Review: Blue Moon

By Ben Boruff

Blue Moon discusses many topics—family, love, loneliness—but, above all, this black-and-white graphic novel is about one of life’s most perplexing concepts: truth. The story focuses on Tim, a reclusive high school student who struggles to draw a clear line between reality and imagination. Like a less colorful version of Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Ben Gilboa’s Blue Moon features an unreal world that offers real moral dilemmas.

Blue Moon’s website labels Gilboa’s graphic novel as a work of “psychological horror,” which is unexpectedly accurate. On its surface, Blue Moon does not contain many horror tropes. The comic is eerie—a fact that is best exemplified by Gilboa’s use of pointillistic grayscale shading inside thick, black borders—but creepiness does not always spawn horror. Blue Moon contains no jump scares, and all aggression is comfortably contextualized within the narrative. In fact, if Blue Moon is ever adapted into a film (which would be rated R for nudity and disturbing images), I imagine the soundtrack would be simple—even pleasant at times—consisting mostly of ghostly orchestral riffs and curious piano compositions like Carly Comando’s “Everyday.” Interestingly, it is this understated allure that makes Ben Gilboa’s story so horrifying.

The comic’s protagonist, Tim, experiences a questionably fictional world—or, more specifically, one fictional female—so profoundly that he sacrifices several elements of his unquestionably real existence, which is unsettling. All thoughtful human begins have fantasies, and the idea that those dreams could act maliciously toward their dreamers is terrifying—even more so if the fantasies act deviously, with smiles and sexual prowess. Viewed through this lens, Blue Moon reads more like a cautionary tale than an abstract thought experiment. Many of us shroud ourselves in comfortable white lies, and those collections of small lies can eventually distort our perceptions of reality. As Community’s Jeff Winger notes, “nine out of ten lies occur six inches away from the bathroom mirror.” Ben Gilboa examines this concept in Blue Moon, and his findings are not comforting.

The characters of Blue Moon, fictional and otherwise, scrutinize the usefulness of truth, but Blue Moon does not shove readers toward any specific conclusion. Tim’s father approaches the topic with conviction, asserting that “the truth, it doesn’t always work out, but it’s never wrong.” As a whole, Blue Moon questions this claim. Truth is never vilified, but it is not embraced either. If reality is difficult, why not dream? Even if the dreams are as difficult as reality—even if the dreams are dangerous—at least they are yours.

Score: 4/5

Blue Moon
Writer/Artist: Ben Gilboa
Publisher: Project-Nerd Publishing