Anders Nilsen and the Philosophy of Birds

About ten years have passed since I first stumbled upon Anders Nilsen’s Big Questions series in a little indie gift shop in Providence, Rhode Island. The comics were just these thin, xeroxed booklets back then, and the drawings could hardly have been more simple: two small birds in a panel, a curved line to mark the horizon.

Nilsen says he didn’t take drawing comics too seriously in those early days — saw them as more of a relief from the elaborate paintings and installation work he was doing at the time. Even so: I remember how eagerly I flipped through those first couple of volumes in the store, smitten with the juxtaposition between cute little birds and their strangely poignant existential musings. These were birds who were trying to figure shit out — about whether there was a higher purpose for their existence, whether it was really possible to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Maybe I dug the comics because, well, I was trying to figure a lot of the same shit out myself.

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