Hello I am a laser

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Late last year I was following a lot of reporting on ADHD, and like everyone else, wondering if I have it. A lot of the telltale symptoms, especially the ones shown by our space laser, are really relatable to me.

But for others, including friends, family, and co-workers of those with ADHD, these same symptoms can be inscrutable and very stressful to live with. I heard about some of these experiences from an ADHD podcast which had a call-in segment full of these callers.

I thought about parents in particular, undiagnosed their entire lives, spread so thin across the endless demands on their time and energy. And for all their sacrifice, their kids seeing fatigue, frustration and emotional unavailability before they can see love.

I couldn’t help but imagine a vicious cycle where the awareness of being a burden to others caused guilt for ADHD sufferers, making their condition worse, and in turn causing more pain, and on and on it goes.

Did any of that make it into the comic? That may have been up to me, once upon a time, but now it’s up to you!

Production notes

Character designs: Our main character doesn’t have a particular inspiration, I just looked at lots of sci-fi cannons and WW2-era naval guns and turrets (and now that I think of it, the tip of the laser is an obvious Warhammer 40K lascannon). I ended up choosing something round because it was easy to draw repeatedly and quite cute and sympathetic for heavy artillery. My earliest sketches had eyes and a mouth, with the laser as a nose, or tried to fit a face inside the darkness of the gun barrel.

But in the end, I found that the ✨Magic of Comics✨ allowed me to give the laser some “facial expressions” and “body language” even though it doesn’t have a face or a body.

The aliens had two main sources of inspiration. Their bodies are inspired by Space Invaders, as is the general concept of aliens swarming a single gun that can only shoot one thing at a time. Their faces take after Dragon Quest enemies, inspired by the recent passing of Akira Toriyama (RIP).

I even considered setting the whole comic on tiny King Kai-style planet, but I think it would have been beyond my artistic abilities:

Production time

I wrote the entire poem and storyboards during one plane trip late last year, and then sat on this one for a while. When I started drawing the actual pages, I tried to follow my own advice from my previous comic ‘Draw a line, make a start’ and not dwell too much on it, focussing on getting it done. Ironically, the result was far fewer actual lines – I sidestepped them as much as possible with shadows and blocks of tone. I got it done, so the approach must have worked!

Coming up

I’m glad I got it done because some major life changes are coming that may put me out of action for a while. I’m hoping I get the time to keep making comics though – including comics about those life changes if any good ideas come to mind.