Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reviews: Murray & Bo and Blink: And Now, This...

It's time for another one of those posts where I discuss a small-press comic I picked up at the SPACE convention earlier this year in Columbus. Or in this case, two comics:

Murray and Bo by Michael Carroll is an "8 hour and 4 minute comic", which means it was totally written and drawn in 8 hours and 4 minutes. And it isn't short, either. It comes in at 24 pages of story! So then you must think "it's just scratchy art and no story". Well...Michael's art style isn't overly complex, it is true. BUT...the art does an excellent job telling the story and the story itself is extremely clever and entertaining. I'd say you can't get a better entertainment per minute of creation ratio anywhere!

Specifically, the story is about a bird that works as an air conditioner and the snake that hires him. That sounds rather weird. And it is. But...it gets weirder. It seems the snake didn't know about tying off to an anvil. I'd think this would be obvious, but somehow he missed this step. So instead of staying home, Bo (that's the snake) goes on an adventurous flight with Murray (that's the bird, of course). All hilarity ensues. And I'm not kidding. This is a very funny book. Just one of those stories that works perfectly though if you pitched the idea no one would believe it would work. But trust me, it does! So get a copy today!

Blink: And Now, This... is, by contrast a very serious comic about a very serious subject. Author and artist Max Ink takes his popular characters from his Blink comic (search my history and you'll find I've discussed them before) and uses them to tackle the issue of racism. This comic takes place shortly after the murders of nine people in a black church in South Carolina. Blink, Hank, and Sam react to the shootings with different levels of  anger, despair, and hope. Of course, the comic can only scratch the surface of the horrible problem of racism that still rears its head even in our modern, advanced world. But it is still a worthwhile discussion, and the comic should make anybody think about this world in which we live, how we treat each other, and how we can make it better.

Rather than discuss the specific conversations in the comic, I'd like to continue the discussion with my own thoughts. I know this world, and the country in which I live, are not perfect. There are a lot of people out there who seem to find any reason: race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. to hate each other. However, I do believe the world is a better place to live today than ever before. We have broken down barriers and at least tried to destroy legal discrimination. I am always reminded that my mother went to school in a segregated system in Alabama, and just a couple generations later such a practice is unfathomable by most students. So we should remember the past and how far we've come, yet not excuse the past but understand it. Then we should strive to make our present better so that in the future out progeny will look back and see how far we've come since our time.

Final thought: when I decided to combine these two reviews, I thought the contrast between the comics was interesting, and I wanted to do them together so as not to put off writing. However, though I love and recommend them both, I'm not sure they belong together. So I'm sorry if this offends anyone or seems inappropriate. Comics can be light entertainment or they can make you think about important topics. It's what makes the medium, especially as it pertains to self-published comics, so amazing to me!

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