Over the last several months, I have had the pleasure of reading quite a few outstanding webcomics (and, yes, I’ve run across a few less than stellar ones, but I’m not going to point fingers), and today I wanted to share with you another one I really enjoy. Pictures For Sad Children is really an entertaining read even if it isn’t really an uplifting one. While the name evokes more melancholy than it perhaps truly has, there are times when it is bittersweet or has an almost morose sense of humor. John Campbell began Pictures For Sad Children back in 2007 with the first page, titled “Paul who is a ghost,” which really sets the stage for the tone of the comic.
While some pages are a more downtrodden and ghosty version of Dilbert, other pages can be best described as absurdist humor. Paul the ghost spends some time traveling only to decide to go back to his old job. Once there he discovers that he can’t have his old job back, but he can train the new temps, which is where he meets Gary. Gary is a bit naïve, but is almost like an audience surrogate for the comic. He’s the everyman just trying to get through the day and make the paycheck. On his first day on the job, this tangent happened:
Eventually Gary and his family become the main focus of the comic and Paul is phased out, but it maintains a similar tone throughout. I find that I really enjoy the pacing, both within the page itself and the overarcing story (even when it meanders or goes off in a complete tangent). The style isn’t overly artistic, but it wouldn’t really benefit from a more detailed artistic approach. There has only been one page that has featured colors beyond black, gray and white, and since we’re trying to keep the website PG-13 I’m not going to show it, no matter how much I want to… but you can check it out here!
This is a comic that I feel really speaks to me. It expresses the fear of isolation, of normalcy, of death, of not living life to the fullest but still not knowing quite how to feel alive. These are all feelings that everyone feels from time to time, but they aren’t usually the feelings we put on public display. You maybe can’t relate to Paul being dead and all or Maddy being allergic to the sun and wanting to wear a pillowcase, but the emotions are poignant and it’s almost impossible not to try and read all of the available pages in one sitting.
Pictures For Sad Children has its silly moments and its downer moments, but it never stops being interesting. I like that it deals with emotions in a slightly off kilter way and doesn’t apologize for it. Also I can appreciate any comic that references “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”. Uh, hello, pure genius! What are you waiting for, stop reading what I think and go read it for yourself. I promise you, you’ll thank me for this recommendation… and with that I will leave you smelling ether on a table.
All images belong to John Campbell and can be found at http://picturesforsadchildren.com.