by Brittany Nader
Seth Troyer has adopted a do-it-yourself ethos in both his music and his artwork, taking the most bare-bones of creative elements and turning them into large-scale sensory experiences that prove traditional training or a clear-cut linear creative path isn’t always necessary.
Seth will release the physical copy of his graphic novel, “Goodnight You Are Wonderful!” on Saturday, May 25 at a special release event at Square Records.
Seth, who is also a musician performing in Boy Future Guitars and Valley Girls and is heavily involved in local venue Hive Mind, will give a live performance alongside local DIY musicians NosawwasoN and The Architect’s Wife.
Exploring the medium of hand-drawn comics was part of what Seth describes as a “punk-rock mentality.” He compares his exploration into the visual arts as similar to his musical endeavors — he was initially hesitant to explore it because of social norms and expectations.
“A lot of people are intimidated to make their own art,” Seth says. “The divide — people who didn’t go to art school verses people who did — deters people.”
Once Seth became immersed in influential artists like Keith Haring, Chris Ware and Liana Finck, who adopt a more minimalist, outsider approach to their art, the Akronite was inspired to put pen to paper — or, in his case, Sharpie to computer paper — and express himself using a new creative outlet.
“Art doesn’t have to be photo-realistic,” Seth says. “My influences create their own way of having a visual language. Sometimes it’s the opposite of consumer art.”
To Seth, comics were always a niche thing, and it took a while for him to develop the confidence to create his own.
“It’s the same with being in a band,” Seth says. “Both music and comics stuck into the idea of wanting to do it but rarely wanting to specifically find something to create. On the guitar, I’ll sit down when the idea strikes. When it strikes, it strikes. I’m usually thinking about five different things at once — it’s more fun to get lost in things.”
Seth began creating crudely drawn, short-form comics. He credits filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson as an influence on moving away from storytelling through shorts to creating more linear tales. In the filmmaker’s case, it became writing and directing feature-length films. In Seth’s, it was focusing on single pages that, when joined together and read left to right, create a more rounded, cohesive story.
“I usually come at things from the big picture — this started as drawing shorts instead of a linear graphic novel,” Seth says. “The change of format from shorts to longer graphic novels came because I focused on my strengths.”
The upcoming collection of comics is Seth’s third graphic novel. The book is put together in the unconventional format of loose-leaf pages tucked neatly into manila folders with hand-drawn covers.
The narrative is what he calls a “bedtime story,” with handwritten text interspersed with simple line drawings of characters of his own invention.
In the story, a non-human father figure tells his children a story before bed, per their demands — however, the tale he begins to tell is full of existential themes, nightmarish recallings and mysterious creatures, such as the “Rabbuck.”
“I had first heard of Rabbucks (a blend of horse and bunny) from a book of ‘speculative evolution,’ 1981,” the father says.
A hand-drawn cover of a book titled, “After Man,” by paleontologist and geologist Dougal Dixon is shown in a flashback.
Later, the storyteller ponders if he is in Dougal’s nightmare.
Seth says his style is progressing more toward a mix of prose writing and illustration. Eventually, he wants to move away from solely creating panels.
“Some people wait because they think they have to do the same thing forever,” he says. “That mistake made me not want to do it for a long time.”
The future of Seth’s comic creations involves creating a book focused on a teenager obsessed with Led Zeppelin who eventually discovers the dark magic of occultist Aleister Crowley.
He also plans to create a few one-off, short-form comics for various publications and attending comic-focused festivals to gain more exposure.
“I’m getting close to creating something autobiographical, but it’s getting attacked by fantasy,” Seth says. “People should make comics, too, with Sharpies — then maybe people wouldn’t feel so obligated to go to art school first.”
Seth Troyer’s third graphic novel, “Goodnight You Are Wonderful!”, is available to read online at sethtroyerfilms.tumblr.com. Hard copies are available to purchase for $10. The book is self-published.
He will sell physical copies at Square Records during the Soft Pedal Label showcase and book release event, happening Saturday, May 25 from 7 pm – 10 pm.
Brittany Nader is a professional writer and marketer in Akron.