Last year we were treated to a sneak peak into the greedy, seedy and unjust world of Motel Universe, a new comic by the Copenhagen-based illustrator Joakim Drescher. Unconventionally releasing volumes one and two at the same time, we welcomed the 290 pages (in total) of illustrated joy. Following the tale of a bounty hunter named Clara Constellation and her adventures on an alternate universe known as Planet Pear, the debut comic also featured an all-too-familiar antagonist B Flump in the form of the ghost of the Roman Emperor Caligula.
Off the back of Motel Universe 2 (which Joakim had just finished at the time of last year’s article) the comics artist was all set for an exciting trip to New York to promote the work at Mocca fest when Covid struck. “So that was cancelled *sigh*,” he exhales, but despite the disappointment, it’s been an otherwise fruitful year for Joakim who’s recently released a new book of tales titled Miserable Mildred published by Terry Bleu, a long term collaborator who’s previously published Joakim’s earlier works including the Motel Universe franchise.
Mildred, a “disgruntled millennial artist” ruminates on life and a (lack of) love alone, stuck at home, in a grossly close series of events that pretty much everyone in the world has experienced in 2020. Yes, Joakim has in fact, created a comic set in the midst of a deadly virus. “The character was created to house my misanthropic/pessimistic thoughts and musings around humanity,” he says, “basically to complain.” Creating a Harry Potter-like little cupboard up in the attic to use as a studio and, importantly, to get out of her way, he crafted the story that would go onto fill the pages of the dark haired, half dog half human character, Mildred.
The first book featuring Miserable Mildred started back in 2012 long before the time of Covid but it wasn’t until earlier this year that Joakim decided to reintroduce her to his faithful audience. In response to the Desert Islands utopian comic challenge, he breathed new life into her, creating something which was unfortunately “too dystopian” and thus rejected. As Joakim suitably puts it, “God knows 2020 has provided enough depressing material.” Though it was rejected, the story provided the illustrator with the foundations for a new set of stories which would go onto become Miserable Mildred.
Unlike Motel Universe, this new comic is far from the Star Wars, pop culture satire. Instead its confessional, reading almost like a diary and is pretty close to everyday life documented in Joakim’s intricate felt tip penned hand, which only adds to the richness of the narrative. He adds on this turn in genre: “If I’m successful in getting my point across, well, misery loves company.”
Though it’s undisputedly a tale of lockdown detailing a handful of trials and tribulations experienced by the many, for Joakim, lockdown hasn’t been so different from the norm as a freelance creative. “Solitude and isolation go with the territory,” he says on the matter. It was even “nice not to feel FOMO” he admits, but then again, Joakim points out, “maybe that’s just Mildred talking”.
Besides from wreaking copious amounts of havoc, in one positive takeaway, the strangeness of the world has creatively inspired Joakim to delve into themes of capitalism (and of course Covid) in new drawings. We can view examples of such on the cover of the latest edition of Wobby magazine. Other than that, stay tuned for a new issue of Motel Universe coming soon. Hopefully Corona will have passed by its release too as Joakim’s bedroom is currently on a slant from the torrent of boxes filled with books.
GalleryJoakim Drescher: Miserable Mildred published by Terry Bleu (Copyright © Joakim Drescher, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.