Author David Bobis has just released his latest book — a collection of humorous illustrations that is irreverent, in-your-face and (sometimes) unashamedly crude. While he knows his brand of humour is not for everyone, this articulate and witty author feels that in these tough times, being able to elicit some chuckles is totally a win. 

SINGAPORE (June 5): The idea for the recently released graphic novel Everyday A**holes came to award-winning author David Bobis — who writes under the pen name Dean Blake — while he was doing “something really wacky, like meditating.” The Filipino-born writer, who is based in the Australian city of Brisbane, says he had been contemplating all the crazy things he had done in his life. After meditating he would look at his Instagram account and think: “Why not do something different?”

Having already released a well-received collection of short stories Surface Children in 2013, Bobis wanted to find a way to shake things up a bit. So, why not a graphic novel depicting fun characters inspired by real-life conversations with over 160 sketches, he thought?

“The traditional author would post, you know, maybe blurbs of their writing, interesting photos, meals they’re eating,” he tells Options in a recent interview. “What if I drew a completely random picture? So I did, and it was a really bad drawing of Kanye West standing on top of three smiley-faces.”

The next few drawings were simple line drawings, spiced with a witty observation or quip. One was of US President Donald Trump, holding a tennis racket and about to “serve” the Earth into the sun. Another was of a writer “judging people from the comfort of his MacBook”. These were simple line drawings, cartoonish and almost child-like. Yet, those bad drawings got quite a bit of attention, Bobis says. People found it funny somehow, something the author says he still finds baffling.

“People were hitting me up, saying my drawings were funny and asking what drugs I’m on — which I wasn’t,” he says, laughing. Encouraged, he kept on with his drawings, which were mostly satirical, tongue-in-cheek observations of people. He says his sketches are cheeky and poked fun at the annoying people we encounter every day.

Other drawings, Bobis adds, are provocative pieces based on topics like immigration and politics. No matter the inspiration, he kept on drawing over the next few years, improving as he went along. “If you look back at my Instagram, they were really bad drawings, but it started improving and growing from there, and it started escalating. [Eventually] I thought, why don’t I just do a book based on these drawings; especially during these dark, sad times, I wanted to do something cheeky, because people seem to laugh at my drawings.”

Bobis released Everyday A**holes in May, a book containing some of his earliest and most popular online drawings which he describes as illustrations for “adults who enjoy a dry sense of humour, and are not easily offended.” His work may irk some people but Bobis says the goal of this graphic novel is to make people laugh. Even he knows his brand of humour is not for everyone.

He says: “These drawings are based on the a**holes within all of us — myself included — but I figured, instead of taking [ourselves] too seriously, why don’t we just laugh about our imperfections? You can’t please everyone. Certainly, my humour can’t please everyone, but I am fine with that. Not every joke is funny to everyone.” What is more important to Bobis is to be honest with whatever he puts out there — be it a book of drawings or short stories. This is something he has learnt, over time and over the years he has been writing and drawing.

In fact, Bobis says he has been doing this almost all his life. A short story he wrote as part of an elective class in school won the third prize in a nation-wide short fiction writing competition, and he had not stopped writing since. He used to run a blog called Always Eighteen, which contained vignettes and fictional stories about his life and the people around him. Always Eighteen then became Generation End, where he posts both fiction and nonfiction short stories and his musings on life to a sizeable following.

“The stories that come most easily to me, without much planning, were consequently the most successful stories for me and that have become the most popular. They were the most brutally honest stories from my life. Over time as an author, honesty has really stuck with me and become more real and apparent in what I do,” he says.

Bobis continues: “It has really put a mirror in my face. A lot of people find trouble being honest with themselves and others, and the more honest I am with myself, the more I discover who I am and the more I discover the truth about people and situations in life,” he adds. “In the end, I feel that if someone creates something to follow a trend or to be popular, people can tell. And eventually the piece of writing or art they create won’t last very long. Things created with honesty are the ones that stand out and break through barriers.”

So what does he aim to achieve with Everyday A**holes? Just to make people laugh, it seems. “People need to laugh,” he continues. “And hopefully that deep, cynical nature within people would come out a little bit and they would laugh at themselves.”