A swaggering vampire, a ghost detective with an existential crisis, and various members from a particularly deadpan subset of the animal kingdom share snapshots of their lives in cartoonist Reza Farazmand's latest collection, Comics for a Strange World.
"I'm sure there's a proportional response of weirdness [in the comics] to the weirdness that's going on in the world," Farazmand told NPR.
Comics for a Strange World is Farazmand's second collection, which includes both new material and work previously published in his webcomic Poorly Drawn Lines.
"I hope people can relate to the comics and perhaps not take things too seriously," Farazmand said. "Like, I make fun of the progression of technology and cellphones and consumerism, so there's a few social topics that I want people to notice and take something away from."
We asked Farazmand what inspired four of our favorite strips from the collection:
On "I'm Mad"
"Yeah, that comic is interesting because people have attributed a lot of political messages to it. [Laughs] People see what they want to see in it. And I think, that feeling of just wanting to be mad about something is pretty common among humans.
It was mostly derived from my personal experiences where I would be like, 'Hm, there's an easy solution here, but it kind of feels good to be mad about this thing, so maybe I'll just be mad for awhile and think about solving it later.'"
On "The Goat, He Screams Like A Man"
"I'm sure you're familiar with the popular Youtube video of a goat screaming like a man. [Laughs.] ... So I just kind of took that and flipped it and was like, 'What if they actually said what people are thinking?'"
On "Ghost Detective"
"I guess it was maybe deeper than what I had intended it to be, and sometimes that kinda just happens... And I guess the perspective [of ghosts] is maybe they were alive for a very short period of time in comparison to eternity, which they're spending now as ghosts, so they might as well live in the present rather than worrying about the past.
[In the afterlife] I hope we don't turn into little sheets that float around and go spend time at the lakehouse. I hope it's something bigger than that, but ghosts are just a very convenient way to represent the afterlife and also still make them relatable as, basically, humans who are dead."
On "Cool Vampire"
"The inspiration for that comic was just ... trying to be cool."