Zen Buddhist practitioner Mike Medaglia has cemented his open-minded style of art and story-telling in the small press zine in recent times, bolstered by his One Year Wiser series. An ongoing collection of comics designed to make your life a little easier, it so far consists of journals, colouring in books and meditations. His latest venture in the series, One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness, is is strongest offering yet. A visual treat and bursting with helpful guides to living as positive a life as possible, it expands on the visual strengths of past One Year Wiser books and held together by a handsomely soft narrative.
Despite having produced a journal for the One Year Wiser series, An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness feels very much like a journal in itself. Structured in an anthology-esque nature, it exudes the practises, mentality and end results of Zen Buddhism. Split into four section, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, the comic certainly covers plenty of ground, but Medaglia’s nimble narrative and gorgeous art ensures the reader is rarely lost. What makes An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness a particular joy is Medaglia’s art. Throughout the comic, he weaves Buddhist teachings into illustrations that illuminate those teachings, resulting in some enjoyably creativity and helps make those teachings land with impact.
What’s perhaps a hindrance to the comic is the stylistic separation of the four chapters. Each chapter is bathed in a solitary colour, a pale yellow to signify spring, a petrified-looking green to simulate summer, a thin magenta for summer and a sombre greyish blue for winter. Such a tactic doesn’t lend the comic a great deal of variety in colour, with the end result seeing An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness performing a balancing act between its joyful narrative joy, intriguing drawings and two-dimensional colours. Still, it’s a testament to Medaglia as a drawer that the characters who inhabit these shapely, meditative landscapes are crafted with clarity and passion. Even if the repetitive use of colour can cause the comic to grate, its pros outweigh the cons.
Perhaps One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness ultimately comes down to the message to projects. It’s a comic that’s heavy on philosophy, but the philosophy itself doesn’t drag the comic down into an overly complex mindset. Medaglia uses numerous winding tools from different mentalities, calling upon conflicting moods and attitudes to create as clear a path for peace of mind as possible, which he succeeds in doing. Spreading his words of wisdom out as different seasons even gives the impression that this is meant to be read over a longer period of time rather than just one sitting, which helps give the aforementioned simple colouring some sense of clarity.
More than just yet another decent entry in the blossoming One Year Wiser series, One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide to Mindfulness is chock full of the good stuff. Absorbing art and philosophical words makes it a comic book that’s good for the soul, mind and eyes.
Are you keen to improve your mind? You can discover more about One Year Wiser: An Illustrated Guide from SelfMadeHero and more about Mike Medaglia from his website. Have you already read the comic? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!