It’s merely a coincidence that this 40th Dragon Comic publishes on the day on which the world marks my 40th trip around the sun. I assure you that this has no bearing on my maturity level. I do like how this arc comes sort of full circle, from satisfaction with art, to dissatisfaction with art, to depression about art, to straight up depression, to comedy about depression, and back to satisfaction with art.
There’s something classically right about black humor (thus, Dragon holds a copy of Hamlet, one of the best examples of gallows humor, in panel 1) because as long as we can laugh at our terror, our pain, and our uncertainty about life, we know that these things have not yet consumed us. When Hamlet fools with Yorick’s skull in the graveyard, it gives him, at last, the presence of mind to consider his own inevitable death while stirring in him the sensations of life. Ophelia’s death, and the clowning around it, spurs him on to the death and violence of the play’s conclusion. We all die, so why not keep merry? Whether or not Hamlet avenges himself on Claudius, he and Claudius and everyone else will die, like his Yorick, like his father, like Ophelia. Love cannot save us from death, but humor can save us from fear.
I’m 40. I’m mortal. I’m going to die. But until then, I’m going to laugh. Even when I’m depressed, I’m going to laugh.