Henry Rollins once quipped that the primary difference between the genders is that girls get older and become women, while boys just grow into fatter boys. I’m inclined to agree. Sure, the bills will get paid, the kids will get picked up, we might hit the gym a few times a week, take in a symphony now and then; but put more than three of us in a field with an ATV, some pellet guns and an open bar and watch the hilarity ensue.
Males take to sloth with astonishing proficiency [blanket generalizations coming here]: A generation reared on first-person-shooters and Adult Swim DVDs left some of us with an uncanny ability to mask an utter lack of direction under an encyclopedic knowledge of sci-fi and pop culture ephemera in a sort of self-esteem sleight of hand to distract from the rapid onset of panic besieging us with every inquiry of, “So, have you thought about what it is you want to do?” Of course, that could just be me.
It was certainly me when I first met Smells Like Maturity artist Khaiam Dar. I’d been in Toronto all of a month when Khaiam and I were hired as seasonal employees at an area bookstore. Perhaps it was a mutual love of comics and improvised banter, perhaps it was the unacknowledged look of anxiety in our eyes, but we formed a fast friendship. A couple years back I noticed Khy wasn’t working as much. Turns out he’d quietly enrolled in courses at the University of Toronto. While there, he reconnected with Alex, a friend from high school. Together they founded a comics club on campus, with their joint project the marquee attraction.
At first glance, the foibles of Andres and Jameel seem no different from any other story about manboys fumbling through life. But unlike the schlubs of an Apatow movie, Andres and Jameel are actually following the plan, they’re walking the roads of “school” and “faith” that are supposed to lead to things like “success” and “personal fulfillment,” but it’s not working, because the rules had changed by the time they arrived. Education and spiritual awareness are noble pursuits in themselves, but they don’t necessarily yield the same results previous generations enjoyed. That’s the real journey Khy and Al are taking these characters on. They just happen to be deft with a dick joke as well.
Of course, the irony is that in crafting these narratives of aimless slackers, Alex and Khaiam have stumbled into a sense of purpose their illustrated avatars have yet to discover. There may be hope for the species despite ourselves.
Just, you know, keep the pellet guns locked up.