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Image Month: On Image Comics and Fire

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by Ales Kot

When it came to arts education, my parents were quite supportive. My mother taught me to read by the time I was three and my father (besides other, perhaps more-important-sounding acts) redrew a double-page spread from a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic for me when I was about five years old. See, I didn't want to destroy the comic but I wanted the spread on the wall. The redrawn image--a Cronenbergian nightmare composed of fangs, slime, bones and fly wings--proudly hung above my bed, scaring the shit out of me until we moved two years later.

Then came more books. Jules Verne, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Clive Barker. More comics, including some of the finest issues of Conan the Barbarian and Amazing Spider-Man ever known to the mankind. Art school afternoons by the time I was eight. Then reprints of 2000AD. Girls. Alejandro Jodorowsky. Porn. Buddhism. Serial killers. My parents' divorce. Andrei Tarkovsky. Alan Moore. Psychedelics. Huxley. Lilly. The Pixies. Dada. Speed. Girls. Guys. Wes Anderson. Preacher. Berlin techno. Poetry. Bowie. Ecstasy. Transmetropolitan. Abstract painting. Breakcore gigs. Women. I lived and breathed art and there was no need for classification – I just wanted something that moved me. Something that gave me a high similar to how I felt when my dad hung the redrawn Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles page on the wall, a high similar to how I felt when my mum told me “you can do anything, you can be anything you want” for the first time.

Good and bad were empty terms – I wanted experiences.

I remember grabbing Fire, one of the early Brian Michael Bendis creator-owned graphic novels, on an alcohol-cigarettes-and-lust-fueled trip through the London outskirts when I was sixteen. Fire was one of the first comics published by Image I ever read, and it changed my life for the better. The comic read great, but there was more to it – Fire was a DIY statement, looking like something I could make myself if I put my mind to it.

Fire is also the Promethean symbol for imagination. Go figure.

"It is intimate and it is universal. It lives in our heart. It lives in the sky. It rises from the depths of the substance and offers itself with the warmth of love. Or it can go back down into the substance and hide there, latent and pent-up, like hate and vengeance."

(Gaston Bachelard – Psychoanalysis of Fire)

My first comic book with Image Comics, Wild Children, will be coming out this July and I just realized that the symbol I blindly put on the front cover of Wild Children makes this essay way funnier and more enlightening than I expected it to be:

We breathe within the empty spaces between the well-defined panels of our lives. We live between the grids, elusive, indescribable in our completeness. Our imaginations define and tear up our lives, often simultaneously.

And then, for a brief moment, a spark appears – a light that unifies things seemingly out of our grasp, ideas we thought incompatible, experiences we never expected to relive from a different angle.

Good and bad are empty terms – I want experiences.

Image Comics gives me fire.

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