Humor is an extremely multi-faceted medium. Many things can make us laugh: silly word plays, falling people, or something completely random. On the darker side of humor are things which shouldn't make us laugh, but they consistently do, and sometimes we laugh at them even harder than we can admit. David Contra is one of those artists who delve into the dark arts of dark humor and make comics that are completely committed to the shtick.
Here's what the artist had to say about his comic project: “Well, I haven't been doing it long, maybe 6 weeks since I decided to give this a proper go. I came back from a surf trip in Western Oz and then Sydney went into lockdown. So I needed a project. I have two friends who have been hassling me for a while to do something like this, so since I had all this lockdown time, I thought, 'might as well.' Oh, and you might see that I started with multi-panels, like up to 10 sliding panels, but that was so laborious. Then I decided to do the 4-panel because I like how it makes you trim all the fat and condense things.”
More info: Instagram
Dave told more to Fashion Life about his background and his influences: "I have lived in several countries around the world, and had a great childhood. I used to catch snakes and boogie board. As a kid I loved drawing, but then I gave it up completely when I was a teenager. Later I became interested in film. I went to film school, and then worked in video production for a number of years, which I hated. But I did get to travel around China filming a cooking show, which was cool. One thing I really notice now, when drawing comics, is that I think about “camera shots” for the panels, as if the comic is a short film. I feel like having a background in film/video is a big help. Film language translates really well to comics."
The artist also had theories for his peculiar sense of humor: "I’ve been told my sense of humor is very dark / dry. This definitely comes from a generally pessimistic world view. I think humans have completely screwed up our chance at creating a paradise, and the mess we’ve made is kind of hilarious. Lots of good comedy material, everywhere you look."He also told about his key influences in terms of comics. "Well, as a kid, my favorite comics were Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and Michael Leunig (Australian cartoonist with very dark sense of humor). Now, I would say my favorite and biggest influence for sure has been Rory Blank @roryblank on Instagram. The guy is twisted, I love his work. It really encouraged me to give it a go myself."
Just like any other comic artist, Dave has his own favorite parts and struggles in the comic-making process.
"This will sound nerdy, but my favorite part is assembling all the pieces together in Photoshop to create the finished product—it’s really satisfying and I always make a cup of coffee and put on some insane techno, drum and bass, or Indian flute music when I'm doing this.
The hardest part is definitely the drawing. Even though I have a very simple cartoon style, people don’t realize how much work it can be. I’m not trained in drawing so I get frustrated often. Drawing circles drives me insane. Whether it's a car tire or an eyeball, sometimes I will draw it over and over and still it doesn’t look right. Once I punched my iPad because I couldn’t draw a circle properly."
Dave was also very kind in sharing his wisdom for those who might want to try making comics themselves. "Well, I’m no expert, but I would say the number one thing is don’t try and change your humor to fit what you think will be popular. Do what comes natural. If you’re a weirdo like me, then do weird stuff. Also, the initial stage is really difficult, when you are trying to work out your style / format / methods for writing etc. It all feels like dragging a dead pig through thick mud. Well, push through. It takes some time, but soon you will have all your methods and systems down, and you will be creating with much more ease. Then the dead pig wakes up and grows wings and you can fly him like a kite - much easier. But the dead-pig phase is definitely very difficult to push through."
Dave told us about how he's doing at the moment, and shared both the plans about the comic's and his own future. "I’m doing pretty good! Sydney is in lockdown and it's getting annoying, but that was the main reason I started this comic project so I am definitely seeing the silver lining. For comics? I dunno, it’s still very early days, it’s hard work but I will keep going as long as I can. At the moment I am doing it purely for the fun of it. Of course, I would love to do it as my day job, but that’s just a dream at this stage.And the future-future plans? Well, as soon as its available, I’d like to be plugged into a big simulation, if we aren’t already in one. I think my vibe would be a planet of tree-dwelling humanoid creatures. A bit like the movie Avatar. I remember thinking the movie was crap, but I would love to live in that world."