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Work / Illustration

Evan M. Cohen’s black-and-white comics address modern anxiety

Illustrator Evan M. Cohen has been working on a personal comic project, aiming to launch this autumn, addressing the anxieties many face in modern society. The series of illustrations depict “the noises that hinder us” from connecting with reality, such as stress, delusion, fear, city life, social media and modern technology.

Some of the works use the comic panel setup to convey the progression of those feelings over time, showing walls closing in and the weight on a character’s shoulders slowly drowning them. Others use a larger format to create a wider scene; for example an ominous mass creeping toward the protagonist.

By using only black and white across the works, Evan has applied a uniformity to the series as well as creating drama. He uses a repeated pattern to identify the modern anxieties in each image, manifested in a range of shapes and forms, and contrasted with another pattern of clouds that appear to depict serenity.

“A lot of people are disconnected from their surroundings and it can be overwhelming to remind them of the realities of the world,” he explains of the comic’s premise. “Breaking down life through science or meditation or religion can be very rewarding. But there are a lot of requirements that distract us from being in an open minded state to accept those beliefs.

“I try to spend a lot of time outdoors and come inside to reflect on that in a tiny apartment in front of a computer screen. I enjoy technology but also am conflicted with how it is being used and how important it is to me. I don’t want to live off the grid, but I want to feel connected and comfortable with the world. I’m always searching for a good balance of noise and enlightenment and I guess this comic is a journal of that quest in some ways.”

The Oregon-born illustrator is currently based in Beacon, New York, from which he works on illustration for commercial projects, animation for music videos, motion graphics, and personal work he sells online. He cites influences as Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly and the work of early pop and abstract artists which he says “resonates with current alternative comics and a lot of art being published now”. According to the artist, it’s a growing sector.

“I think [comic and indie publishers] are some of the hardest working artists today and I am finding more people connecting with that kind of style and storytelling. Now more than ever you can find unique young artists online and get their work and share and trade your own art or at festivals or art openings. You can see comic artists popping up in magazines and editorials or on album covers and music videos. The community is always expanding and it’s exciting to watch it grow and be a part of it."

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