Monday, 4 February 2013


Here is my contribution to Bear Pit Zine's 5th installment, "Expedition."  I was thrilled to be able to participate in such a great local (Bristol) project.  Each thematic anthology is printed in limited runs so be sure to get 'em while they're hot! Check out Bear Pit's tumblr here, and also on the Facebook.

This 5-page short represents my first foray into writing, as I've only ever worked in collaboration with the eminent Richard Worth.  I suppose it's appropriate, then, that I opted to go exclusively with pictures and no words.  I say appropriate, but it was really because I lacked the confidence.  Maybe it was a mistake.  I'll try next time and see. 

The Michael Jackson of exploration
Something I always had in the back of my mind while reflecting on the zine's theme was this particularly expedition-appropriate passage from The Worst Journey Ever. Antarctic explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard nails it:

"The desire for knowledge for its own sake is the one which really counts... Exploration is the physical expression of the Intellectual Passion. And I tell you, if you have the desire for knowledge and the power to give it physical expression, go out and explore.  Some will tell you that you are mad, and nearly all will say, 'What is the use ?' ... For we are a nation of shopkeepers, and no shopkeeper will look at research which does not promise him a financial return within a year. And so you will sledge nearly alone, but those with whom you sledge will not be shopkeepers: that is worth a good deal. If you march your Winter Journeys you will have your reward, so long as all you want is a penguin's egg." 

In a longer draft of the story I was going to cut back to the fat man falling asleep in his armchair, beard growing and stomach diminishing each time we return to him, until he is little more than slumbering bones.  Apsley might have called him a shopkeeper.  In this version, I closed with the words:  “A full man will sit at home and rub his belly, thinking himself content. But a hungry man, though his belly pangs, will rove -- and see the world.”  That ending had less context in the final draft, and I felt it was quite heavy-handed exposition besides.

The text that does appear in the last panel is taken from the ending of The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. It reads (translated, with the quoted text underlined): 
The James Dean of existentialism

 "I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."

I did The Hungry Fellow as a way of allagorizing my own experience of religious disillusionment, but it's also a more general parable about any process of discovery - of finding fulfillment in it, even when it wounds us.  Don't take my word for it though; could be about something else entirely.  Or nothing, for that matter.  Maybe you find it's a jumbled mess that makes no narrative sense, let alone a story with discernible meaning… but I hope you can enjoy something about it in spite of that, even if it's just the drawings.  And, heck, I think that's exactly what Camus was talking about anyway...

There's another 40+ pages of Bear Pit Zine #5 from some fantastic small press folks (12 of 'em)! 
You can ORDER ONE right here, right now from our Water Closet Emporium, or directly from the BPZ webpage.  You'll be glad you did.


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