Looking for happiness in too much solitude – Hermit by Andrew Waugh
by Andrew Waugh
Just 22 pages long, and telling such a simple story – essentially one man’s experience of turning his back on modern society – with such simple artwork, it would be easy to overlook something like Hermit and merely skate over it.
But doing that would be to miss out on a delightful little comic.
Hermit tells of one man feeling completely overwhelmed and disconnected by and from his life in the city, where everyone encroaches upon his space, maddening noise and meaningless words are all around:
(noise, noise, noise, noise, click – I love the way Waugh gets across his characters desperate internal torment and that one moment of clarity – from Hermit by Andrew Waugh)
So he packs up and marches into the wilderness, finds a cave and settles down to live the peaceful life of a hermit. The beard grows, time passes and our Hermit discovers that his mind, so used to drowning out the noise of civilisation, begins to fill in noise where there was none before. Will he go mad? Or will he find some inner peace, possibly even a happy middle ground?
Waugh’s art is very minimalist, as you’ll obviously be able to tell from the lovely cover above and the art accompanying this review. But it’s minimalism with a lovely rounded style, and that adds warmth to each panel. He does everything he needs to with so few lines perfectly communicating both the sense of claustrophobia and discontent with civilisation and the joys of discovering the isolation and wilderness of the countryside. But more than that, it also manages to effortlessly control time, with a pacing that slows your reading down beautifully to fully appreciate the passage of time.
(Four pages from Hermit by Andrew Waugh – a simple, but beautifully effective way to show us the peace, tranquility, inner peace and eventual realisation that this much isolation may be a little too much)
It’s not wordless, but it feels rather like it is – the majority of the words in Hermit function to create atmosphere rather than meaning – whether it’s the background, ever present white noise of urban conversation that the Hermit is trying to escape from or the worrying signs of oncoming madness and evidence that he’s been on his own for far too long when the rocks, trees and animals start to fill in those missing noises of civilisation in his head.
Hermit may be small, it may be slight, but it’s rather lovely for it. In it’s way it says so much about modern life and the way we try to find happiness, often not realising that it may not be drastic action we need, but just a smile or a friendly hello that would do the trick.