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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/07/2006 Archived Entry: "Graphic travel book review: Baraka And Black Magic In Morocco"

Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco
by Rick Smith
Alternative Comics

Review by Tom Good

When I was younger, a story like Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco would have sounded like an exciting, exotic adventure, and might have inspired me to plan my next overseas trip. Today, it sounds more like the type of hassle that would encourage me to stay home. But it is an entertaining story either way. Rick Smith and his wife Tania explore the deserts, kasbahs and towns of Morocco, but at times it seems everyone they meet tries to cheat them, sell them drugs, or both. Sometimes the locals come up with inventive variations like charging "admission" to the kasbah, or slipping the travelers drugged tea to make it easier to rip them off. And given that this story takes place in 2000, I can only imagine that the going might be even rougher today. But their trip had its appealing moments, too, such as when Rick and Tania listen to some great Berber music.

Compared to a typical travel essay with photos, a comic makes for an interesting way to tell a travel story. The drawings convey the author's feelings and impressions about the places he visits and the people he meets, instead of showing us their literal appearance. It is more fun, for example, to see what the world felt like to Smith after he drank the drugged tea than it would be to see a photo of the incident. The art uses a simple, flat style reminiscent of Jeffrey Brown. The book ends with the text of Smith's original journal entries for the trip, which provides a kind of "behind the scenes" look at some of the raw material used to create the comic. Baraka was a fun read.

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