forgot which televangelist this was, but he's obviously a foney.
10. Chris Crocker. I once went to a gallery opening he was also attending. I did not make eye contact. I don't hate on him because he's flaming. Flaming Gay Men can be really funny people with really raunchy senses of humor. I hate him because he's an annoying attention whore and he got famous for being awful.
11. The Loonatics. This was Warner Bros. relaunch of the Looney Toons. They have no idea what they're doing.
12. Jerry Fallwell (I know I spelled it wrong)
13. Flavor of Love. I hate reality shows. And I used to like Public Enemy. No, I haven't seen this show. Again, its something people watch because its awful.
14. I think this is someone attacking a midget on Jerry Springer.
15. Some Christian show
16. A Japanese tv show. That's a guy in drag.
Page 13 & 14 - This is where Alavaka's character design paid off. He's a fallen angel with swords stuck in his eyes. He's mutated and twisted and in pain. Maybe he forgot Heaven. You could sort of feel Alavaka's anger. His frustration, his regret, his ignorance. At this point he's no longer a two dimensional character. He has some complexity. In one single panel, he has a horrible past.
Page 15 & 16 - I wanted to get back into the light-hearted mood. So I drew a crappy blueprint like in a Roadrunner cartoon.
Page 17 & 18 - This was the entire reason why this comic exists. This simple scene. A monk falling into a pregnant girl. She's about 3 months pregnant, when a fetus starts to kick. And I did base her mom off of Hilary Clinton. I didn't intend to say anything political. Its just that I liked how she looked and dressed.
Page 19 & 20 - I felt sad when I drew and wrote this part. I think after I established that Alavaka was a 3 dimensional character, his emotions came out better.He had a sense of loss and emptiness. He was always empty, and he thought torturing souls would fill that. But its as if he's more aware of that emptiness by being around this monk.
Suburbia is a type of Hell.
Page 21 & 22 - When I wrote this part, it just made sense. It just seemed natural. I felt something, a satisfaction, the same sort of feeling when I finished "Speak No Evil" I originally intended it to end at page 18, but there was something about that Devil that needed to be resolved.
From some of the comments and emails I've gotten about this comic, its as if I wrote a Sutra or something. I'm not Buddhist. I might know more about Buddhism than the average American, and I've tried some Buddhist meditation. But I'm Gnostic Christian and that has a sort of "poetry" that's more closer to Buddhism than it was with American Christianity.