Joshua Hale Fialkov

Purveyor of sheer awesomeness.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is the Harvey, Eisner, and Emmy Award nominated writer of graphic novels, animation, video games, film, and television, including:

THE LIFE AFTER, THE BUNKER, PUNKS, ELK'S RUN, TUMOR, ECHOES, KING, PACIFIC RIM, THE ULTIMATES, I, VAMPIRE, and JEFF STEINBERG CHAMPION OF EARTH. He's also written for NBC's CHICAGO MED and SYFY's upcoming INCORPORATED.

Photograph by Heidi Ryder

Ego, Super Ego, Id, and Counter Ego

or, How I Over-Analyze Punks, a comic about four guys setting each other on fire and punching each other in the nuts.

I had a long intellectual conversation with my manager about Punks today. He has a great knack for finding a greater depth to what I do then I ever really touch on. He’s also a real ball breaker in negotiations, but that’s beside the point.

So, one of the things he gave me to chew over was the idea of Ego, Super Ego, and Id. This pretty successfully covers three of the four main characters of the book, (and for that matter, just about every sitcom character structure there’s ever been.) But, we have one piece that doesn’t fit.

Ego, is that rational middle ground, trying to balance pleasure with survival, rationality with living a satisfied life. In Punks, that’s Abe. He’s the emotional center of the book, his whole thing is chewing over the right and wrong, the real and unreal, and while not necessarily always deciding properly, his decisions come from a place that is at the very least balanced. For those unfamiliar, using Seinfeld, he's the Jerry.

Super Ego is Dog, the self-doubting, self-hating, angry young man. He serves as that voice in the back of your head saying “You’re not good enough, and everybody’s on to you.” Again, to Seinfeld, he's the George.

Id is Skull. Skull is pure sensation. The pleasure in violence, the lack of interest in anyone other himself, and a temper that’s only matched by his need to feel in a very guttural sense. He is what he appears, and does what you’d expect (although, the uses he finds for duct tape are pretty remarkable, if I do say so myself.) So, now, and maybe this is a stretch, in Seinfeldian, he's the Elaine.

So, that’s all your Freudian labels applied, and yet we’re left with Fist (or, our Kramer). He’s the guy in the Mentos ads. He’s not particularly interested in where he’s going or what’s happening around him, and because of that, he tends to always come out, if not on top, at least better off than the rest. So, for the sake of this conversation, I’m looking at him as the Counter Ego. He goes against both Super Ego and Id, neither filled with rage nor self-doubt, and, further, has virtually no interest in figuring out which option is best. He simply is. And that’s why he succeeds.

Punks, as a book, is about a world that shits on you. We live in a time where we’re constantly attacked by world events, from the crush of gas prices to a whole generation sent off to a war with a purpose, at the very least, that’s unclear. In the comic, this comes across as a positively surreal wash of constant insanity that never quite manages to get the boys out of their self-obsessed funk. So, in theory, all the comedy comes from how these four parts of the mind deal with it.

And lots of groin punching.