I came across 1111 Comics when the creator, Alex Wronski, reached out to me through Facebook. Talk about an all-around nice guy! After my first contact and visit to his site, I was intrigued to follow his exceptional comic.
1111 Comics provides a breath of fresh air in the webcomics world by sharing a lighter and more inspirational side to traditional webcomic topics. He does so by bringing up the questions we all ponder, such as the reason for human existence, whether or not wishes come true, relationships with the world, and deeper issues such as the existence of God and the Devil. Through these regular 4 panel comics, Wronski exercises minimums in order to keep the comics concise and accessible. Here’s a little more into the world of 1111 Comics from an interview I did with Wronski:
Interview with Alex Wronski, creator of 1111 Comics
Q. Have you always been an artist and/or what got you into drawing comics?
A. Art is something I’ve always enjoyed doing but never had time for. I’ve finished many paintings but they would always take weeks to complete and never satisfied my need to express ideas. Perhaps I was doing it wrong, but I turned to comics. I would occasionally draw humorous comics for friends as replies to their messages.
Q. What inspired you to begin 1111 Comics?
A. I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. I don’t really have any life goals beside wanting to be happy. All this is fine until I come across something I actually want. I’m not used to wanting something and consequently I’m not practiced in dealing with it, especially when it’s out of my control. My solution consequently is to create logical exercises in my head to either find a way to reach what I want, convince myself it doesn’t matter, or convince myself I shouldn’t worry about it.
One such night of spending a great deal of time thinking about something I really wanted, I decided to write all my thoughts down. I filled an entire exercise book, and the next morning I decided to turn them into some comics. They were very basic. They weren’t designed to look good, but to convey the thoughts in my head. I posted them on facebook and tumblr and shared them and from then continued to make more. The comics made me feel better and other people seemed to like them and so 1111 comics was born.
Q. Doreen Virtue, an author from Hay House, states that seeing 1’s regularly is a sign to “monitor your thoughts carefully, and be sure to only think about what you do want, not what you don’t want.”* Does that also align to the origin of your name “1111”and why you often see 1:11 and 11:11, or do you feel that perhaps your clocks are broken at home?
A. The first time I fell in love, or perhaps more accurately, the first time I realized I was in love, I remember looking at the time and it was 11:11. From then on, many profoundly emotional moments in my life were marked by the time 11:11. I see 11:11 almost everyday, and especially so when my headspace or emotions are in flux. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence or a result of pattern seeking conditioning, but I still like to think of 11:11 as a reminder to remember that I don’t exist tomorrow or yesterday; I exist right now and should be enjoying the moment rather than losing myself in a past I cannot change or a future I cannot control. I made a comic about this:
I named the comic 1111 because that night when I was lost in irresistably tumultous thoughts, I had to remind myself that my worries about the future and what I wanted were hurting me and I needed to be focusing on enjoying the moment.
Q. Your commentary about your use of 1’s leads to the fundamental question of “can wishes come true?”Assuming they can be, what would one of your next wishes be?
A. A few months after starting 1111, it came to my attention that when you see 11:11 you’re supposed to make a wish. This was very amusing to me because I often make comics touching on the idea of wishes and didn’t realize the name was so appropriate. It was just a coincidence.
Can wishes come true? This is a question I often grapple with in my comics. The comic www.1111comics.me/comic/29 especially touches on this.
I think the most interesting question is not what the ‘next’ wish should be, but rather, if you could only have one wish, what would it be? It has to be the ultimate wish. It has to be one such wish that if you make it, you’ll NEVER need another wish. It’s the best possible wish you could ever come up with. I haven’t worked out what this wish is yet (at least for me). Maybe one day I will discover it, or maybe it’s impossible and the idea of heaven is that there is always a better wish and it is always coming true forever. mmmm
Q. You integrate many Buddhist and Taoist teachings into your comics. Were these ideas introduced to you during your upbringing or do you have a regular practice that encourages these insights?
A. I have no familiarity with Buddhist or Taoist teachings (except the 2nd comic that I ever made was based on something a friend once told me). I avoid books on philosophy because I believe that everyone’s happiness is contained within their own head and every person can reach it themselves. The idea that you need to read a book or hear someone else’s teaching to make you happy seems to take away agency and makes little sense for all the people with no exposure to such books or teachings. Please note that I used the word ‘need’ – it doesn’t mean that such books and teachings aren’t great or cannot help, I just don’t think they are necessary.
Q. I love your explanation of the use of a triangle as God’s halo (i.e. “because a triangle has 3 sides, just like a story…it makes it not affiliated with any particular religion…and circles require pi and pi is irrational…” (more at http://www.1111comics.me/faq/). What type of feedback have you received about this one element?
A. Everybody seems to want to know the answer to why it’s a triangle. It doesn’t really matter, and I am happy for everyone to have their own explanations. I’m curious why people aren’t more questioning of why is God old, bald, has a beard, or is a man? To me, these are more absurd representations of God because they are humanizing, and the triangle is actually the most pure and ‘god-like’ feature of the character.
Q. Your early works feature many 1’s and 0’s. Did this binary fascination come from experience in machine coding or did this emerge from another exciting source?
A. Perhaps everything can be broken down to ones and zeroes. Things are, or they are not. I have programming experience so perhaps this helped influence me. I often take ‘time out’ just to sit and think. Several hours at a time when I can. I usually spend the time thinking about logical loops and the ‘why’ behind everything. I’ll start with a question that might be troubling me (e.g. what do I want?) and then I just keep asking myself “why?” until I either exhaust myself or work out a new idea. Perhaps this is not a healthy exercise at all, perhaps I am way off track to achieving whatever I’m meant to achieve from life, but I am fine with that. Things will work out in the end and although it might take me longer to get where I’m meant to go, I feel that I’ll get there eventually.
Q. You offer up some deep issues and yet delicately present some controversial ones, such as the existence of God and the Devil. How have those been received?
A. I am not religious and neither are my comics. God and Dman (the Devil) are representations of ideas. I have defined God as “an entity which is infinitely everything at the same time” and go from there. I have no way of proving its correctness, but it’s an assumption I can build on. The only thing any person can truly be sure of is that they themselves exist.
Q. Earlier this year, your initial design of your stick figures took shape (literally) and added on some weight. Was this due to overeating over the holidays or something else?
A. I was in fact planning to cover this in an upcoming comic. I have a real problem with the consistency of my human characters. God and Dman have remained pretty much unchanged since their first appearance but the humans have gone through all manner of transformation. I kind of like this because I feel like humans tend to experience identity crises and so should the humans of my comic series.
Q. What are some comics that best sum up what 1111 Comics are about?
A. This is a really hard question since, to me, 1111 is a journey which you can only make sense by starting at the very beginning at comic #1 and moving forward. To really appreciate 1111 comics, you need to read all the comics, especially the ones featuring God, Dman and humans. In regards to God and Dman, www.1111comics.me/comic/132 and www.1111comics.me/comic/103 are a great comparison of these two characters, while www.1111comics.me/comic/52 is one of my favorite comics for humans.
Q. Knowing that many folks could use a good refresher course in love and compassion, what overall lesson or idea are you trying to instill in your viewers through 1111 Comics?
A. The adage for 1111 is “Life and happiness. You’ll learn nothing here.” I have nothing to teach. I believe people should teach themselves because the lessons and learnings which impact us most are the ones we’ve discovered for ourselves. This is important, because we are all on a journey to discover how to be happy and I wouldn’t want anyone to think I know any firm truths. I don’t. Everyone has to work out their own path to happiness for themselves.
Q. What are some upcoming goals or plans you have for 1111 Comics that we can look forward to seeing?
A. I don’t have any goals for 1111. I enjoy making comics and sharing my ideas which is the reason 1111 comics exists. That being said I am working on some merchandise (finally) for 1111. Some shirts and plush toys can be expected in the next few months. Also, the Tim is Insane story series is something different and I hope to continue it, but I have been a bit slow in updating because it takes more time than a regular comic and sometimes I like to do non-comic activities on the weekend.
Q. Who have been your biggest comic influences and why?
A. Perry Bible Fellowship and Cyanide and Happiness were my first two comics and they help develop my love and appreciation of bite sized humor in comic form. I love the artistic simplicity and consistency of C&H which makes their humor easier to understand and more effective. There aren’t a whole bunch of uncessary details which are usally distracting and detract from a joke or message. PBF has a very celever and dark sense of humor which really appeals to me. The comics aren’t always obviously funny but require you to use a bit more imagination and empathy to appreciate. I love this, and think this is similar to how I try to structure 1111 comics.
Q. What has been the best piece of design or artistic advice that you have received? Additionally, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring comic artists who are new to the world of webcomics?
A. Keep it simple. Don’t distract your readers with unnecessary details. This is one thing I’ve heard from almost all artists, and I agree.
My advice for aspiring comic artists would be to do what you love, and don’t try and second guess what the masses want, but make sure you communicate your ideas in a way the most people will understand. If they don’t like your comics initially, as long as you stay the course, they will come around eventually. People don’t turn to new comic artists for more of the same, they want to be taught or shown something different, even if at first they don’t understand or appreciate it.
Q. Anything else you want to add?
A. For fans of 1111: Did anyone pick up on the fact that God’s eyes are 1-1 1-1? And when you look into them you can make a wish?
For my mum: you never wanted me to be an artist. Sorry mum. I love you.
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* Excerpt taken from Doreen Virtue’s “Healing With Angels”