“You Mustn’t Be Afraid”
By Luke Pearson
NoBrow 7: Brave New World
Four pages about the fear and acceptance of death. A man is given an opportunity to tidy up his mess–a lifetime’s worth of baggage and debris. Upon squaring away his junk, he finds that he is ready to embrace his end. It’s not a serene acceptance. The man runs full-tilt, bracing himself, eyes shut, into his end.
It’s not that we die, it’s how we go.
Luke Pearson’s comics are too good to be true. But true they are. I have enjoyed his work but also avoided it because I’ve been let down by exciting cartoonists so many times. Pearson hasn’t let me down yet. It’s about time that I started giving his work the respect that it has earned.
Pearson embodies a kind of cartoonist who I once sought out very eagerly. Often I found my hopes deflated and I eventually surrendered. The cartoonist who can tell coherent stories using metaphor and symbolism without being cheap or corny. When I got into artcomics, gritty naturalism was the order of the day. I found those cartoonists interesting in their own right but my heart lifted when I read Jaime Hernandez’ “Flies on the Ceiling” and Gilbert Hernandez’ “Fear of Comics.” My grin couldn’t have been wider than when Gabrielle Bell’s eye-level, deadpan diaries strolled casually off of the curve of the earth in stories like “My Affliction.” There is something about this stuff that gets directly to my heart. I like this stuff so much that it takes a great deal of storytelling power to pierce through my armor. I’ve been let down so many times.
Many cartoonists and writers mistake effect for cause. If a story has a dreamlike sensation, many writers believe that they must essentially spew it from the top of their heads. Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes planning and deliberate construction to make a story comprised of symbols and metaphors come together and sing. It takes a delicate touch. Not undercooked and not overwrought. Not too obscure but not right on-the-nose. A sense of playfulness while adhering to the thematic drive and destination. Luke Pearson knows how to do these things. I vouch for his comics.