58 – Tom Fischbach’s TwoKinds
Now it should be noted that I’m not an avid reader or fan of (web)comics, or anything of that nature. It’s not that I detest them – on the contrary, I love the idea of re-discovering the nostalgic (I just don’t always have the time). Anything that gets us back in touch with the childish inner geek (especially the older we get) is a good idea, because it reminds us that leisure and visual stimulus is not limited to an age range, it takes us back to a state of mind we once enjoyed.
Perhaps I’m just trying to justify a guilty pleasure, but who cares – we all have them! I have a lot of nerdy indulgences, but I was never able to follow comic franchises (the closest I got was being a Pokémon fan when I was a chubby little child)… Until recently.
I made a strange exception, and by chance stumbled upon the marvellous works of Tom Fischbach, the American-Korean Manga artist who has been crafting his fictional ‘TwoKinds’ universe since 2003. Now I don’t know much about Manga and its numerous sub-categories, I know even less about ‘anthropomorphic art’ (other than it’s base principle is to personify inanimate objects and animals) so I couldn’t really tell you much about the genre’s context. I couldn’t even tell you what is ‘in’ right now for this sequestered culture, for all I know ‘TwoKinds’ could be the Antichrist of ‘anthro’ art in the eyes of the community.
But somehow I doubt it. His fan-base is extensive and committed (simply look at his recent kick-starter campaign success – he asked for $25,000 in donations and got nearly £200,000!) and his work is inexplicably captivating. I can’t put my finger on it, I don’t know why I am so drawn to his comics; yes the visual quality is very high, but on the inside it’s nothing new…
Perhaps he just hit the right combination of story and feel. Whatever it is it’s working, because clearly I’m not the only one who is totally immersed in the webcomic.
So what is ‘TwoKinds’ all about? Well at the heart of the story is a small band of questing protagonists, built around that is a backdrop of racial/political divisions, conspiracy and folklore that help shape each character’s individual persona, as well as their varying relationships and personal goals. You’ve got your standard doses of romance, conflict and character development, but somewhere within all this there is the ‘loveable factor’, that thing that makes me (and many others) go back again and again. This is where it comes down to subjectivity, and what you take and enjoy from this particular franchise.
According to Tom (the creator), racial segregation is a central theme he has tried to implement. Personal experience with racism has been conveyed in his work, and yes – it’s definitely present. Then there is the chance to connect with the characters themselves – not for what they are, but for how they feel. Of course, you could just enjoy the comic for its crisp look, and at-times comical situations.
The only problem with this comic (in my eyes) is that it does feel like a really guilty pleasure. Perhaps it is simply down to it being a comic (and therefore new territory for me) or perhaps it is down to the ‘anthro’ genre it is associated with. The whole humanised animal fascination is not a new thing, but naturally it’s got some connotations of taboo.
I mean, for a start the merging of species (which is a pillar of anthropomorphism) is unnatural; it’s an ambiguous concept that sits in the grey area of one’s conscience. People don’t know how to react to things that are too easily labelled as perverse, and things end up being misjudged more often than we’d like.
I admit that there is bound to be a closet community of ‘anthros’ or the awkwardly named ‘furries’ that enjoy the art a little too much (if you know what I mean) similarly to the way anything can get a fetish following. What can I say, people have issues. So long as I can enjoy this web-comic without having it’s innocence forever soiled I will keep reading, in the meantime everyone else can keep their misconceptions and abject fantasies to themselves.
Say what you want, I’ve been hooked on this web-comic for the past few years and I can’t see that changing any time soon. It’s about time it got a mention in the cabinet…