Dust Motes by Kevin Budnik

Written and drawn by Kevin Budnik
Published by Yeti Press

Everyone has problems, and everyone deals with things in different ways. Some of us talk about it, some of us drink, and some of us (probably quite a few, given who I’m writing this for) make comics. It’s no news that comics can be incredibly cathartic. Creation is a healthy thing - the act of keeping a journal comic can often be more helpful to the creator than the comic itself. Creating something every day, even if it’s not something anyone else is going to see, helps you stay sane, keep yourself content and lucid and in a good place in general.

Kevin Budnik’s previous work, Our Ever Improving Living Room, taught me this and inspired me to try it for myself (which has been working out pretty well). He recently followed that up with Dust Motes, a two volume work collecting his comics from a particular time in his life.

Kevin Budnik’s work is almost exclusively autobiographical journal comics. Dust Motes contains strips from the time that Kevin was going through therapy to help deal with his anxiety and disordered eating. Being such a personal topic, it is somewhat less well documented than the year in which he was creating Our Ever Improving Living Room, but it still offers a glimpse into parts of a person’s life that we don’t see and rarely think of. Kevin’s art offers little in the way of realism. However, his cartoon style captures the essence of the people it depicts and the locations they’re in (despite being full of bendy limbs and beady eyes), and seems to fit the nature of the story rather well. I feel as though if the book was drawn more realistically, it would have been too heavy, becoming difficult to read and harder to relate to. Thanks to Kevin’s particular style, the book is able to address what it needs to in the exact way it should be.

When you are dealing with depression, anxiety, disordered eating, or any sort of such conditions, it is very easy to forget that you are not alone. Comics are an incredible thing for many reasons, one of them (and one of the reasons I fell in love with the medium) is that they can provide what you need to know and hear when you need it. Comics let you know that you’re not alone. That you can do whatever you set your mind to. You can fix things and be the person you want to be if you just keep trying, because there are people in this incredible community who feel how you feel and do how you do and want to help you.

Kevin Budnik’s work is incredibly important to me for this reason. His stories are personal, they can be hard to read, but they are also the kind of thing that I know I need to see. They are the kind of thing that I read when I’m having a hard time and I need to remember that I’m not alone. A perfect example of the power of comics, both on the creator and the audience.

Whether or not you deal with anxiety or anything of the like, Dust Motes is the kind of book you should read. It allows you to see the mindset and point of view of a person dealing with that, providing a much needed reference point for those who don’t have to deal with such things. Kevin’s relatability and willingness to talk about his personal issues give the reader a look at anxiety (that can easily be applied to depression, bipolar disorder, etc) that needs to happen more often – it shows the reader that it’s not about him being sad or scared or just not wanting to eat, it is a sickness and can only be treated like a sickness. I thoroughly recommend Kevin Budnik’s work, in general, and you should check out Dust Motes as soon as you can.

Dust Motes is available online from Yeti Press.