Something For The Weekend: ‘Black Mirror In Comic Book Form’ – This Nightmare Kills Fascists

by Olly MacNamee

It’s good to see anyone tackling politics through comics, and so I welcomed this particular Kickstarter-funded original graphic novel once I’d heard about it. Edited by Eric Palicki and Matt Miner, this is a horror comic of sorts, but with a political and social bent. And, there is no stage more horrific at the moment than global politics and particularly the divisions in America brought to the forefront thanks to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But, it’s  also part satire too; Black Mirror in comic book form by a variety of contributors with some of the real horror being created by existing problems we face. Problems like rape, addiction and the growing gap between the have and have nots and a seemingly carefree attitude to the world’s ever growing inequalities.
Arguably these could be called ‘hot button’ topics, but they aren’t. They are the same social, political, and economic issues we’ve faced since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution when we became units of consumption ripe for exploitation, rather than producers ourselves. And we should never shirk away from discussing them through any art form, or forum. Art is expressionistic and comics are the perfect medium for socio-political discourse. I mean, what was The Yellow Kid, if not a voice of the immigrant underclasses in New York City at the turn of the century? No room in comic for politics? We wouldn’t even have comics if it wasn’t for politics!
The 20th century with its successive right-leaning governments have only passed laws allowing those wealthy few to benefit more and more while we are all kept in our place by sports and mindless celebrity drivel. The platform upon which Palicki and Miner allow others to express their anger, fears and worries is one I applaud.
But, I digress.

Many of these tales can read like revenge fantasies against the kind of bigots and bullies many of us have encountered and suffered under. Maybe it was a form of catharsis to produce these black and white strips, which is fine by me, but I have no doubt the creators involved are all of a similar mind, as many in the creative arts are. But then again, maybe the world should be run by artists, writers and musicians rather than.. Oh, wait. America did that already with Actor/President Ronnie Reagan. I’ll take it back.
This is a valuable book to have produced and I do hope that it doesn’t simply land in the hands of the already converted, such as myself. But, even if it does, many of the stories are riveting, gory and startling. With humour ,too, on occasions, albeit black humour; which is more than a healthy inclusion when dealing with such weighty subject matter. Even Shakespeare realised he needed to give the audience a break after Macbeth assassinated Duncan, hence the drunk porter welcoming in Macduff as Macbeth and his wife equivocate.

Some of the stories that stood out for me are the likes of The Pledge by writer Ryan Ferrier and artist Kelly Williams (lettered by Cardinal Rae) which deals with the American college tradition of hazing and frat houses. A tradition, I’m glad to say, never made it over here to the more refined United Kingdoms of Great Britain. Now there is one tale that reminded me of the dark humour to be found in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. The tale of a shipwrecked couple in which the wife, even on the island, is the victim of physical and metal abuse that goes too far (Yellow, by Ryan Lindsay and Son Lee) and Devil Daddy by Tini Howard and Christian Dibari with it’s fresh take on dealing with the Devil. I’m sure you’ll have your own favourites too. These are but three of mine. There’s more.
This may not be a graphic novel for everyone, but, it’s not just a comic for the politically minded either. It’s a book that will, hopefully, make you think and maybe even get you to consider being more proactive in your own community. Hell, it’a a book that could well encourage you to pick up that pen and get on with making comics yourself.
And, while backers of the original crowdfunding campaign have probably got theirs already, visitors to ECCC can grab a copy at A Wave Blue World’s booth (#1604). Tell them Olly sent you!
Or, simply pre-order here:  https://this-nightmare- hosted_preorders

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