Here at GoComics HQ, the music of Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) has played through many a set of headphones since his 2012 album, "Fear Fun." So when he cited The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes as his two biggest influences in a 2015 Pitchfork interview, it was definitely a source of pride. In a recent interview with Exclaim!, Tillman expanded on his love for Calvin and how his upcoming album title, "Pure Comedy," relates back to Bill Watterson’s mischievous, imaginative character.
"Fa. Down to, like, really intense anthropomorphizing toys and stuff. I was sort of depressed in the same way that I think Calvin is, and I just sort of felt like everybody else seems to be able to do this shit that's being asked of them, seemingly effortlessly, and I just cannot get it together," Tillman told Exclaim!.
"I wasn't cruel like Calvin was, but I was just always in trouble. I had this really hyperactive imagination, and I really just liked to be alone. There's a philosophical worldview in that strip, and I think one of the main messages is that most people are lying to themselves. I mean, children are just these little hypocrisy-finding machines, a lot of the time. They're incredibly sensitive to hypocrisy or petty injustices, or you know — it's why kids are always screaming that something's not fair. And I was about as intense an example of that as you're likely to find."
"When you look at the title [of 'Pure Comedy'], you can look at that title and it would be easy to say, like, 'What a shallow, dismissive, cynical summation of human life.' Or you look at it, and you can, I think, be liberated… I find great liberation in the absurdity of all this. Because that means that you can make your own meaning. And I really think that, that is just the mandate for every human. And that's what Calvin does in that comic strip."
"Pure Comedy" will be released on Sub Pop on April 7, and several tracks and videos are online now. And Father John, if your next tour takes you back through Kansas City, we’ll make sure to keep a few paperback Calvin collections handy for reading material on the tour bus. Just hit us up!
*Editor's Note: Tillman's comics love even extends to his "Pure Comedy" album cover, which features art by The New Yorker cartoonist Edward Steed!