I recently came across a comic that seemed to speak to something pretty true about society in a very interesting way. The comic is called “CORONARY” and the story is set in a world where plastic surgery has become quite the rage and it is free of charge to anyone who wants it. From the Coronary Kickstarter campaign page:
“Plastic surgery is free. London is gripped by madness, dominated by cosmetic surgeons, lifestyle coaches and pill-pushers. Within this insanity, a neurotic businessman reconsiders the course of his life when a freethinking outsider crashes into it. But she doesn't want him, or anyone.“
NM: Why did you decide to crowd-fund the project?
RB: Crowd-funding is the best way to get a decent audience for your project while still maintaining creative control of it. At fifty thousand words, this project is my baby, and I will not see it put in a sub-par daycare centre.
NM: How deep do you go in the story examining the concept of beauty & identity as manufactured ideas?
RB: As deep as it goes. A lot of characters within the comic either reject this premise, or lean so heavily on them it becomes cumbersome. Justin, for example, has become worn down by the upkeep of image itself, and is looking for something more nourishing. ''A fridge full of condiments but no food,'' as the great Tyler Durden would put it.
This premise raises some very intriguing questions. When our exterior identity is suddenly flexible, how does that impact our understanding of beauty and identity? What does it mean to be beautiful in a world where beauty is cheap?
We talked with writer Ryan Burke about the comic and how these ideas inspired Coronary.
NM: What does it mean to be beautiful in a world where beauty is cheap and unremarkable? The old adage says “Beauty is only skin deep” so then how does a person’s beauty manifest in a skin-deep culture?
RB: That's what I explore in the comic. With every peacock showing his feathers, the display loses its value. As things swing one way, then the inevitable counter movement will swing the pendulum back. Substance is making a comeback, and I feel it must.
NerdMost: Coronary starts with an interesting premise. Explain a little about how the idea was developed.
Ryan Burke: It initially started while I was just sat in the emptiness of a London tube station. I was thinking it'd be a great way to start a comic, just that expanse. And there's the tired adage of write what you know, so I did. From there is grew into a very different beast, as I drew on past experiences, where I felt that an image-central culture was growing up and over my head. I wanted to deflate that movement as best I could, so Coronary is my answer.
NM: What do you hope people will take away from your story once they’ve read it?
RB: I hope people will take away that it's ok to feel ugly, but know it's only the ugly attitudes outside that make us feel this way.
Coronary Episode One: The Dying is currently being funded with a Kickstarter here: http://kck.st/2jwJWbG
NM: Do you think you are reflecting our modern preoccupation with superficial expectations?
RB: I always think that if Art isn't shooting for the largest, nastiest target there is, then there isn't much point to it. And this is my target. We are all a victim to these expectations in one way or another. I feel we've all been made to act a little strange, whether we tan our skin, pierce it, bleach it, tattoo it, epilate it, etc. All for an image we feel we need. Although, my need for tattoos it is a serious high. Perhaps that can be the next Kickstarter...
NM: The word “Coronary” can refer to lots of different things. At first I think of a heart attack, arteries, or anything heart-related. Since the story is set in London, I also think of the shared root for the word “coronation” and what that might imply. What does “Coronary” mean to you?
RB: I chose Coronary as a connection with the theme of love. Everyone in the comic has lost something they love: purpose, family, humanity…these are all things that focus back in on love. Although the coronation/monarchy relationship is far too clever an idea for me to take credit for, but I will nonetheless. The front cover has a sly nod to that with the 'Dual Coronation Edition' in which both King and Queen share equal authority. Well spotted!
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