“It doesn’t matter if people ‘get it.’ My art is about self-expression.”
You will never hear Doug TenNapel utter those words, unless perhaps, they’re dripping with irony and they’re acting as a satirical punch line in one of his comics.
Doug TenNapel is a graphic novelist. Painting thick, expressive strokes with Japanese brushes, his work walks the fine line between spontaneity and mess, always telling a story and never falling into the esoteric.
Wildly imaginative, TenNapel’s stories involve giant bugs, supernatural events, aliens, robots and dinosaurs (think Calvin and Hobbes-esque). Simultaneously, his stories are journeys into inner struggles, asking questions about the things that make us human: faith, love, belonging, hurt and loss.
TenNapel is not afraid to express his opinion, yet he takes care to do so in a way that is understandable and invites the reader into a dialogue. This was made abundantly clear to me in one of his most recent (and ongoing) works, the web comic Ratfist. The comments section on TenNapel’s website overflowed with readers’ feedback, questions and discussions. Doug would frequently respond to his readers to talk about the themes in his work. (Unfortunately, the comments section on TenNapel’s website was recently closed. See the note at the bottom for explanation.)
Why should you read Doug TenNapel’s graphic novels?
1. They are fun.
2. They will make you think, whether you agree or not.
3. They will move you.
Where should you start?
Flink: A short, moving story about fathers and sons, and a Sasquatch. A great introduction to TenNapel’s work.
Ratfist: It’s FREE to read online, beautifully colored by Katherine Garner and ridiculously fun.
Creature Tech: A thought-provoking story about a young man’s struggle with faith and science, a symbiotic alien, a giant bug and a mad scientist!
Iron West: Robot. Cowboys. Need I say more? I love robots.