It was 2000-something. Sometime in the early part, I think? The most important thing is that it was not Now, it was Then. Let’s live in Then.
Anyway, it was (probably) the early 2000s. A new thing was sweeping the internet: Flash cartoons that people just...created. And put online for us to see. For free. There were lions and tigers. There was Saladfingers. There was hypothermia.
But among my favorites was a depressed 19th-century philosopher and his best frenemy, a hot-pink helium-filled balloon: Strindberg & Helium. I remember watching the episode "Sulfur and Iron" like it was yesterday.
Black, as is my need. Bleeding, as is my heart.
I am doing very little research for this, because I wanted to talk about it like I remember it. Like we all remember it. I wish to be stuck in that moment of time forever. That moment that I first heard that high-pitched squeal, HEEEELIUM. Based on an actual Swedish philosopher, the series was created and voice-acted by James Brawley and Erin Bradley Perkins, and directed and animated by Eun-Ha Paek.
Most episodes were Strindberg waxing very depressing philosophic and Helium accompanying his monologues as a bizarre, hyper pigmented hype-man.
At the end of the first episode (episodes which are all on Youtube oh my god be right back), a group of children come to ask Herr Strindberg what’s wrong.
“My soul,” he breathes out deeply, his face an illustrated daguerreotype set against a mustard yellow couch, “is empty.”
“Emptyyyyyyy!” Helium echoes, like a small child delighted by the nothingness of life.
Know that feel, bro.