Tales for Dark Times

Blue Collars issues 1 and 2 by Tom Smith and Clare Thompson

Joe Kavanagh is a sponsored worker. A global financial collapse has resulted in an explosion of personal debt. The only way to pay back that debt is via The Sponsorship Act. Sponsors can purchase individual debt in return for the labour of the indebted.

It is often said that the best science fiction isn’t really about the future, but rather about the present. The banking collapse of 2008 had personal debt at its heart. The reaction to that was austerity and an expansion of the gig economy and zero hours contracts. Capitalism found a way to use the crisis to cut costs, to make working class people pay you might say. Workers who did not have full time contracts also lost access to sick pay and holiday pay. The very poorest were cast adrift entirely. Suicide, mental health breakdowns, political alienation, these were the products of this approach. We live every day with the consequences of the decisions taken by a clique of politicians from the same elite schools and universities.

This system we’re living in. As long as there’s good people still willing to put others before themselves. It’s not guaranteed to be around forever.

Blue Collars takes a small imaginative leap beyond this. Indentured servitude, serfdom, slavery – we have seen them all over the years and centuries. Sponsorship is in the same bracket. A dystopian horror that is all too close and believable.

But Blue Collars is not about despair. Rather is highlights how hope and love are always present even in the darkest times. A horrible accident brings together a small group of people who are existing within this system and fighting back in their own small ways.

This system, this climate it turns people against each other. As I’m sure you’re finding out.

That real kind of solidarity stands in sharp contrast to the self-interested charity of the sponsors. The sponsors even introduce a device which allows them to interact with the sponsored without having to actually touch them.

People are essentially good. Only sometimes it takes them a while to realise when they’ve been tricked into abandoning their good nature.

Clare Thompson‘s illustrations have a soft and vulnerable aspect. The second issue of Blue Collars features a stunning splash spread which is reminiscent of L.S. Lowry. Brutal factories light up the sky while in the foreground the flowers of hope grow around the homes of the sponsored workers.

There is a great tradition of political comics in Britain. Whether the anarchistic Bash Street Kids, Charley’s War, the streets of Mega City One or in the pages of Crisis; comics has always had something to say about the society in which we live. Blue Collars can stand proudly in that tradition and I can highly recommend you pick it up.

Blue Collars is published by Frisson Comics in association with C.P Thompson Press. Catch them on Twitter among other places.

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