I Am Pig

June 27th, 2010

Andrew and Steven are away and I Am Pig has come to play.

A strip by Bob Ferrie


41 Responses to “I Am Pig”

  1. Tymbus Says:

    What the F**** There might be a right way to read this but there are also quite a few wrong ones. Gary take your low self esteem and shove it in the pages of another unlovely anthology of jokes.

  2. Zom Says:

    Hmmm… I think you might have a point

  3. Zom Says:

    Then again, I think your point is based on a misreading. Could you unpack it a bit?

  4. bobsy Says:

    Come on Timbo, where’s the real problem with this strip? Talk me through it like I’m an idiot, because very possibly I am, but I read the strip to be quite harmless: Frank the Pig is sad and mad, and he has constructed an imaginary lover who, as it turns out, is structurally incapable of loving him back because in his sub-subconscious he doesn’t feel he deserves it.

    It’s a bit misanthropic I suppose – Frank is funny because he hates himself – but it’s not really egregious in a homophobic and/or haha mental illness way, is it? I think I might be missing something?

  5. Worst Case Lothario Says:

    Personally I found it rather funny.

    To be honest Tymbus, there’s no need to be so vitriolic about this cartoon, if you don’t like it then that’s your prerogative but there is no need to be offensive; especially when the strip displayed here isn’t even by Gary Lactus. As I comprehend the situation, this is the first cartoon posted anywhere by Bob Ferrie and to be so critical of someone’s first piece of work is rather disdainful.

    Furthermore, is it not better to channel one’s low self esteem into a creative endeavour than to simply “shove it away”. Not all humour is to everyone’s taste – I’m sure there are people who haven’t enjoyed
    some of your posts/podcasts, but most of them wouldn’t take the action of posting offensive comments about it.

    If you can’t countenance this cartoon and its humour to such a strong degree then simply don’t read the next one. That way you save yourself the displeasure of reading something you don’t like and save us the displeasure of having to hear your comments about it.

  6. Zom Says:

    In Tim’s defence, he’s suggesting that the strip is homophobic, which in my view is worth complaining about.

    I don’t think it *actually is* homophobic, however, and I feel that Tim’s view is based upon a misreading.

  7. Gary Lactus Says:

    Where does he suggest that it’s homophobic? Explain yourself, Tymbus… if you dare!

  8. Zom Says:

    That’s the thing, I suppose, he doesn’t. I just inferred that he’d read it that way from what he’s written.

    Yes. To explain

  9. Sprucey Bruce Says:

    I thought that was awfully funny actually. There’s nothing to read into except that the author is a grumpy young man. Jolly good stuff, well done Mr Ferrie.

  10. Worst Case Lothario Says:

    Why not just “Respect Our Fandom”?

  11. Big Rose Says:

    HOMOSEXUALITY is not judged here! It is simply treated as a valid form of sexuality, which in this case happens to make the object of someones desire unavailable. And the ‘object’ is a in fact not even there – haHA! It’s brilliant : ) xx

  12. It Burns Says:

    Uhhhh…Is it possible Tymbus was being a little kidder-pants?

    Me thinks so.

  13. Zom Says:

    Maybe, but knowing Tymbus like I do I suspect genuine annoyance.

  14. conrad Says:

    i for one am very disappointed by this strip. there is none of the juvenile gross-out humour based around bodily functions that i have come to expect from this poster. instead a subtly layered bittersweet human tale. WTF! this sucks.

  15. lawry Says:

    this is quite clearly one of the most antisemitic pieces of work i gave ever read. this strip is obviously rooted in pure hatred for all social minorities/religions.

  16. Tymbus Says:

    Sorry ‘It burns’ but I was serious. A fuller account is in the works. But just a quick apology to the poster and Gary for not taking time to explain why I was annoyed.

    As for ‘Lothario’ a) all creative works are open to criticism and any artists should learn from or live with the range of responses to their work. Offense is as legitimated emotion as anything else. b) Your advice doesn’t work really e.g. “Those easily offended jews. If they don’t like our films portaraying them as rats then they shouldn’t go and see them besides its Goring’s first work give him a chance he’ll get better at it!” (No I am not comparing Bob to a Nazi -just addressing the logic of the argument).

    However, Lothario aren’t you the guy who cracks all those jokes about paedophiles, Downes Syndrome Kids and described my drinking buddies as “Thlids”? Aren’t you the guy who has threatened a Dr Who writer whose work you don’t like with physical violence? (eg. “watch his back”)Didn’t you get kicked off a blog site for asking contributors to complie a list of artists who deserved to be killed?

  17. Zom Says:

    Well, we’ll not be tolerating any such behaviour over here, that’s for sure.

  18. Zom Says:

    I also want to make it real clear to anyone who might think that this is a safe space to reflect upon the tragedy of the poor oppressed white, western, heterosexual male: we love a bit of PC gone mad.

    We’re not perfect, we overstep the bounds sometimes, but we’re basically on the side of diversity and equality.

  19. Tymbus Says:

    While still considering the fuller response, I would just like to point out that I don’t buy the idea that comic strips or any other work (e.g.performing in a band) provides a good opportunity for people to deal with their mental health issues . My concerns are that 1) this plays to the fallacy that artists are tortured geniuses and that poor mental health is a prerequisit of great art. A sufferer of depression, for instance, much like an alcoholic or any other addict, can become convinced that the disease is their very best friend or worse a crucial and important part of their identity inspiring them to great things. 2) there is little/no evidence for the success of cathartic practices and some evidence of the reverse-that expressing or acting out anger leads to more feelings of anger 3) mental health issues harm the individual and often those around them and are currently helped by medication or counselling or both depending on the condition. 4) Using performance or artwork as a channel for mental health issues outside of a theraputic context is likely to perpetuate and heighten those problems as the performance context does not provide the guided reflection or challenge to cognitive distortions that counselling does. So in answer to the (probably rhetorical) question: is it not better to channel one’s low self esteem into a creative endeavour than to simply “shove it away”? My answer is no. Or rather this is a false either/or scenario. Neither are good. Get help.

  20. conrad Says:


  21. I AM PIG Says:

    Thank you for your comments Tymbus. I agree with your earlier post about the importance of being able to openly criticise art/artists, I didn’t create I AM PIG thinking that it would be to everyone’s taste, far from it in fact. It does not employ safe comedy (and I draw a distinction between safe comedy and unskilful comedy) and the likelihood of one of the I AM PIG strips offending someone was, in my mind, inevitable. As you say ‘Offense is as legitimated emotion as anything else’ and perhaps the only way I could challenge that sentiment would be to say that a lot of people seem to like I AM PIG and to suggest that the right to offend is more important than the right to be offended, freedom of speech an’ all that.

    Also, whilst I don’t know if your later comments are directed at the above strip or to the comments of Worst Case Lothario, I would like to point out that I don’t consider myself to suffer with my mental health nor do I believe myself to be a tortured artist.
    I AM PIG is not an expression of inner turmoil or depression it is certainly not meant to be a form of therapy, it is just a convenient medium for my sense of humour.

    Finally I would like you to consider that whilst art as a means of catharsis may or may not have health benefits for those who suffer with mental health, it has a positive function in providing a voice for a marginalized group of people.

  22. Zom Says:

    I’m not interested in whether comedy is offensive, what concerns me is whether it contributes to discourses which are hurtful to minority groups, etc… On the whole I’m offended by racist humour, but that’s not the grounds on which I object to it.

    I’m thinking that Tim might be thinking along the same lines.

  23. conrad Says:

    Zom are you saying you think this strip “contributes to discourses which are hurtful to minority groups”?

    how? i can’t see it..

  24. Zom Says:

    No, I’m saying that Tim seems to think that it does something along those lines. That he’s quite possibly not merely offended

  25. Tymbus Says:

    Hi Bob, I was pretty annoyed with your strip.

    Despite the fact the lesbian character is not the butt of your joke I think it does use the figure of the lesbian to represent your character’s utter self debasement.

    I also think your strip relies on a rather limited use of gender/sexual possibilities offered in our society.

    On one level the joke just doesn’t work for me because it lacks a connection to current reality. In many ways some jokes, such as yours, are like syllogisms in that they have a logical structure in which the punchline is entailed by the preceding propositions.

    However, such jokes also have an empirical content. When comic genius Homer (Simpson) observes “It’s funny because it’s true” he captures the point that a joke with empirical content but no reality ceases not only to be funny but to be tellable.

    I feel your strip a) confuses love and sex b) excludes the reality of complex gender identities in our society and c) doesn’t even capture the processes of meaning making in cases of low self esteem.

    Point b) is of particular note. When the male says that he will do anything to gain the love of his friend and the friend asks can he be a woman? The answer in our society is ‘yes’. Gender re-assignment and transexuality ensure that the categories of male and female are not rigid. If the Male is prepared to do anything then what is stopping him becoming a women?-only the way gender identities are being imagined by the strip’s writer and those readers who found it worked as a joke. To imagine otherwise would stop the joke dead in its tracks. To work, the joke depends on sexual categories being understood as essential, fixed and unchanging identities.

    But what if we read ‘love’ as more than sex? Here too is a problem. The fact is straight women do fall in love with gay men, have sex with them and have their children. Gay men do have crushes on straight men even if the affections are not reciprocated in the same way. And Lesbians can be romantically attracted to men and can have sex with men. Not only are some of these arrangements highly visible (Has there been a season of Big Brother without a LGBT individual falling for a straight man or woman?), I have witnessed them in my own life.

    Crucially, I have never attributed such desires to low self esteem in the individuals involved.
    Wanting something you cannot have (or at least can’t have entirely on your own terms) is not an indication of low self worth. In my observation it is often an indication of a utopian longing or just simply the fairly messy realities of living everyday life as a human.

    A joke not working doesn’t make me annoyed (otherwise I wouldn’t watch many TV sitcoms) what is , I think, a reasonable concern is the negative evaluations that operate in your strip. The man discovering the women he has projected is a lesbian seems to draw on the same kind of shock that heterosexual men feel when even thinking about men having sex with each other. Ho! Ho! Our hero is so abject the only companion he can manage to project as a lover is a lesbian (Yuck!). How fucked up is that, folks!

    I must admit that some of my annoyance arose from the way women and others get represented in some of the work tangently connected to The Mindlessones. Occasionally there seems to be a project of abjection at work in which it is deemed ok to laugh at ugly people (for instance) for no other reason than they look ugly. Women seem a particular issue and I do wish ‘cunt’ would stop being an apparently endlessly used word in the Blog as a source of humour. I tend to attribute much of this aggression as arising from problems with individuals’ feelings of low self worth.

    So your low self esteem sketch just triggered a kind of final straw reaction of the “not another one!” kind.

    I should point out that I have no feelings of animosity to you as an individual. I have no idea if you suffer from low self esteem or not.I certainly don’t want to stop you striving to be a cartoonist. I do wonder if you need to find a better, more authentic, source for your humour.

  26. conrad Says:

    “To work, the joke depends on sexual categories being understood as essential, fixed and unchanging identities.”

    -I disagree. The gender difference can just as easily be read as a temporary situation which is keeping the two protagnists apart, within the chain of events in the strip. The strip doesnt deny gender change, it just doesnt mention it in the story its tellling. It doesnt mention policemen either, doesnt mean it has to be read as anti-police.

    “Wanting something you cannot have (or at least can’t have entirely on your own terms) is not an indication of low self worth”

    -In this scenario the person with low self worth is shown by his (commented on) actions to have the underlying or subconscious belief that he doesnt deserve to be loved (he’s not good enough to be loved). That’s perfectly consistent as an indication of low self worth.

    “The man discovering the women he has projected is a lesbian seems to draw on the same kind of shock that heterosexual men feel when even thinking about men having sex with each other.”

    -I can’t see anything in this strip to suggest that reading over just viewing it as just a unforeseen set- back to the main character.

    In what can be read as a quite neutral strip, it seems you are trying to graft on an extreme message or debate that you want to bring to the table. I think you have not been very fair to the creator in this matter.

  27. bobsy Says:

    We don’t use the c-bomb around here that much Tymbus, to be fair. There is one pretty ginormous usage of it on the front page at the moment, admittedly, but you will find few others, and if I remember right you laughed when you saw the sketch of that cartoon in the pub a few weeks back…

  28. Komrade X Says:

    A sad and pathetic character with the ability to undermine even his own fantasies. Brilliant!

  29. Zom Says:

    I have to say, I’m not too keen on cunt, either. Not sure if I’ve ever used it on the blog.

    Not entirely sure what you mean when you talk about some jokes having empirical content but no reality, and I say that as someone who has studied basic logic. Are we talking about tigers dancing on the moon? We have empirical data that tigers and moons and dancing exist, but there is (probably) no such thing in reality as tigers that dance on the moon? Are you getting at the point that it’s possible to construct a logical argument that is formally air tight but that has no bearing on reality? If so might I point out that lots and lots of humour is based on things that have no basis in reality? Also, I’m not sure that Homer’s dialogue was supposed to be taken as a statement about the necessary components of humour (I’m extremely skeptical about the existence of such components), rather it seems to me that he was simply commenting on the humorous elements of that specific funny thing.

  30. lawry Says:

    to ‘Komrade X’
    are you talking about the comic strip or ‘tymbus’?

  31. Zom Says:

    I’m hoping the former.

  32. Worst Case Lothario Says:

    To be honest Tymbus I think you’ve pretty much hemorrhaged your argument’s credibility on two fronts here.

    Firstly I think that when you have have to start using Nazi analogies and examples to justify an argument over a 12 panel gag strip it show the sign of some seriously misplaced irritation.

    Secondly, I posted under a pseudonym and thus dragging in conversation or criticisms you might have had of/with me in real life into your post is both impolite and has the distinctly pungent aroma of desperation. Clearly you would rather resort to unpleasant attacks about my topics of conversation OFF-SITE than produce a reasonable response to my comments ON-SITE.

  33. Zom Says:

    That may be, but you haven’t exactly engaged with Tymbus’s more substantive points. I’d rather we moved away from the personal jabs, regardless of who jabbed first.

  34. Tymbus Says:

    Conrad-Ta for that. An interesting counterpoint to the general points I made. But I wonder if Lothario’s claim that art should channel low self esteem orother negative emotions really relates to the activities described? On this I remain unconvinced. Also, the claims made by the item need partly to be read in the context of a sales pitch. But nice repost.

  35. Tymbus Says:

    Lothario, Really using Nazi propaganda as an examople is a failrly common trope. It at least ensures everyone has an idea about what you are talking about. I could have referred to Robinson’s goll campaign or 19th century cartoons of Irish people as apes. However, I think I am of a generation where WWII was an understandably more relevant touchstone: As a kid 80% of my mates were Jewish, there were several published partworks on WWII and celebrations of the Battle for Britain. Kids played Germans and British in the street and there were several popular War strips and books. So maybe it is a more historically specific/meaningful reference than I thought.

    Most of my concern about contributors to the “desperate” comedy abjection comes from the interface between the blog and the social network around it. So really there isn’t a clear boundary. Don’t worry I’ll keep your true identity secrect so you won’t be too embarissed when you grow up.

  36. Tymbus Says:

    zom- sorry the empirical content/no reality just jibe sounded good at the time> God knows if it stands unpacking. I was toying with trying to analyse how jokes work. There may be a syllogistic elements.
    The difference (from philosophy) between 4+4=8 and All Cats are Black, Sooty is a cat so Sooty is Black is that while 4+4=8 requires no emprical content and is universally true, All cats are Black etc. attempts to understand the world through Reason or Rationality via logic but, as falsificationists note All Cats are BlacK can be refuted by finding a white cat.

    How do jokes work? Are some syllogisms. I am not sure. Jokes may be funny because they are indeterminate, or that the punchline transforms retrospecively the pounchline. I’ll have to leave that issue to people with more time on their hands.

    However if the emprical objects in a joke don’t conform to our undertanding of them then the jokes don’t work. When is a door not a door? When its a jar. Doesn’t work unless we had common agreement on the properties of doors and jars. When is an imagined lesbian lover the sign of a man’s low self esteem? When straight blokes get pissed up in pubs.

  37. Tymbus Says:

    Actually Conrad I have now looked at the Start Scheme in more detail. 1st it is part of the NHS Mental Health Service 2nd the creative work is supervised by a team and therefore takes place in a therapeutic context. Also, the scheme developes self care skills and coping strategies which may be linked to mental health but are distinct from it. This list of things that may be acheived through art is rather taken out of context if not read in this light. So, I honestly feel that your example supports my arguement rather than refutes it.

    Certainly, nothing about the scheme suggests yelling about fantisied wrongs in a Brighton pub or simply pouring out your own mental health issues in cartoon (I am not saying Bob has any , that was Lothario’s claim)are helpful.

  38. Tymbus Says:

    Bobsy- Yep. Guilty as charged. I try and fit in with you guyss when you stray into these areas, but later I bang my head to sleep. Hypocrasy? or just trying to negotiate friendships with people beyond my own “natural” circle? You decided. However I hope I have now made my feelings clear-and don’t forget the massive act of self censorship I did on my comments.

  39. Tymbus Says:

    I am Pig- oops almost overlooked your response. Sorry. 1) It was Lothario who seemed to imply you have mental health issues but my response was not addressed to you but to the claim that your strip should be regarded as therapy. “Get help” was not addressed to any individual but was by way of general advice to anyone who had mental health issues. If its a choice between scrippling cartoons or therapy as a way forward-pick therapy.

    2) I am not clear what marginal voice you think is represented by your strip. White males with feelings of sexual insecurity? Surely a majority.

  40. Zom Says:

    Tym, you do know that I am Zom B.A. Hons in Philosophy don’t you?

  41. conrad Says:

    “there is little/no evidence for the success of cathartic practices”


    “Using performance or artwork as a channel for mental health issues outside of a theraputic context is likely to perpetuate and heighten those problems as the performance context does not provide the guided reflection or challenge to cognitive distortions that counselling does”

    - I found the page i linked in about 30 secs after reading your post in which you made the above two statements.

    I didn’t go to the trouble to read in detail the page I linked. I assessed it was using evidence to support its claim for the services it was offering. I linked it because it lists studies which could be said to show there is evidence for cathartic practices and outlines arguments that art may be theraupeutic outside
    a guided context. I offered the link to those who may find your comments dismissive of their experience.
    I have no burning wish to change your opinions and am choosing not to read in detail your latest posts. The general sense (and it is just that a sense) I get is of someone who wants to rephrase/reposition their original stated position rather than admit it was too extreme in the first place. I.e.=

    “My answer is no. Or rather this is a false either/or scenario. Neither are good. Get help”

    has been spun to =

    ” If its a choice between scrippling cartoons or therapy as a way forward-pick therapy”

    However you are still broadcasting the same black and white prescriptions out into the world.

    You are not a qualified mental health expert able to professionally treat people as far as I know.

    My sense is you reacting from a wounded ego in this thread and I have no wish to get into point scoring arguments to stoke this. Please go ahead and pick apart in fine detail every counter argument offered on this thread. But I am posting this as a last statement for those who would like to read a less extreme viewpoint.

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