It’s no surprise to anyone to find that even though this year has been inexplicably terrible, there are still people out there that can find some humor in it. After all, a lot of what comedy is revolves around self-defense, which is surprising. And I don’t mean physically, I mean mentally. Cracking a joke here and there about things that negatively impact your mental health allows you to trivialize, compartmentalize, and even process these events in a healthy manner!
That’s why Mart Virkus, an Estonian visual artist, is so popular. With a flair for the dramatic and a love for the mainstream, he describes himself as a huge video game fan, and it’s obvious in his comics too, because they’re full of game and pop culture references. There are even references to things that are a little more obscure, like Tiananmen Square which is an infamous and stifled event where the Chinese government ran over their own citizens to silence them.
He himself had this to say!
They are inspired by games, movies, memes, and other art in general. But also the things going on in the world, whether it’s corona or climate issues. The ideas come together when these two things meet. I just like layering in different meanings into a single comic. I guess it’s just the fun of finding new connections between art and life. Sometimes it’s about highlighting a more serious issue while not making it obvious, and letting the reader make that connection.
#4 New topics
#5 Batman and Joker
So it’s like a mind game for both me and the reader. And other times, it’s just random silly jokes with no deeper meaning. Or just jokes about games I like. Above all, making these just makes me feel less anxious about the world and if it does that for others too, then that’s a win. I think we all have a little monster living inside us, and it’s just fun to let them out every now and then—as long as it’s not hurting anybody. It’s also liberating because dark humor speaks to a less restrained and more honest version of ourselves.
#11 Satan at funerals
Creativity is a double-edged sword. If you make something and it works, it gives you an incredibly powerful high. But I think a lot of creatives know that what goes up must come down—so the greatest challenge is getting through those low points. I find it helps to not feel guilty about feeling bad and riding that wave until you feel better. Then, as soon as I feel better, I start working on ideas, even if they seem crappy at first.
Positive reactions definitely help. But I also really enjoy hiding meanings and references here and there. It’s like playing a mind game with the audience to see if they catch a hidden message or a reference. It’s just fun to not be obvious and let the audience connect the dots. It’s like you’re in school and the teacher says something accidentally dirty and you look at your friend like ‘oh yeah, that happened and everybody knows it.’
#20 Netflix & Chill
#22 Saving money
I also just enjoy the process of playing with lines and colors. I can be a bit hyperactive, so drawing helps to slow the brain down and gives it something to focus on. Of course, though not always. But art is a release—it’s a way to feel better about difficult things by putting them in a spotlight. Sometimes bad things happen and it’s important to talk about them.
#23 Luke, no!
#27 Praise the Sun!
We did a comic with Toggl’s developers once about what it would be like to save a princess using programming languages—that was the first comic that went really viral. It was awesome, especially because we had so much fun brainstorming these jokes. One time I got a retweet from the president of Estonia. That was weird too.
#29 Harry, no!
#30 The future
What did you think about his comics? I feel a little bad for laughing at some of these! Tell us down in the comments.