The first time I discovered HTMLFlowers, a.k.a. Grant Gronewold, it was from his close friend, cartoonist Simon Hanselmann, in 2015. They’re both based in Melbourne, where Gronewold and his family relocated when he was 12 after being denied medical care in America. In 2015 we spoke briefly at a comic book fair in Brooklyn, where he was selling his and Hanselmann’s work.
Gronewold can’t make it to the fair this year, though, because he has Cystic Fibrosis and is “hospitalized as fuck,” he explained to The FADER over email. He’s 29 with a life expectancy of 35, about to spend his 5th month in the hospital just this year. He’s also releasing an album later this year called Chrome Halo, about his experience with disability, which he’s announcing today via The FADER with a moving video for the record’s gorgeous title track, which features Melbourne singer Banoffee. Paired with the video’s moody shots and fluorescent-lit phone footage, “Chrome Halo” communicates the frustration, and strength, of being chronically ill.
“When you go in and out of hospital as much as me, Gronewold wrote to The FADER, you’re not the same anymore. Being alone changes you, people recognize you less and less, you feel love less and less. There’s a type of round, chrome lighting fixture on most of the lights in hospital — a chrome halo that I take with me when I leave. We made the video simple. Dusty [the director] visited me in hospital. I had a lot of hospital footage on my phone and Martha [Brown, a.k.a. Banoffee] grabbed the phone a few times to film me. Everything else was filmed at my house. We didn’t know what we were doing in a lot of ways but we knew how it should feel.”
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