Lines of doubt, fear and tenderness in the work of José Luis Cuevas and Tommi Parrish
Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics
Taylor and Francis
School of Arts and Humanities
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. How is it that within the graphic tradition particular images, often composed of only lines and washes on paper, can convey complex states of being and speak to questions of existence? For the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813–55) to exist is to face uncertainties and commit oneself passionately to a way of life, which emerges only through the acting-out of that commitment. This paper considers the work of two very different artists and aims to illuminate the common philosophical ground and expose significant differences. José Luis Cuevas was a Mexican self-taught artist who made drawings of human suffering. He began drawing fallible images of humanity at a very young age after a prolonged illness. He worked in opposition to established works of art in his home country. Tommi Parrish is a contemporary Australian transgender comic book artist whose work often traverses gaps in human understanding, sexuality, identity and anxiety to convey tenderness and humour. The work of Tommi is noteworthy in terms of how sequenced imagery builds on often wordless tension between awkward individuals and the situation they find themselves in. I seek to reveal an alternative narrative layer for each artist by considering gestures within their work.