Free Z

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of Free Z Creator(s): Willie Hewes
Publishers: Self Published
From: UK
Price: US $2, UK 1.

Red is gay, much to the outrage of his parents, so they send him to Refuge, an religious intervention camp where they make people “good” and “pure”, even if you think you are already.

Befitting a girl who declares on her website Comics by a girl who likes sad things, but sometimes they are funny there is an aura of melancholy surrounding this book, from the forlorn figure on the cover to the depressing banality of the prejudice which sees homosexuality as something that needs to be cured.

Willie depicts Red giving up in the face of the discipline and indoctrination that the staff of the refuge imposes. The tragedy of this defeat is magnified by the acknowledgement by the staff that the only change they expect is a cosmetic one – as long as you act “normal”, whatever the heck that is, you’ll be accepted.

Presenting the narrative text in the form of rhyming couplets highlights the irony of the events – it’s sing-a-long psychological reprogramming, a ballad to the fate of Red, who decides to act as requested for the meantime but looks forward to the time he can be free. Red is infused with angst, while the other characters are vacant cypers. The polemic that Willie is putting forward is forcefully presented. The comic is one sided and comes across as anti Christian, but this is balanced by some of the accompanying text pieces that argue against the practices of organizations such as the Refuge from a Christian view point.

This comic can rightly be accused of being manipulative, but that’s only to be expected. It’s a topic that demands a stand be taken, an opinion expressed. Some readers might not agree, but Willie uses her skills as a storyteller very effectively to give force to her point of view. The power of this comic is that forces readers to face up to what they believe is right. Ss such it’s a success that should be applauded.

In a Word: Cogent.

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