This is a review of a comic that almost didn’t get written. This comic is called Blomix and it covers the daily adventures of a Peace Corp volunteer. As it turns out, there are many troubles and trials these folks go through.
This being a form of diary comic, I found it very interesting to discover the goals of the author and some of the tradeoffs that have to be made. That would be its theme, I would say. Do you plant a banana tree because it will be of great benefit even though the locals don’t want one? Should you gorge on food whenever you get the chance? And probably just as important, how does one treat the cattle and animals in the area?
But it’s more than just making choices between what kind of exotic local food you choose to eat. How close do you get to the local population; what do you share with them? How much culture should you take on and how much should you give? How does one avoid cultural missteps or local dangers? What sorts of work and what sorts of entertainment can one amuse oneself with? Deeper themes abound. There are basic needs for comfort and security that become magnified in a strange place. And home. Apparently, home is always on your mind.
Now factor in that everything familiar to you is usually miles away. Getting ill might require days of travel for even rudimentary medical treatment. You can share a drink and a few laughs with almost anyone, but people with any kind of background like yours might be hours away and are constantly moving around, rarely seen. Sure, you’re around people all day and you might even be very popular but it has to be a lot of constant work to understand and assimilate the language and culture you find yourself in.
So this isn’t your typical day-in-the-life comic. But it is. There are squabbles over the pet cat, bouts of unpleasant illness/overdrinking and guitar playing. They sometimes argue about what movie to watch – which is not uncommon to you or I, but imagine you won’t see another movie for two months… what movie becomes very important. And you don’t want to see this one. One particular update is common enough but still a bit too personal and almost precluded me from reviewing the comic. Just so everyone understands, while I heartily appreciate the truth of experience, not all details are worthy of publishing – for reasons current and future, small and large. In the end, though, I do not believe the few oversharing comics out of the hundreds were purposely included for salacious purposes. They are just part of his life.
Still, you must by now realize that the author, Jubal Faircloth, is making comics after hours of biking and travel, farming and other hard labors. This, for me, makes his effort to have an interesting comic and keep improving all the more compelling. It’s done in an informal style with varying media, mostly colored pencil and pen yet still carries a strong sense of purpose and direction in each comic. There are detail touches and, usually, a soft punchline on the day’s events. I never got the feeling like events were over scripted or melo-dramatized for the comic’s purposes.
Overall, I have enjoyed the Blomix record of Jubal’s life in the Peace Corp. It appealed to and answered my curiosity about how other people live in far away lands and how one deals with culture clash, local conditions and manages their resources. Life is bigger and yet made of small details.