Take a second to picture a world where the distribution of self-published content could have you arrested. Now, imagine a group of rebellious skateboarding anarchists taking the fight to a corrupt government and its crooked politicians through the illegal circulation of zines — a war on censorship fought with blood, sweat, and ink. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
Well, it isn’t. And by God, is it frustrating.
Pierre Maurel’s Blackbird is a collection of a six-issue zine series originally published in France in 2008, and one that wasn’t really worth collecting in the first place.
I could honestly throw every insult I could at this story — even the kitchen sink just for good measure. Instead, I will simply say that Blackbird is about as captivating as Ferris Bueller’s teacher reading a syllabus, and that this story somehow manages to have slower pace than two sloths making love on their honeymoon.
As for the characters themselves, I am almost speechless. To be fair, a story that has no names for its characters may sound groundbreaking, and even a little inventive. Ultimately, though, it just leads to total disinvestment from the characters and their journey. It also leads to further frustration given that the character designs are so underwhelming, making it hard to know who is who at the best of times.
Arguably, though, the most infuriating element of Blackbird is that we’re never given enough information on any of the characters to feel invested in their cause. There isn’t any sort of character exploration to see what drives them to anarchistic action. Hell, we never even get to find out why they’re passionate about making zines or what their illegal publication is even about.
Blackbird had everything going for it as a graphic novel and yet found a way to under-deliver in virtually every way imaginable. It stands as not only a monument to lazy storytelling but as a marriage between all that is pretentious and dull.
Given the choice between reading Blackbird or doing classroom readings, I would unequivocally suggest the latter.