Safe to say we didn’t predict Struthless69 to be the first Instagram account to make us misty-eyed in 2019.
But here we are – completely silent, staring vacantly into the distance after a sucker-punch to the heart from the unlikeliest of fists.
For the uninitiated, Campbell Walker is an Aussie Instagram cult-hero.
A prolific peddler of caustic cartoons and derisive diagrams, Struthless69 is the glorious final form of the doodles in every underachieving kid’s Year 12 textbook.
The content ranges from:
Heartfelt tributes to modern Australian iconography (read: durries, rack, bin chickens, the word ‘cunt’…)
Brutal social commentary:
And data-driven, ABS-worthy analysis of hyper-specific Australian demographics:
So when a new video popped up titled ‘BASIC PEOPLE (watch this video and your house will be full of ikea)’, it didn’t seem like a departure from the norm.
But what lay beneath was a rare, heartfelt venture into the sincere and mundane.
It’s a beautifully hand-drawn animation about a basic couple, Dave and Jess, who have basic jobs, and basic kids and a basic life.
But Walker’s usual incisive cynicism has been usurped by a touching embrace of the excruciatingly normal – ultimately leaving you floating somewhere between euphoria and melancholy.
We spoke to Campbell about the story behind the video and what prompted this new direction:
This latest video’s a bit of a change of pace from your usual Venn diagrams and illustrations, what made you want to shift gears?
Bit of boredom, bit of growing up. I really hate getting stuck making anything, so I try to experiment a lot. It’s the 3rd video in a series that I started last week on my YouTube. I have the least followers there, so it’s a good place to try new things.
I made something more honest: a video about quitting drugs… kinda. People responded really well, so I made two more with a similar tone. They’ve really excited me about the world beyond humour, so I’m gonna keep going.
What were you trying to say with the video and what triggered it?
It was triggered by me trying to close the loop on a narrative about Jack Johnson, and it snowballed from there. The Jack Johnson thing was triggered by me appropriating Coastal Mum culture, which was triggered by me not wanting to be a piece of shit anymore.
Jack Johnson felt like a good place to start in creating a more wholesome life.
The hand-drawn, flipbook-style works perfectly, talk us through the production process and the choices behind it?
I’m glad you liked that!
The illustrator Scott McCloud drew about this cartooning theory of universality: the fewer features you give a character, the more people can project themselves, and the people from their life onto it.
That’s (hopefully) what’s happened here.
I put the scribble sound effects in to make it feel like their life was being created in live time… which gives the ending a bit more power in my opinion.
How’s the response been to the video?
Really great! Lots of people saying that they were genuinely moved by it, which shocked me.
A lot of people saying it made them cry. It’s really given me faith in areas outside of satire. Quite a few people are saying that they feel inspired by this series, which is a feeling I never thought I’d deliver.
It’s been fun to change things up.
What’s the plan for 2019, can we expect more of this sort of content? Are there are any other formats you’re keen to experiment with?
Mostly video stuff this year. Videos that interrupt you somehow… documentaries, fables, essays – smaller stories that build up to a big point. That kinda thing.
Just trying as many new things as I can, really.