My first evening in Toronto I went to see the Mountain Goats at the Opera Hall (There will be more on the Mountain Goats later! Likely too much!) After the show I was waiting around to see if John Darnielle would come out so I could fist-bump him or something. One of the other people waiting around was Joey Comeau who, with Emily Horne, is responsible for the darkly funny webcomic A Softer World. Here is a sample of what they do.
(click to see the full-size version)
I’ve been following A Softer World for so long, it feels like daily medicine. If you’re someone who cringes at inspirational posters/idioms or hallmark cards, their brand of acidic humour will come as a sweet antidote.
I would have probably drifted away from it, though if the comics stayed in one cynical tone though. There are moments of complex emotion; those weird un-talked about dynamics of relationships are summed up so succinctly, at times its almost a shock to read them. And one day’s comic could be strangely life-affirming, the next almost heartbreaking.
Part of A Softer World’s magic are the photographs that stand in as the visual component. Often, but not always, there are people in them but they are usually out-of-focus, grainy or oddly cropped. It makes me think of the kind of incomplete, dreamy images that come up in your mind when you’re trying to remember what happened at the party last night where you had too many whiskey sours and blacked out. The images and the text are kept at a distance which prevents them from overstating the meaning of the comic. Its a tricky thing to do well, and somehow over the years, they’ve mastered it.
I was probably a bit of an annoying fanboy when I talked to Joey in Toronto, but I remember saying that as a writer, his comic has been a great inspiration to me; I meant that. I think a lot of writers could learn from how much can be said with an ordinary sentence, simply by twisting its end or turning it on its head.
Anyway, congratulations Joey and Emily on an awesome comic and the other awesome projects you do!