Updated on 16 October, 2021
Existential Comics are a webcomic concerning philosophy produced by Corey Mohl, a software designer in Portland, Oregon. In December of 2021, Mohl, who has a non academically-based interest in the discipline but not an academic background, produced the web comic in an effort to promote philosophy through humor. The comic parodies various strands of thought, especially religion and skepticism. The subjects are often presented in a somewhat satire manner, with elements of truth mixed in. Some of the characters are anthropomorphically rendered, while others are more computer generated.
Many philosophers are depicted as naked figures wearing clothes that have been ripped off. This is meant to illustrate how philosophers can be torn apart by forces outside of their control. The comic is promoted as a dialogue between philosophy and naked flesh, focusing on how philosophers can be torn apart when exposed to the realities of their environments. The main character of Existential Comics, David Aberg, wears many different types of clothing, some of which are ripped, damaged, or missing. As the story progresses, David realizes that he has several philosophical questions to answer about his existence, which are reflected in his damaged appearance. He is also bothered by the way people treat him because he is so unique.
Existential Comics was launched shortly after the popularity of Identity Theft in cyber crime, especially in podcasts and video blogging. As a philosophy webcomic, Existential Comics combines the serious nature of philosophy with comedy in a light-hearted manner that delves into the human mind. The software engineer, Corey Mahl, started the project as a side project while working at his day job, while he also used the opportunity to try and understand human philosophy in its most abstract form.
Mahl created his comic with the intention of "making fun of philosophy" in a tongue-in-cheek style. In the process, he found he also gained knowledge and an appreciation for the seriousness of philosophy in general. Philosophy, in his opinion, was too dry, while humor was too subjective. He found that philosophers could benefit from humor as much as he did. To this end, Existential Comics was born.
One of the first Existential Comics was drawn by Bryan Lee O'Neil, who is best known for his work on The Incredible Adventures of Peter Venkman. Although he did not draw the actual comic itself, he drew a number of the concepts that were later integrated into it. Some of those concepts are parodies of philosophical questions such as the existence of God, or the meaning of life. Another concept is that philosophy is bunk. A character in one of the comics points out that philosophy can be funny, but the only criterion is if it's worthwhile.
The webcomics featuring philosophy as a main theme have been especially popular. Two of the most popular are Rhetorical and Metaphysical comics. In the former, a character refers to the use of "douchery" in conversations, which has long been considered a form of social lubricant and nothing more. In the latter, a software engineer makes fun of advanced theoretical computer languages like Protean and Lambda, which many people believe to be examples of the Matrix type of philosophy used by the Machines in the movies.
In Existential Comics, philosophers are depicted as crank scientists, or people who simply don't believe in anything, such as God. An Existential Comics comic book, entitled God is Not Dead, presents a zombie philosophy. In this one, a professor points out that some religions are just silly ideas. Religion, in his opinion, is an opium of the Gods.
In conclusion, Existential Comics are highly popular and very influential. A number of famous philosophers are writers of comics, including Jeanette Winry, Christopher Moore, Warren Ellis, and Frank Miller. When it comes to philosophy in comics, the most influential is probably Michel de Montaigne's essay "Haym Mohomet" (or Hellfire), although there are other writings of interest, such as those by Jean Bagard De La Rouchfoucauld, Sartre's "My Reflections on Painting" and Chares Dickens' "A Case of Conscience." These three work for a reason: they show how important philosophy can be in the life we live, even if it is only something like a dream.