Three simple letters.
An endless abundance of meaning.
Too often, entertainment is confused for art. Art should never be entertaining. Art should reach into you and wrap itself around your intestines, it should make you vomit from the visceral punch, make you wish you’d never been born, make you yearn to erase everything and everyone and just become a pure and untouched bubble of authenticity and meaning.
I don’t believe that I created Ducky and Bob. I believe that I was just a conduit for something outside of myself, something in the universe that needed to be expressed. Since the day Ducky and Bob flowed through my fingertips and into the atmosphere, I have spent hours studying each panel, attempting to decipher truth. Why did the goddesses of art choose me as their channel? I have stopped eating and have eschewed natural light in an attempt to bring myself closer to understanding. I have gazed upon the moon, smoking endless cigarettes.
I have not smiled for days.
We open with a title card. I was tempted to abandon the notion of an introduction – why, in this world, must we put everything in a box? – but feared that without a proper framing device, Ducky and Bob would float listlessly on a breeze of mystification.
In the first frame we are introduced to Ducky and Bob. They exist in a spartan world, free of context. The white starkness they call home could be anywhere, at any time. Does it stretch on forever? Or are the walls closing in at the sides? These are questions that the viewer is forced to brood over, to eventually reach their own conclusions, as they stare into the soul of the moon, lit cigarette in hand.
We see Bob’s smile clearly hides an inner turmoil as he faces the harsh reality of unemployment. Is Bob a victim of the global recession? A victim of discrimination because he doesn’t have any legs? He makes light of his situation using “humour”, but it is impossible to ignore his internal struggle.
Despite Bob’s visible discomfort, Ducky continues the line of questioning. And in the second panel we see how dire things have become. “Something in an office”? No longer is Bob searching for career fulfilment, but is instead willing to take anything that he can find. Bob is in a desperate and vulnerable situation, suffering at the whims of a broken global system. And yet, Ducky remains expressionless. We must ask ourselves, who IS Ducky? What does he represent? Is he a symbol for staying above water, for continuing to float, even when the system beneath you changes imperceptibly? Is he the system itself? What IS a system?
The last panel evokes a mix of heartbreaking agony and quiet optimism, creating a clash of emotions that may make some viewers feel lightheaded. First, our hearts break for Bob. Without employment, rejected by the symbol of movement and change, Bob is stranded in a world that has moved on without him. Yet, we do not dwell on this sadness. We see the warmth in the sky behind him, reminiscent of when your neighbour turns on their outside light and the moon looks brighter. We see that he is still using “humour”, indicating he hasn’t given up yet, similar to when you are sure you have more cigarettes somewhere and so you keep rummaging.
I continue to fast, in the hopes that the goddesses of art and beauty speak through me again in another instalment of Ducky and Bob. But for now, I must leave you. The moon is waning, and its crescent form speaks to me, using only words that start with the letter C, but from several different languages, including some that don’t exist, or have possibly existed once, but have been forgotten in time, like the packet of cigarettes I am sure is somewhere down the side of the couch.