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Pictures For Sad Children is a webcomic series by artist John Campbell known for its dark, absurdist humor. The comic ended abruptly in 2014 following several controversies surrounding a crowdfunding campaign for a Pictures for Sad Children book.
In 2007, the Pictures For Sad Children site was launched, featuring webcomics focusing on the protagonist Gary, an office worker suffering from social anxiety and low self-esteem. Other characters included Gary’s roommate Jeremy, the ghost Paul Cho (who takes over Jeremy’s body after he dies), Gary’s cousin Sara, Sara’s Husband Afsheen, their daughter Maddy, Gary’s coworker Mariana and her ex-boyfriend Simon.
The dark humor and absurd/surreal situations along the semiphilosopical messages in which the comic developed, gathered it a big amount of viewers and fans quickly thanks to the rather sensitive and thought provoking topics it touched and how prone to create controversy this is, dragging the attention of many.
In 2008, the webcomic was a 2008 Web Cartoonists’ Choice Awards finalist in the “Outstanding Newcomer” category. On August 6th, The New Yorker published an interview with Campbell, in which he discussed the comic’s style of humor, childhood pets and what it would be like to live in the past. On December 22nd, 2009, a Facebook page titled “Pictures for Sad Children” was launched. The online retailer Topatoco sells various _Pictures for Sad Children merchandise, including T-shirts, hoodies and tote bags. On Tumblr, comics from the series are often shared under the tag #pfsc.
In May 2012, Campbell launched a Kickstarter campaign for a printed collection of Pictures for Sad Children comics. The page listed several unusual perks provided to backers of the campaign, including the receipt of an original comic drawn by Campbell while under the influence of the psychedelic drug DMT. On May 26th, the project was successfully funded with $51,615 pledged of the $8,000 goal.
On September 19th, Campbell updated the Kickstarter page with a post titled “I’ve been pretending to be depressed for profit and I’m sorry,” in which he announced he had faked sadness to mimic other artists suffering from clinical depression. On September 21st, Campbell posted another update titled “I’ve been pretending to be pretending to have depression for profit and I’m sorry,” stating that the previous update was false and that he was actually suffering from depression. On February 27th, 2014, a final update was posted to the Kickstarter page, announcing that 25% of the rewards for the campaign would not be sent out and that he would be ending the comic series. The post included a video in which Campbell is shown burning a pile of books, 127 copies of his book, claiming that he had burned one book for every message asking or complaining about the Kickstarter project and would continue to do so if more inquires were done (shown below).
Along with the video, Campbell posted a message expressing how he saw the crowdfunding proyect to be a harming way to promote and support capitalism, the concept of money being a “joke”, and how his actions would work to give a lesson about the true value of things. This accompained by insults and claims of indiference towards some of his proyect supporters and what they might think of him, all of this among some insight to the justification behind his actions.
The situation caused a serie of reactions from the backers that ranged from anger and frustation to understanding and even sympathy, and earnt Campbell the attention of multiple sites involved in the book publishing and comic industry, such as Mediabristo, BleedingCool, Comicbookresources, Slushpile and even DnaInfo, a local news site that covers ocurrences on New york and Chicago, and Business Insider an online business news blog.
Given the nature of the comic and Campbell’s recurrent unstable attitude, those who sympathized with Campbell some people got concerned and started to wonder what could have trigged such reaction coming from him, fans that followed his work and online activity closely started to fear a nervous breakdown and the consecuences that could come with it given that it was the case.
However the confussion and contradictions on Campbell’s messages allow for little to no accurate explanation at all and instead opens the ways to speculation.
Campbell’s actions seem conclusive and as of February 27th, the comic’s page is just a blank space which marks the end of the comic just as Campbell had announced, and his social networks have been mostly inactive ever since if not for the complete wipe of the archive on his Tumblr, Twitter, and the complete extention of his content on virtually all related accounts.
This last could have been predicted based on what he had mentioned at the end of his last update on the Kickstarter proyect: “I stopped reading my kickstarter messages in January. I may not log into kickstarter again, I don’t know if I’ll read the comments on this post. If I get a lot of emails I will delete my email address. I’m not sure where I’ll post next or when or what I’ll say or what will have happened, but I look forward to it.”
That Is My Fetish
“That Is My Fetish” It originated with a Pictures for Sad Children comic posted sometime in 2008, in which a stick figure character confesses that he desires pornography that can simulate having a significant relationship. Is used in a manner of approval or support towards some sexual affinity, or obsession, just as to defend some group or fandom that is labeled to have such interest. It has become what could be the most easily recognized contribution to the Internet coming from “PFSC” and has generated a great amount of derivatives among many fandoms.
ComicBookResources – ‘Pictures For Sad Children’ Creator Burns Kickstarter-funded books
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