Mon
Nov 15 2010 10:03am

Pictures For Sad Children: New Directions, Book Art

PIctures For Sad Children by John Campbell

Pictures For Sad Children is, to put it in simplest terms, a webcomic. It’s one of my favorites, actually: sparse, bleak and often unspeakably depressing, balanced by moments of obscure and strange humor. It began in 2007 and I would heartily recommending starting at the beginning, though there’s nothing to hinder your understanding if you start in the middle of with the newest entry.

The reason I’m posting about it now is that the artist/writer John Campbell recently did an art show and since then has been experimenting with new things for his comic. The past few entries have been what one could call “book art” instead of digital graphics. Instead of the typical webcomic pages, these are photos of blank books with the drawings in them, often playing with holes cut through the paper and images as physical concepts.

It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen a webcomic do in my life—challenge its digital medium to become physical, yet still remain a “webcomic.”

This is one of the book-art comics. This is another, with cut-outs and page flipping.

Pictures for Sad Children isn’t quite technically “speculative” (even though the beginning story arc is about a man named Paul who dies and the soul-wearying dreariness of his life after death as a ghost who has no pleasure in his death-life, loses his job, and is of no interest to anyone), and it’s not upbeat or necessarily easy to read, but it’s interesting. It’s different.

I love that there’s a world out there where I can click from Penny Arcade to this and they’re both available to me at a moment’s notice. Webcomics are such a diverse art.


Brit Mandelo is a multi-fandom geek with a special love for comics and queer literature. She can be found on Twitter and Livejournal.

1 comment
Alexander K.
1. Alexander K.
I've been reading Pictures for several years now, it's easily my favorite web comic. It just has such a wonderful sense of humor about its own bleakness.

For fans of Campbell's work here I recommend checking out his blog as well ( http://boohooboo.tumblr.com/ ). It contains a ton of sort of mini-comics which, although not as ambitious as Pictures, are still darn amusing.

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