Conundrum Press’s ‘Conundrum 25’ series spotlighting “masters of the graphic short story form” continues to celebrate the publisher’s silver jubilee with thought-provoking and medium-embracing comics practice. Blaise Moritz’s Bar Delicious, the fifteenth entry in the range, is described as “a meditation on consumption and desire in the context of the contemporary late capitalist and technological system.” Collecting work from the artist’s The Test series of zines it’s material that manages to be both questioning and yet still oddly resigned in its delivery.
Across nearly 40 pages Moritz’s narrator character reflects on the nature of Bar Delicious, a much desired product that holds the population of the industrial world they observe and comment on very much in its clutches. In five short chapters they interrogate the reasons why they desire to devour Bar Delicious. Do they have autonomy in their choices or are they manipulated parts of the process? Do they control the system or does the system control them? Will they forever be in thrall to the illusion of supply and demand, or can the tyranny of unsatiable consumption ever be overthrown?
Moritz’s one-panel pages adopt an incongruous hybrid visual style that blends the naïve, the abstract and the sophisticated. The symbolic and the representational act as graphic metaphor and as calmly damning emblems for Moritz’s reflections. Each illustration feels like both a discrete entity unto itself and part of a wider if succinct visual essay. Complementing this, Moritz’s use of lettering is a vital part of the storytelling with staggered, slanting, circular and forceful text styles all contributing to capture the tone, theme and message of each individual illustration.
While all of the ‘Conundrum 25’ releases to date have been worthy of your attention there is something particularly relevant about Bar Delicious and its analysis of the oppressive hold of late stage capitalism. A reminder, too, that Blaise Moritz has also contributed to the Colossive Cartographies series.
Blaise Moritz (W/A) • Conundrum Press.$10.00
Review by Andy Oliver