Genre-mixing’s the way of the world nowadays, which makes sense in a time when boundaries slip around all the time. Our day to day experience feels science fictional and apocalyptic and fantastical, with no care or explanation for how jolting those juxtapositions might be. Something unexpected might feel familiar, or better still that strange combination of deeply strange and achingly familiar that makes for great world building.
Case in point: Nilah Magruder’s award-winning web comic, M.F.K.
M.F.K. feels a bit like a fantasy adventure story and is set in an apocalyptic wasteland. The world itself does have a government, but it’s impossibly corrupt and on the edge of civil war.
Jamie’s the POV character, a sort of desert peasant. When we first meet him he’s ignoring his responsibilities, nose deep in a book. Reader surrogate? Yep. But the heart of the book, it’s protagonist, is Abbie, who we meet a few moments later. Abbie and Jamie don’s start out as friends — and all Abbie cares about is what’s inside her mysterious urn.
What’s in the urn are the ashes of Abbie’s mother. What she wants is to scatter the ashes in the proper sacred spot, and that yearning forms the shape of the story.
In the world of M.F.K. there are Parapsi who have magical powers, and Misma, who don’t have any. The Misma are unchanging, weak, and they believe their low station is how things are meant to be. Jamie’s a Misma, Abbie’s a Parapsi, and the book really sings thematically when it works through notions of what power is and how it can stunt lives or relationships.
But power cuts both ways. And until Jamie and Abbie close distance, Jamie will never be able to re-frame the meaning of Misma, and Abbie will never find rest for her mother. How they build that trust is part of the adventure.
Check out our previous posts Bee and the Puppycat, Spacetrawler, Grrl Power, Krazy Kat, She-Hulk, King City, The Whiteboard, Hubris, Akira, The Wicked and the Divine, Saga, Are You My Mother?, Cairo, Static, Elfquest, Hip Hop Family Tree, Finder, Peanuts, Love and Rockets, As the Crow Flies, Hellblazer, Strong Female Protagonist, Safe Area Goradže, The Legion of Super-Heroes, The Arab of the Future, Barefoot Gen, Stay Still and Stay Silent, The Invisbles, Brenda Starr: Reporter, Lackadaisy, Alone, Nat Turner, and Agents of the Realm!