“Awesome Future: Stories of Victorious Action” is a book that forces you to think and see differently for the length of its 68 pages, then leaves you inspired to live a more conscious, natural and centered existence.
The book’s author Robnoxious is a lifelong punk who values his friends, romantic partners, peace and the free feeling he gets from riding a bike. The book’s stories center on these ideas and build on their associated values.
This comic zine alternates between different types of page layouts and styles for each story, including some illustrated stories, one cut-and-paste-style narrative and many traditional comics. I appreciate the pages filled with handwritten script and particularly like the unmistakable markers of his style, such as an X for each period and all i’s dotted with a full O.
It’s whimsical, reminiscent of notes I would pass with friends in school, and these details add a note of playfulness that hangs above the serious and sincere nature of many of the personal stories. It makes those tales feel as if they’re coming directly from a friend who wants you to know they’re okay.
“Awesome Future” tackles Robnoxious’ experience with Zen meditation and Buddhism, how he came to want, achieve and work on maintaining a peaceful mind — including a trip to California to train with visiting monks. He describes the joy of finding a piano and making music with his friends. He gets lost in the Alaskan woods after dark without a working flashlight and finds ways to overcome his natural, encroaching fear of wild animals in his path. He reaffirms the idea that people should be open and ask for what they want, physically, in a relationship, while being respectful of people’s boundaries.
With each story, his message is clearly understood, whether or not you have a frame of reference for the message. At one point he makes a case for crouching on a toilet seat to poop, rather than sitting directly on the stool, and by the end of that piece it was surprisingly easy to see why his choice makes sense, as a viable option the Westernized reader, accustomed to porcelain toilets, might never have thought of.
“Awesome Future” has a kind of logic that might not make sense to you directly, for your life, but it lays out ideas about a life others live, and lets you easily appreciate why anyone would want to live this way. The book inspires the reader to keep an open mind, change their attitude, and possibly change their life.
The most important story in the book for me, though, recounted the day he had his vasectomy. The story leads us through his decision to go through with the procedure, describes his partner’s past abortions, addresses his inability to afford a child he already fathered, acknowledges the pro-life voices that meet him at the door of the hospital and through one person’s experience manages to discuss major issues of the family planning debate.
While the book centers on joy and peace and moving toward what you want, there is some darkness too. The author is quick to admit when he’s angry about something — including when he’s harassed at the clinic by protestors who try to talk him out of his planned vasectomy — and there is a moment that chilled me a bit too when a police helicopter hovers weirdly above the author’s cabin in the story “Maxx’s Big Day.”
The book acknowledges there are real reasons why a person might let their monkey brain have control and spin their anxieties together obsessively, letting worry overcome the mind. It also balances this issue with its answer: finding happiness with your partner, having new experiences with your friends and focusing and calming your mind are all solutions to living a better, more peaceful life.
“Awesome Future” is a black and white comic zine with a full-color cover, published pamphlet-style by Microcosm Publishing. You can buy the book on a sliding scale, starting at $4, from Microcosm Publishing’s own website. Read more content from Robnoxious on his blog.