Come On Get Healthy : Frederick Noland’s “The Big Jab”

It’s no secret that one of the things I pride myself on doing around here is reviewing stuff that no one else ever has or probably will, but in the case of Bay Area cartoonist Frederick Noland’s new Birdcage Bottom Books-published mini, The Big Jab, I think I may be taking things a step further by critiquing something the comic’s very creator probably never even intended to be reviewed.

I mean, for all intents and purposes what we have here is basically the comics equivalent of a PSA, and to top it all off, this thing isn’t even offered for sale anywhere! It is, however, easy enough to get your hands on a copy, as well you should — but we’ll get to all that at the end of this little write-up. First let’s deal with why I said you “should,” in fact, get it —

Okay, yes, the basics that you want from a good mini are all on hand here — Noland’s little story is nicely and organically drawn in an entirely non-belabored fashion, his writing is sharp and incisive, and the story he relates is one that’s not just timely and topical but is also eminently, well, relatable on its face. In terms of execution, efficacy, and underlying intent, it’s a terrific little example in microcosm of form and function working in concert seamlessly. Here’s the added rub, though — this comic is also really important. So important, in fact, that not only should you get it (as I’ve already mentioned twice previously, so I’ll stop now), you should get extra copies of it (hey, broke my word not even one word later, that’s gotta be some kind of new world record!) and leave them scattered around town at bus shelters, park benches, you name it. You want to spread the word about the word Noland is spreading.

As to what that word is, I should think the title gives it away, but just in case it doesn’t, I’ll clobber the point home (it’s what I seem to be doing with this one anyway) : vaccinate. Seriously. Especially if you’re Black, as Noland makes crystal clear that Black people stand a much higher chance of not just contracting COVID-19, but of being hospitalized due to it, and of dying from it. Why the hell do you think the Trump administration was in no hurry to deal with this pandemic? And yes, as Noland also points out, Black people are getting “jabbed” in far lower numbers than any other ethnic group, and while he offers some pertinent and very personal observations in regards to this depressing fact, his main thrust here isn’t to create a through-going piece of cultural analysis, but to do his part to reverse things before it’s literally too late.

So, yeah — this comic might be short in terms of length, but it’s as important a thing to read as there is. The fact that it only takes a couple of minutes to do so is more than just a nice plus, though, it’s essential to its purpose. I don’t know about you, but my eyes would gloss over at some lengthy treatise on this topic with which we’re all so intimately familiar already. Noland, wisely, is determined — scratch that, very detemined — to get this message out in as succinct and accessible a manner as possible, and he does just that remarkably well. This, then, is a comic with more than a “purpose” — it’s got a mission, and if it convinces even one person to get the vaccine, I think that mission has been accomplished.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, this may actually be one of the most important comics of the year — or of any year. You’d be well-advised to read it as though you life depended on it, because who knows? It just might.

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The Big Jab is included free with all orders from https://birdcagebottombooks.com/ Please see if proprietor J.T. Yost will throw in an extra copy or two for you to “distribute” in your local area in the manner I suggested.

Also, this review — and all others around these parts — is “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to give it a look by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse

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