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“I don’t want the comic book to be beautiful”: interview with the creator of oil superhero Tyumen

Tyumen Gosha Elaev became famous by inventing the oil superhero Tyumen. The crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the publication of the third volume of Tyumen is now ending. Yegor Mikhailov talked with Gosha about his comic strip, his release from isolation and Siberian punk.
“Is Tyumen as a character a dark version of yourself?”

– I would not say that it is dark. You know, I held master classes with schoolchildren and with adults, at which I gave them the task to come up with their own superhero. And I realized that this thing is absolutely healing: you kind of do an abstract thing, come up with some kind of hero, his weaknesses, his superpowers, a suit – and unconsciously at the same time endow him with your personal problems, strengths and weaknesses. It turns out an unconscious version of you, as you truly see yourself, without realizing it. Therefore, I wanted Tyumen to be the real me, not what I dream of being, but who I really am. I can’t say whether the experiment was successful or not, but at least I felt easier. You know, when when you talked to someone – a therapeutic thing.

– There is no semi-mystical feeling that this piece of your personality begins to live its own life?

“This is my favorite part of the process.” Because when you lock yourself at home and draw comics alone with yourself – this is one thing. But for everything to develop further, you need to take your book and go with people to it. Arrange meetings with readers, go to festivals, conduct master classes. You have to go out of isolation for all to see – and at that moment some kind of shamanism begins. Because this whole story about how to come up with your own superhero and make books about him on your knee, wildly inspires people. People from Khabarovsk write to me, they write that their comics inspired me to pull myself together and find work or organize a local comic club, or go on a trip, or get a tattoo. It’s a mystery for me how this happens, what people find in this, where this spark erupts, but I really like it.

I come to a city, meet completely strangers, tell them for half an hour that I am sitting in Tyumen and draw a comic strip about an oil superhero – and then for some reason people go to cuddle. At first it confused me. For a long time I was a very closed person, I had a fear of public speaking. But after some time I got used to it and began to have fun. I realized that this is what involves me, makes me continue to do this. Nowhere else have I received such emotions and are unlikely to find it anywhere.

According to Gosha Elaev, Tyumen somehow appeared – a former simple journalist, and now a superhero who draws strength from oil.

– And the scene of the comic book – the Macabre version of Tyumen – is due to the fact that you live in this city? Why is this, for example, not Moscow or not your native Tobolsk?

– I like Tyumen, I consciously chose her to live and work. I lived in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but the larger cities seem to me too big, too noisy, too distracting. And small cities, such as Tobolsk, where I grew up, seem to me too dead. It’s difficult to do something in them, it’s difficult to knock someone out for something. And Tyumen is just the golden mean: there, on the one hand, there is not so much noise, not so much competition, but at the same time there are people with whom you can invent something and put it into practice.

“Tyumen” is also an ode to Tyumen, an ode to how good it is, on the one hand, and bad on the other.
In Tyumen there are many stories that no one knows about, but which you want to share with others. It has its own atmosphere associated with history, with the people who lived there. I wanted to compliment the city in which I live. I don’t know if people see this as a compliment, but for me it’s a compliment.

– But this style of underground comics reminiscent of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” – where does it come from?

– Tyumen is essentially a story about me and about an economical way to make art. Because I draw it in my free time after work, when I’m already tired. All the stories there are based on personal experiences: I decided that I was too lazy to come up with some incredible plot moves, and I would do everything for myself. I don’t have much money to buy expensive materials, print comic books in expensive bindings on expensive paper, so it is always deliberately printed rough.

I have no mature art style. I just try everything that comes to my hand. Because I read a lot of things, inevitably fall under the influence and try to copy something, transfer it to Siberian soil. We didn’t have any school – you can take on anything and watch how it takes root. It’s like throwing stones at a wall and watching which sticks. What a stupid metaphor.

And on top of that, I don’t want him to be beautiful. I filled my hand in drawing faces and all sorts of objects, but when I start drawing comics, I understand that I do not want everything to look pleasant.

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