Therapy … From an Angry Comic Book?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because it all could have come true.
By Seth Ferranti
2007 was a bad year for Riana Møller. The artist from Denmark was unlawfully mass-arrested, alongside 450 others, in a demonstration. The newspaper she worked for went bankrupt, she couldn’t get any art gigs, and she just so happened to take out a big loan to buy an apartment, right before the financial crisis of 2008 went down. All of this enabled dark thoughts she’d harbored since her school days to creep back into her mind, sowing chaos. It was a turbulent time for the video game artist that resulted in the pulsating, disturbing and majestically drawn graphic novel Do It.
“I wanted to make a comic that ‘the young angry bitch me’ would have taken down from the shelf and not instantly found preachy,” Møller tells OZY, explaining how she wanted a reader like that to “feel understood, not ridiculed” in a comic that appealed to younger readers, but also reached out to older audiences, and did not censor the gore and the way the characters converse.
Do It, which was published in May, was initially conceived in Møller’s late teens/early 20s as a comic manifesto, an explanation behind the violent acts she was sure she’d commit if presented with the opportunity. Did I mention Møller’s knife collection? Knives, hatchets and even silly stuff like meat hooks. It all made her feel like an anti-hero, battling consumer slavery, capitalism and all the bullies of the world.
An eclectic mishmash of ideas that bubble frantically, bombarding the reader with a pseudo-terror …
Weapons play a prominent if murderous role in her debut graphic novel that questions gun rights, bullying, education, authority, animal cruelty and mass shootings. An eclectic mishmash of ideas that bubble frantically, bombarding the reader with a pseudo-terror that emphasizes everything that Møller felt could’ve come true on some level. This gloom-ridden attitude permeates the whole graphic novel, slowly sneaking up on readers and punching them in the face. Leaving blood dripping sporadically from their nose as their face swells from the impact.
But refusing to dwell on brooding negativity, the story also encompasses hope. Hope that Møller clung to as she swayed dangerously close to her self-made chasm of despair. It’s a Matrix-like duality that the protagonist in Do It echoes. A comic alter ego or avatar recounting an autobiographical tale with a very real and lifelike sensibility.
It took many years for Møller to fully rid herself of that “vengeful bitch” inside her — the one that goes ballistic in Do It’s graphic fantasy murder scenes. But she has regained balance in life by conquering the demons she explores in Do It, giving herself a second chance, just like the character in her comic.
Her art style is “a big callback to how I used to draw back in 2007,” Møller admits. “But the effects and mood are more in line with recent work.” A harrowing tale on the edge of insanity that profiles the artist’s own struggles for the world to witness. Do It — as visually pleasing as it is disturbing, metamorphosing elements of her personal story into a fictional narrative — proves no matter how bad it gets, life is still worth living.
- Seth FerrantiContact Seth Ferranti