Wu Wei

Wu Wei
Wu Wei graphic novel review
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Mike Medaglia
  • Release date: 2013
  • Format: Black and white
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

The term ‘wu wei’ is explained on the opening page as a Taoist expression meaning ‘non-action’, and refers to the practice of acting in a natural way to reveal one’s own nature. It’s an interesting application in terms of comics, which as a form of artistic creation could be defined as either natural or not depending on individual interpretation. It’s a conundrum perhaps best left to the scholarly and spiritual.

Editor Mike Medaglia has assembled a talented selection of creators, some of whom seem more attuned to the general theme than others. Francesca Dare, Lizz Lunney, Owen D. Pomery, Alex Potts and John Riordan have work reviewed elsewhere on the site, with Adam Murphy (sample left) the creator who’s subsequently become the most familiar name. His Lost Tales certainly has a spiritual side, and his four contributions range from myths to investigations of Chang Tzu and Hui Tzu’s philosophy, drawn in a simple, but appealing grey wash.

It’s interesting to note that almost every creator’s definition of spirituality is defined in Eastern rather than Western terms. It could be noted that Eastern forms of religion are more inclined to pondering life, whereas Christianity is a process of instruction, but whether or not that’s the case, perhaps spirituality can just be defined as opening one’s mind. Do that, and whether the creators are passing on philosophy or supplying their own, there’s plenty to ponder. That’s still the case when the intent is satirical, such as John Riordan’s ‘Spuddha’ contributions. Steven Walsh and Francesca Dare’s ‘Nasrudin’ strips are more obviously gag-based, but still offer moments of thought.

There are some contributors with little to offer, approximating philosophical statements, but hollow at the core. These are thankfully minimal. That’s also the case for contributions where the intent outpaces the talent. A nice final touch is a tipped-in, foldout minicomic from Richey K. Chandler to accompany his strip about Mizuko Tizo, the spirits who care for the souls of children who die before their parents.

Despite the care taken in production, Wu Wei is a small press publication, never circulated to booksellers, but anyone interested can still buy a copy from Medaglia’s wesbsite.