Recently in class, we have been discussing webcomics. While the comics I tend to read are manga, Marvel comics, or DC comics, I do read some online comics as well. One artist who I follow is a DeviantArt user named Yuumei. She tends to do a lot of artwork but she has written several comics such as 1000 Words about a young girl requesting the help of an artist so that she can learn to draw better and hopefully stop her family from splitting apart. Another comic she has done is called Knite about a group that flies kites at night lined with lights in order to bring the stars back to China’s night sky. Both of these comics are done with Adobe flash and are able to be viewed one panel at a time. The ability to click through the panels as well as the medium at times creates an effect that makes the images appear to move.
However, my favorite comic by her is Fisheye Placebo, which is about China’s strict control of the internet as well as censorship and fighting back against it. The comic is told in chapters, each done in a single long strip. However, Yuumei stopped posting chapter updates and has only recently uploaded one after three years. According to the note at the bottom of the most recent chapter, as can be seen in the image below, she ended up forming a team of artists to help her in her work. This is not because of lack of time or because she is having trouble coming up with ideas. Instead, it is because she suffers from Repetitive Strain Injury. This injury causes pain in her hands and has limited the time she is able to draw. It stems from drawing and holding her hand in an awkward position for long periods of time. With the help of her team, she is able to paint over the images and backgrounds they make in order to decrease the time she is drawing.
This condition effects other individuals both in the comic community and outside it. According to this article from NHS, it can occur in other areas of the body such as the neck, and can result from several things. Having that part of the body in an awkward state or having poor posture, not taking breaks during high-intensity activities, and repetitive activities, such as drawing, can cause it to occur. The article says that symptoms include cramps, stiffness, pain, weakness, and possibly numbness in the infected area and it can worsen, leading to the pain lasting for longer periods. NHS suggest taking breaks, correcting posture, and de-stressing in order to prevent this disorder. If one is already suffering from this order, they should try to change what they are doing or they may have to give up the task entirely. For artists that support themselves with their drawing, having to produce artwork quickly makes it hard for them to take breaks. Every artist should watch out for their health as if they continue to push, they may have to stop their work entirely.
College students and office workers should also take this advice. This issue does not just impact artists but anyone who does activities that fall under the potential risk factors. Working on homework and surfing online can lead to awkward sitting positions as well as repetitive motion with one’s hands. Taking breaks, sitting properly at a table or desk, and taking time to relax can help to prevent this issue from occurring.
For an article on comic book artists that have suffered from issues like this, click here.
For an article also involving webcomics, click here. One of the things the writer brings up is how a webcomic they read dealt with issues most mainstream comics are unable to discuss. I believe Yuumei’s work fits into this category as she create stories based around her birth country of China, such as the problem of air pollution and the government controlling the voice of its people.
The featured image is one of Yuumei’s artworks for Fisheye Placebo.