Looking at the sad side of things

Looking at the sad side of things

Comics aren’t meant to only make you laugh, according to Rob Denbleyker, author of Cyanide and Happiness (C&H), a web comic book series which is essentially ‘depressing’.

C&H began as a small series of comics drawn by Kris Wilson at the age of 16. C&H Show is a comedy animated web series based on their web comic C&H. Both run parallel on the website run by Denbleyker and partner, Dave McElfatrick .

“Back in 2001, internet was still a place for nerds and introverts, and countless other people would sit at home making Flash cartoons (cartoons made on popular softwares like Macromedia Flash and now, Adobe) post them on sites like Newgrounds.com. Mine usually involved stick figures dying in ridiculous ways, because that was funny to me,” says Denbleyke.

He says that he and McElfatrick were creating stick figure cartoons on their website explosm.net, when Kris Wilson began posting on their forums a lot.

“In late 2004, he posted a collection of comics he’d been working on, and we really enjoyed them. Shortly thereafter I was talking to Kris on MSN Messenger, and we came up with the plan of turning it into a daily thing. Dave and Matt joined in on the idea right away,” says Denbleyker.

So C&H came to be Denbleyker, McElfatrick and Wilson’s idea. In the series, stick figures die, try to kill the other or ‘touch’ the other in inappropriate places, these ones are rather absurd, with no beginning, middle or end. But certain topics, of child abuse, parenting, war soldiers are so simply done as if the author just visualised a horrifying incident and doodled it on the web.

But is such humour and art for everybody? Denbleyker explains that ‘dark humour’ has always appealed to him.

“I think dark humour, surrealism are universally appreciated, actually. Dirty or shocking jokes have been around forever. Now that we have the internet, which is mostly free of editors and censorship, there’s a mechanism for creators with a dark sense of humour to find an audience with a dark sense of humour,” says Denbleyker.

The trio have a ‘Depressing Comic Week’ once a year as a chance to create upsetting or moving comics instead of funny ones.

Denbleyker tells Metrolife, “It’s a very different process, we mostly do it for ourselves. It’s almost a challenge to see how miserable we can get.”

C&H is a stick figure series, rather simplistic but with deep meanings at times. Denbleyker explains the art and its significance saying that the simplicity appealed to him. A funny facial expression on a stick figure gives one more bang for your buck than on a fully drawn character, because of how cute and simple they are.

He jokingly adds, “Also to be completely honest: They’re easier to draw and animate. I don’t think we’d be able to produce our animations if they were anything other than stick figures. The relative quickness (relative because it’s still a hugely complex process) of animating them really helps us create as much as we do.”

They update daily on the comics, weekly on the animations. It’s one comic, ranging from one panel to six or more. “C&H was our first foray into comics, and it was mostly unplanned. We treated it like a hobby, just uploading comics that made us laugh. Right now we’re moving into animation with some new concepts,” Denbleyker says.

He is the special guest at this year’s Comic Con along with actor Kristian Nairn from HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones and Ty Templeton, Eisner Award nominated, comic book artist and writer. Delhi Comic Con 2015 is taking place at NSIC Grounds, Okhla from December 4 to 6.

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