Deaf in The Desert
A review of Nilah Magruder’s M. F. K. (Insight Comics, 2017)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Nilah Magruder’s M.F.K. Is another comic that features the trope of the lone Deaf person in a hearing world. Magruder emphasises the image of Deaf isolation by opening her comic with her character Abbie wandering alone and lost in the desert because the creature she was riding through the sand dunes had just died. She is discovered in the desert by hearing people Jaime and his grandfather and brought back to a village that is resistant to outsiders.
However, the small, conservative village that Abbie finds herself in doesn’t discriminate against her because of her Deaf identity, rather they fear her because she has otherworldly powers. She is from a select group called Parasai, a small group of people who are capable of wielding special powers. Abbie finds herself at the centre of a conflict between various Parasai rogues and the villagers, and that sense of isolation is made even stronger as she realizes that she can’t fit in with either of them.
Rather than being culturally Deaf, Abbie uses a hearing aid, which serves as a contrast to the rest of the world that Magruder creates that doesn’t seem to be technologically advanced enough to produce a hearing aid. Yet, somehow one of the villagers is able to fix her hearing aid without having any knowledge of the technology or what it does.
M. F. K. Is a comic of complexities and uncertainties, exploring ideas of social isolation and rejection.
To find out more about Nilah Magruder, visit http://www.nilahmagruder.com
To find out more about M.F.K, visit http://www.mfkcomic.com