Described as a ‘speculative memoir’, cartoonist Bob Fingerman’s From the Ashes predicts the future and makes the end of the world a hilarious satire. Set in the smouldering ruins of Manhattan after an unknown but not unexpected disaster, the story follows Bob and his wife Michelle. They journey through a post apocalyptic New York, encountering cannibal foodies, friendly neighborhood mutants and reproduction camps run by ‘Rile O’Biley’. Apocalyptic literature often takes itself way too seriously (read: The Road by Cormac McCarthy) but Fingerman’s cheeky satire is bang on the money.
He makes fun of the Food Network, talk shows, Fox News and society in general, laughing his way through the end times.
Bob and Michelle feel the burden of their former life lifted, and set about enjoying the new world together. Things start out great at first– plenty of peace and quiet with no pressure from the rest of the world. The post-apocalyptic world, however, isn’t all peaches and cream. The couple soon discovers things aren’t quite as peaceful as they seem, and things turn from bad to worse.
One of the strongest parts of the book is the relationship between Bob and Michelle, who have the strong bond that comes with the lifetime commitment of Marriage. One of the things that bother me about comics these days is that relationships don’t last. It’s very rare to have a strong married couple in comics. Jeff Lemire has it going on DC's Animal Man, then you got Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four, but generally you just don’t see strong married couples in comics. It's clear that Bob and Michelle are totally in love and committed to each other, which is refreshing for a family man like myself.
Fingerman’s cartoon-based art style is detailed and consistent, and fits the whole tone of the book perfectly. He uses reddish-brown tones for the outside world, and softer blue tones for inside action, creating a great contrast. Independent comics by cartoonists such as Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes tend to take the sad and depressing route, but Fingerman maintains a fun and lighthearted tone in his story and art. Fingerman worked with Harvey Kurtzman, the creator of MAD, and that influence shines through.
From the Ashes is a great, lighthearted romp that focuses on the important things in life – commitment, loyalty, love and survival without Blackberry. REM lyrics come to mind – It’s the end of the world and we know it – and I feel fine.