Pullbox Review: The Blue Flame – Damned With Faint Praise

The Blue Flame GN

Writing and Art: Rees Finlay
Cover Art: Paulette Arochena

Available now at Drive Thru Comics

Two months ago, I read a snippet of a graphic novel that started, “07/05/2016 CHAPTER ONE: The morning I woke up and my leg did not work.” Intrigued, I read the next 14 pages in about a minute and a half. Then I went back and read them again. And again. Then I had to tell Rees how brilliant he is and support his Kickstarter.

The Blue Flame is, quite simply, Rees Finlay opening his soul and putting it on a page. There are definitely parts that are not pretty, and a great deal of it is painful. His alter-ego is a portrait of Dorian Gray that talks smack to him, and his angel could be the devil in disguise. He is forced to relive what has brought him to today, good and bad. His girlfriend is the center of his happy times and a shadow or absent entirely from his worst times, although she’s not the face he sees when he’s almost at rock bottom.

Surprisingly, his horrible job is the largest part of his trip down memory lane.  We’ve all had that one job that we never, ever would do again. I’ve cleaned motel rooms, worked retail, waitressed, taught school and done customer service for a few companies, but my worst job by far was cold-calling people to get a salesman in their door. I only lasted a week and a half, but I’d do it for ten years before I’d do the job that Rees did with the loan company. It’s one thing to call people, and another thing entirely to knock on their door and sell them an empty dream.  Even good money isn’t good enough for that, so much that he needs an escape from even the memory of it.

I was struck by the rawness of the story; the glorious pain, and beauty found in that pain. Heart-wrenchingly honest, it almost dares you to read and feel nothing. His art is very expressive, letting the good be really beautiful and the bad be purposefully ugly. At the point of cataclysm, where art fails him and he has to rely on prose, I read the words and tears stood in my eyes. A graphic cry for help, and I hear you Reese. I hear you.


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