The Test #18-22: Bar Delicious
Blaise Moritz, five issues, 16-20 pgs each, $2 each, blaisemoritz.com
This series, which spans five issues within the catalog of Blaise Moritz’s monthly The Test, is extraordinary to me. The zines center entirely on something called “Bar Delicious,” a substance that enthralls the narrator (and, seemingly, much of society). Their almost hypnotic consumption of the stuff is the baseline, and gestures to a meta-critique of obligatory consumption under late capitalism. The narrator seems to speak for everyone, and is both aware of the terrifying grip Bar Delicious holds over their material and psychic realities, and somehow grateful for it. Fiending and forlorn subjects roil over the stuff, and the spare but lurching text hurdles through various the various paradoxes and relationships that seem to coexist in people’s relationship to the fetish object.
This tortured but rapturous narrative voice sends high contrast Deco type cascading around the pages, in constant tension with looming and abstract industrial imagery and structures. The big picture political commentary and the somewhat grandiose tone that delivers it both give the text a striking sense of importance, surreal as it all is. The words, however, fit so seamlessly into the tightly skewed or unstable perspective each image takes, that their letters, too, are sympathetic.
Moritz’s style is profoundly developed, his lines and shapes all chunky and clunky in black but full of life and motion. It makes for an aesthetic that is both achingly familiar and utterly unique. A kind of Cubist Expressionism takes the lead, but it is backed up by Art Deco, Futurism and Constructivism as well, all brought into the present by glimpses of modern typography, industry and labour propaganda, alternative comix and even, perhaps, Afro-centric publishing of the 80s and 90s (that can’t be just me?).
I haven’t read the rest of The Test, but this style does seem to be a kind of seamless hybrid aesthetic that Moritz has developed over time. It is put to work in this comic, to astounding effect.