“TV shows like Cosmos prove that there’s an audience that wants to be educated while being entertained, and Howtoons: (Re)ignition is one of the few comics that does exactly that. There are plenty of reasons for adults to check out the series, but this is a comic that is going to benefit kids the most. Issues should be stocked in schools, summer camps, and park districts, and reading and constructing Howtoons is the perfect activity for parents and children to engage in together. This is the kind of inventive title of the industry could use more of, brilliantly using the comic-book medium to inspire creation off the page.”—
The bleak male rage is problematic. Roughly 90% of violence in the world is perpetrated by men. We also start most wars.
The bleak male rage is the “black thing” war veterans with PTSD talk about. To quote Alan Moore’s “25,000 Years of Erotic Freedom,” sexually open and progressive cultures such as ancient Greece have given the West almost all of its civilizing aspects, whereas sexually repressive cultures such as late Rome have given us the Dark Ages. We live in a world where we are taught to be afraid of sexuality but we accept hate and violence as normal parts of our daily lives. We can show a head torn off in a comic without a problem but a woman’s nipple gets people upset. It’s time to change that narrative.
In order to understand what is happening I posit that the root factor of violence is often shame. The church or the government (what’s the difference, really?) tell us what we can do and can not do with our bodies, which parts we can show and which parts we can not — and unless we’re harming other people, there is never any need for that. What then does such repression do? What is the aim?
I posit that the aim is to create soldiers. All the unspent energy has to go somewhere. Sex dissolves barriers. War creates them. As long as we stay unaware of our conditioning, we might be processed by the machine.
How to get out of it?
Exploration and dissection are perhaps always the first moves. Identify the systems and then act.
"As for the why of it, “ZERO” is certainly about war and how it thrives on (at least) two things: unprocessed loss and lack of the feminine. The lack of the feminine comes to its horrifying, troubling head with #9, but it’s present throughout: in the cast, in the absence of genuine nurturing, in emotions that are avoided or repressed, in creativity and sexuality redirected into violence and war, into the black war impulse, the “black thing,” as soldiers with PTSD often call it. Unprocessed loss is there from issue one, as well. If I look back at myself in early 2013, writing the first issues of “ZERO”, I knew I wanted to write it in order to dissect, understand and mutate precisely that bleak, dark thing that came hand in hand with anger and violent impulses. I’ve been in fights and I do believe in the beauty of a consensual fight, which is a way of play, but I do not believe in fight that is rooted in wanting to commit violence. And sometimes I saw an emotion or a thought pass through me and I went — what the fuck is this doing inside me? I need to investigate it. Where is this rooted? Why would a child ever smash ants? Why would a man ever get into a fight when there’s a chance to avoid hurting another person, or himself, or both? I discovered a lot of this bleak dark thing had to do with loss in my family. During writing Zero I had discovered, by asking questions and by being kind, and also by applying some psychomagic principles before I even knew how exactly psychomagic worked but I did it regardless because it’s essentially a shamanic tradition and I came to realize that I am a shaman. How could I not be? It’s part of what I do every day. I can enter trance states, I can help myself heal, I can help other people heal. Sometimes I can see spirits. Are they ghosts of other people or other life forms, or are they Jungian externalizations of my psyche? Shit, why not both? Anyway, loss: I discovered my grandfather on my mom’s side lost his father in Latvia during the Second World War. Then, before he was eleven or so, he lost a girl he loved — she was an Ukrainian prisoner of war who became a part of his family, shot to death by the Russians as they were liberating and “liberating” Czechoslovakia. My grandmother on my mom’s side spent days underneath the ruins of their house when she was just four years old or so, and likely saw multiple atrocities. My grandmother on my father’s side saw her father die of a heart attack on the Christmas day when she was about eight — he died in her arms as she stuffed his mouth with adrenaline pills the doctor left behind after his first episode. My grandfather on my dad’s side lost his father early as well. Thus I realized my family is riddled with unprocessed post-traumatic stress syndrome. Thus continued my way towards healing myself. And through that, perhaps, towards healing my family as well, and maybe helping others, too."