And why did you guys decide to do a book of roaches when obviously you’re all deathly afraid and uncomfortable with them? Why do this to yourself? Why roaches?!!
Well, since a series of roach drawings sort of steered the project, I guess I’m largely responsible for this unfortunate situation.
Part of it has to do with drawing inspiration from the everyday horrors, since these fuckers are relentlessly horrific in my (and everyone else’s) house. If that isn’t enough I present you—Gomantong Caves, a cave system in Sabah, Malaysia that is literally filled with cockroaches. I mean, look at this:
I’ve never been there and also have sworn a blood oath to never go.
But aside from the above, there are two more personal reasons that drive my creative process:
One: So I stay in Malaysia, Southeast Asia, and like many folks, I’ve had my share of experiencing spooky occurrences.
Spooky experiences are really uncomfortable. My chest tightens and my head hurts (possibly from my own subconscious fear) and then in the corner of your eye, roaches and centipedes add to the high levels of discomfort. I’ve had multiple incidents of them hanging around like extras in a haunted film. The association of them and ominous spooky shit is seared in my head.
Two: I like animals, and I generally do my best to do no harm. In my work, I actively avoid contributing to normalizing animal harm.
For example, in ATTI we are very careful of casual depictions of animal cruelty/death whether as a narrative device or visual trope. And we generally avoid normalizing the idea of food = meat. It adds hurdles to our creative process but it is what it is.
This makes drawing ATTI monsters difficult for me because monsters are often inspired by animals.
I’d be researching an animal while drawing the monster form of it and in the end, I’d be like; aw man. I don’t want this cool/cute/awesome creature to be some monster that stupid humans will beat up.
Except roaches. Roaches are bad. They terrorize me, they eat my food, they disturb my sleep, they haunt my life.
I will bear the discomfort of looking at references of roaches. The nausea of drawing roaches. I will draw demon forms of roaches. I will bear the pain of this folder full of roach images inside my computer.
This post was originally published October 13, 2021 on the A Thousand Thousand Islands Patreon.