Writer / Artist
Cyberman graphic novel review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Myriad Editions - 978-1-8383860-2-3
  • Release date: 2022
  • UPC: 9781838386023
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Veronika Muchitsch won Myriad’s 2020 First Graphic Novel competition and Cyberman is the result. It concerns fifty year old Finnish man Ari Kivikangas who documented his very ordinary life on the now defunct There was genuinely nothing special about Ari’s day to day life, and the graphic novel is adjunct of the website, offering voyeuristic glimpses via 24/7 webcams, picking and choosing which moments to amplify.

Given the timing as a post-covid release, and because the narrative slots in so neatly, the instant conclusion is to take Cyberman as feeding into the isolation felt by so many as infection swept around the world. However, Ari lived his life online and died of cancer before covid hit. He’s always viewed through his cameras, instituting a form of voyeurism, even at times when he’s not visible and his cat the only life present. Some aspects of his wider life and beliefs are disclosed as he communicates with subscribers to his site, some rude and offensive, but most genuinely interested in him.

We watch Ari watching a documentary on Miley Cyrus, or Mars, or getting out of his bed, which is in sight of the cameras, and walking to the computer. It’s an aggregation of monotony, occasionally brightened by Muchitsch’s message interactions with him, these under the alias of lb_jeffries, the name taken from the character played by James Stewart in the film Rear Window. He answers her queries, claiming there’s little point to his stream without honesty, yet there’s also a sense of being lost and desperate. Ari’s lack of money concerns him, and he naively hopes one day someone will write a book about him and make him rich.

Muchitsch adds her own quirky little touches, such as recording a time an insect runs over the camera, or periods when the site is offline, and she will occasionally adjust the camera view. It’s clever, well drawn and there is a narrative leading to greater revelations over the final third, one section interestingly soundtracked by speculation that we’re all living in a simulated reality.

For all of that, Cyberman is likely to remain niche appeal. Just as not enough people were captivated by Ari’s website to enable him to monetise it, anyone who’s not entranced by the idea of someone sharing their mundane life online at all hours is unlikely to be captivated by Cyberman either. It’s not a graphic novel with a plot heading toward a resolution, but a quiet contemplation of a life. In the form of an epilogue Muchitsch clarifies her process, and explains her relationship to his streaming.