BookBin2013: Elmer


Another graphic novel posing another allegorical examination of another human flaw. This time, rather than examining our obsession with war by putting animals in the path of bullets instead of humans, we examine humanity’s intolerance of those who are different…through racism toward sentient chickens.

I know, denizens. I know.

Actually, though, sometimes the best way to get someone to think differently about a topic or to look at it with fresh eyes is to pull it out of familiar settings and turn it on its head a bit. Why do you think Star Trek has been so popular for so many years? When we remove these topics from the realm of the familiar and put them in unexpected settings, we’re forced to view them in new ways. Perhaps even view them in ways opposite from how we would typically view them.

Such is the case with Gerry Alanguilan’s graphic novel Elmer. Part social commentary, part family drama, the novel tells the story of the strange and sudden evolution of chickens into creatures capable of intelligent communication and interaction with humans, and what this means for a global society forced to accept that what was once part of the dinner menu at McDonald’s now demands the same rights and freedoms as any other sentient being.

Where my previous BookBin review left me feeling quite depressed, Elmer left me feeling amused as well as enamored of the fact that Alanguilan succeeded, for even the briefest of moments, in encouraging me to re-examine my rather carnivorous eating habits. What would I do if, tomorrow, chickens actually did start speaking? Or, even worse, cows? How would we deal with no longer being able to depend upon these creatures for sustenance?

Insert parallel comparison with slavery and emancipation. Minus the consumption. Again, always interesting when someone can force us to view old arguments through new lenses.

Sadly, I’m still just a carnivore at heart. I’ve greatly reduced my meat consumption in recent years, particularly my red meat consumption. But sometimes…sometimes. Sorry, Bessy, but sometimes I just need a steak.

Final Verdict: I might be tempted to add this to my wish list, just to keep an eye out for a cheap copy through Amazon Market Place. It was an interesting enough concept executed in a captivating enough way that I wouldn’t be averse to revisiting it later on (could I sound any more non-committal?).