Multicolored drawings in little squares. Flash them quickly together and you have cartoons. Put real people in them (and billions of dollars’ worth of CGI), and you have the most successful movie franchise in history. Comics are so much more than Garfield snarking John on Sunday morning. Peanuts is my earliest memory of the under-appreciated art form.
When somebody says the word “comics,” my mind jumps to mail day at summer camp, up to the gills in homesickness. Only worsened by my mom's handwritten label on a care package filled with the Astonishing X-Men, Spiderman, Batman and maybe a Speed Racer, because mom knew I liked to be just a touch different from your run-of-the-mill nerd.
For National Comic Book Day, I am not going to talk about any of those (see above: most successful movie franchises in history), but my most recent love-affair, the Instagram comic. One author/illustrator who brightens my day and makes me breathe heavily through my nose, Nathan Pyle.
Most recently, Nathan Pyle is the writer and illustrator of the Strange Planet series (and upcoming book with the same title). He takes everyday earthling things and casts some adorable blue aliens in our shoes to show us the little absurdities of everyday life. I don’t know about you, but I love to poke fun at myself, so why not take that a step further – making sharp quips at the expense of the entire human race. He also taught me that teeth are closer to stones than bones:
The true beauty of this comic is its unification. Everyone can relate to these. Nathan Pyle creates a space of positivity and utter hilarity; the result is a feeling of solidarity with your fellow humans. Established through how truly ridiculous we are as a species. Nathan does not just take a step back to examine our behavior, not even a bird’s eye view – Nathan’s commentary comes from another planet. In his creation of this strange world he helps us celebrate strangeness. Being weird is awesome, we are all weird; therefore, we are all awesome. Awesome despite our absurd purchasing choices:
2. Advice on Life Outside of the Square
Nathan Pyle started linking these little absurdities before he created the Strange Planet world. Part of the reason he was hired by BuzzFeed. I first discovered him in a fit of frustration as a New York City tourist. His book NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette gave me hope that I was not doomed to ascend to heaven looking at my body under a yellow taxi cab. That, in fact, there were faint glimpses of humanity that dwell in that firefight of a cultural capital. It also taught me to leave my politeness in the south and get straight to the point when asking for directions.
3. Positive Space
Nathan’s comics are my favorite on Instagram. In the angry barrage that is social media, it is nice to find someone who cares enough to create a positive space and share delight in quirkiness, as well as give a few tips for those of us struggling to hail a cab instead of dying underneath one. A few of my other favorite Instagram comic artists are: Lunarbaboon, The Awkward Yeti, Poorly Drawn Lines, War and Peas and Hannah Hillam:
All of these artists show us that being weird is ok, being sad is ok, and feeling different is actually exceptional and most of all, human. This is the common theme throughout all comics no matter the subgenre, from superhero to fat marinara-loving cats, comic books take the strange, the unique, the special, and shows us how extraordinary it is to be human. Comic books teach us to revel in our differences. We are all different and yet…that’s what links us and makes us, unmistakably, human.
Whether you’re a die-hard superhero fan or enjoy taking in small bursts of humor in your social media feed, there’s a comic out there for everyone.
Comment below and tell us how you are celebrating National Comic Book Day!
Eric is a highfalutin book nerd and indie music fan who rarely reads any book that came out in the last two decades or goes to a concert with more than a dozen people in the audience. He is also the man behind the Page Chaser Instagram and is desperately seeking affirmation for his facial hair choices.
Page Chaser is operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. (HCCP), a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishing, Inc. HarperCollins is the publisher of Strange Planet and NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette.