The main thing I was worried about going into this course was my artwork. I don’t think it’s very good. I can’t draw backgrounds with vast detail, or characters with strong facial expressions, or even cars without making them look distorted. Drawing comics is an uphill, uncomfortable battle for me. Reading John Porcellino’s Diary of a Mosquito Abatement Man changed the way I look at my drawing abilities. It made me realize that I could have a raw drawing style and still make it work and be effective.
The story (which I believe was serialized in King-Cat) is given context through the introduction. The main character finds himself working as a mosquito abatement man, and falls into this weird “human vs. nature” realm that eventually overcomes him. He spends years in different aspects of this business, meeting interesting people, and experiencing shocking events, from witnessing car sex to being literally sucked to sickness. He goes insane driving a fog truck 12 miles an hour for 12 hours a day. He becomes sick of his job, killing mosquito after mosquito, until he finally quits for good.
There’s a clear change in art throughout the book. I can see Porcellino’s style shift from a more raw style, to a more crisp and clean one. This gives me hope that my own artwork will continue to improve, assuming I will continue to draw and make comics (I will). I kind of liked how the raw art reflected the main character’s raw experience in dealing with the mosquitos. The longer the main character stayed as a mosquito abatement man, the cleaner and more refined the art became. The connection seemed important to Porcellino’s character’s mental stability.
The main character begins to feel guilty about killing the mosquitos. Well, less guilty about killing the mosquitos and more guilty about spreading poison into the air and water. But when his boss gives him a logical explanation for why they kill the mosquitos, the main character doesn’t feel any better about this. This was very interesting to me. It was like he was finally siding with nature over humans. Even more, it was like he finally understood his place in nature, and acted accordingly.
This book provided insight into a world and process that few know. I hate mosquitos, and have never considered anything from their point of view before, until I read this book. For the record, I still hate mosquitos, they’re awful, but I’ve learned about an aspect of nature I had never even thought about before, with artwork similar to my own.