Ben Quinlan writes:
Writing, and writing comics in particular, is very therapeutic. You can get across some ideas, fears, and dreams, just by living vicariously through your characters.
Having said that, it’s often very easy to see yourself in fictional characters so maybe this is just something that happens when you see through someone else’s eyes. I can look at Batman and see my own paranoia, pain and desire for justice, but also a longing for family and need to be around people. I can look at the Flash and wish to have his hopefulness and optimism, while seeing in myself the same tendency to take too much on. Maybe I’m just grasping at straws and trying too hard to relate to made-up people, but isn’t that a major part of why we read/watch fiction? Not only to escape reality but to inject ourselves into another world and see idealised versions of ourselves.
My point is that in writing comics, we are given an opportunity explore situations and options that we couldn’t in real life.
In my current project, Black and Blue (live on Kickstarter now), one of the main characters, Mattaya, is conscripted into the underwater army, the Aquamarines. She doesn’t support their goals or methods, but the man who’s looked after her for her whole life is a Sergeant in the army and is forcing her to join.
Who among us hasn’t felt trapped at some point in their life? Has felt that there’s no way out, and no escape from something they’re dreading, or can’t cope with? Being able to write a character into a situation like this and explore different options for her to get through it (I won’t tell you how she does, get the book right here!) can really help with sorting out your own life and seeing things more clearly.
Of course, you have to use some creative licence when applying lessons from comic books — my planet hasn’t been flooded in an attempt to fend off attacking aliens — but in the same way that I can see relate to Batman longing to be the father that he never had, I, and I hope others, can relate to Mattaya making the best of her situation.
Ben Quinlan is a comic artist and writer from Sydney, Australia, and Black and Blue is live on Kickstarter here.