I recently read a comic that I have been thinking a lot about. Its called Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs, and its among the best that I have read for a long while.
The fine folks over at 11 O’clock Comics recommended it on their podcast a few weeks back, and I decided get a copy. Especially when I saw the artwork, which is pretty straight forward line work and fields of color. Simple colors. Black, white and shades of green… and those colors and shapes really helped make the story even more powerful.
Maybe these are spoilers (I don’t mind spoilers and its hard for me to tell for sure) so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing then maybe don’t read any further, just pick up the book :) Anyway, this is kind of a reverse Garden of Eden story. Instead of the man and woman being thrust out of a garden paradise, the couple in this book leave the complexity of the modern world and go back into nature.
But the nature they return to for their Safari Honeymoon is pretty damn brutal and threatening. Maybe it was written that way to illustrate how the modern mind tends to see nature as a threatening place? Of course nature can be a wild and threatening for sure, but in Honeymoon Safari, every leaf will poison, every animal will attack, even the air is filled with bacteria that will possess and control the mind and body of its host. This exists in nature, but because it is so apparent in Safari Honeymoon, it really enhances the point of the story.
Not a big deal but I’ll admit, and probably silly to even mention since “safari” is part of the title, but that sorta brutality did kinda bug me. Even though it is cartoon-ie and all, the guns and violence kinda bothered me. Even though the animals and plants are weird geometric shapes for the most part, I still liked them and they had personality. I didn’t want them to get shot, even if they were ready to eat or poison the peeps. But the cartoon violence was necessary and also enhanced the point of the story. And they are on safari so I guess that is part of it… plus it was also nice to see the modern Adam & Eve leave civilization behind and go back to this strange Garden.
A little side tangent, but something I was thinking on after I finished the book… Its pretty obvious that nature feeds on itself in order to survive. Animals (including people) feed on other animals. Plants and bugs feed on the corpse that is left behind. Rocks, rivers and wind grind it all into dust. And that dust feeds the plants, which feed the animals. I understand all this, and even see it as beautiful. But I chose to become a vegetarian a long time ago because I do think it is ugly how far our modern culture has taken it. Or how far removed from it we are is probably a better way of saying it. At this point, seems to me, we usually live outside of that natural cycle. I do think it is natural for people to eat meat, but I don’t think the way we farm it is correct or ethical at all, which is probably the main reason why I became a vegetarian. Now, I know being vegetarian doesn’t let me off the hook at all. I’m sure there are many other beliefs and behaviors I maintain just because I was trained to think they are okay due to the social contract I was born into. Anyway, even with my diet I could also do more and only eat renewable fruits and leafy plants. Maybe I could become a master yogi and survive on air. But truth is, I am pretty happy with my diet and choices. I’m at peace with them. And at least I’m not eating anonymous and (way way way too often) mistreated animals. Probably sounds funny, but the way nature was portrayed in this book made me reflect on my choice to become a vegetarian. And upon reflection, I still think it was and is the right choice for me.