The Watcher's Tale

Mary Morgan's Journal Book 3

Fiction - Graphic Novel/Comic
69 Pages
Reviewed on 01/07/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Watcher's Tale: Mary Morgan's Journal Book 3 is a post-apocalyptic science fiction graphic novel written and illustrated by R. M. Wilburn. While Mary Morgan and her companions-at-arms had been successful in their efforts to free those imprisoned for their opposition to Herr Bigly’s Rump’s reign of awfulness, they soon realized that they had underestimated the lengths to which the orange monster would go to establish and maintain an iron grip on his plan for world domination. His secret weapon was soon revealed to be devastatingly simple and sinister. The announcements heralding Bigly Rump’s generous offer of free education to all children indicated that it was not only generous but also mandatory. What better way to create a dictatorship that endures than by brainwashing the young? This and other new developments made it even more urgent for Mary and her crew to regroup and plan their next moves.

The Watcher's Tale presents the reader with an awful vision that will seem terribly familiar to anyone who’s ever dared to look at an independently published newspaper or kept up with current events. Wilburn’s illustrations continue to delight and amaze. I love the imaginative use of the hand-written journal pages which seem torn, stapled together and bearing coffee stains and dirt. Pages are deckle-edged, giving them an ancient and tattered impression and making one wonder just how far in the past these entries were penned. Mary’s compatriots hail from all over the galaxy, and their varied and unusual appearances compound the post-apocalyptic nature of the work. I also appreciated how she weaves a photographic journal throughout the work, again one that is dire and foreboding in nature and steeped in our past. Wilburn’s work gives one a lot to think about, especially considering the Constitutional crisis facing the nation today. The Watcher's Tale: Mary Morgan's Journal Book 3 is most highly recommended.

K.C. Finn

The Watcher’s Tale is a work of adventure and mystery penned by author R. M. Wilburn, with accompanying illustrations by the author. Forming the third novel of the Mary Morgan’s Journal series, this adventurous tale follows on from The Cautioner’s Tale and The Rescuer’s Tale to bring yet more adventure from the life of Mary and her allies. In this latest mysterious and action-packed tale, the main villain, Herr Bigly Rump, finds himself on the throne and claiming to rule the world. As his sinister allies rally to back him up, Mary and her friends race headlong into danger to take the Great Orange Beast out of power.

Packed with satire and plenty of good laughs, Mary Morgan’s Journal series is always a delight for readers young and old. I was thrilled to return to these excellent adventures and see that the plot is only getting bigger and better with each edition. More than this, there is now a very strong inner story beyond the satire which is its own reward even for those who don’t get all the references. Author R. M. Wilburn provides smooth narration and gorgeous illustrations in the tale to fully realize her descriptive and endearing world. I particularly enjoyed the dialogue in this piece, which is pithy, witty and really gives you a lot to relate to with her cast of characters. Overall, The Watcher’s Tale is highly recommended for both fans of the series and newcomers alike: a fun and lively frolic that is much needed in today’s world.

Joel R. Dennstedt

The delectable series of books comprising Mary Morgan’s Journal continues with Book 3: The Watcher’s Tale. Any glorious superlative used to adequately describe the whole literary creation of R.M. Wilburn automatically applies as well to this most recent, eagerly-awaited sequel. You really should start at the beginning, though, if you want to fully savor a truly unique reading experience. Each story combines humor, intrigue, and exotic adventure with the awesome graphics typical of a vibrantly colorful, deeply entrancing computer game. One searches each illustrated scene just as he would navigate his way through such a game, not realizing he is simply reading a story written with considerable skill. In other words, imbibing these books feels like an interactive experience rather than the mere reading of a compelling tale. Astonishing, really.

Now, a rather startling revelation regarding Mary Morgan’s Journal, effectively developed in The Watcher’s Tale, is that R.M. Wilburn has presented the reader with a timely and sharply-pointed satire wickedly dissecting our present maelstrom of political incompetence, misdeeds, and misdemeanors. The leading characters are obvious; the psychology more complex. Bigly Rump is, of course, the central antagonist. Wilburn’s reluctant study of Rump’s base motivations and freakish goals – including an abduction scheme actively targeting young children (with a grisly nod to Soylent Green) – grabs the reader’s attention even more with its contemporary relevance and urgency. And with monikers like Bogus Piehole, Dubious Hedger, and Posthumous Krill, the characters in this series (and this book) will have you chuckling muchly and leaving you clamoring for more. Much more.

Charles Remington

In the third installment of R.M. Wilburn’s beautifully illustrated, dystopian series, Herr Bigley Rump has created Rumptopia, a huge, walled city where the luxuries of food and shelter are enjoyed by the privileged few. I don’t think I need to comment on the inspiration for this character - his disparaging nickname, The Great Orange Beast, may give a clue. The Watcher’s Tale describes how Rump has begun to entice children to his new educational establishments where boasting and bullying are encouraged in order to harness their limitless imagination. Outside the city, conditions for those fighting for freedom and a decent life are grim. State-licensed unscrupulous landlords exploit the weak, and what is left of the post-apocalyptic population struggles to survive, hungry and harassed by the forces who should be protecting it.

The city wall building has echoes of today’s ubiquitous xenophobia and the elderly folk being lured to work in the local ‘Fud Factoria’, only to disappear without a trace, reminded me very much of the film classic, Soylent Green. With her brilliant illustrations Ms. Wilburn has created a world peopled by odd semi-human creatures living in the wasteland left after a nuclear war; a population which has lost its history and identity, a population doomed to repeat the mistakes of its unknown past. Can our heroine Mary Morgan and her motley collection of urban warriors possibly prevail against the might of the Great Orange Beast?

The Watcher’s Tale by R.M. Wilburn is an allegorical tale in the vein of Animal Farm. It discusses, albeit obliquely, the problems and injustices that many moderate liberal thinkers can see in today’s increasingly right-wing, materialistic society, a society where greed is good and a sense of fairness is for wimps. The extravagant illustrations bring the narrative to life, and I was left wondering if the series would, in fact, lend itself to an animation project (maybe a collaboration with Aardman Animations?). I enjoyed The Watcher’s Tale and remain enthralled by Ms. Wilburn’s talent and imagination. I do not hesitate to recommend this book and hope that the whole series finds a broad audience.

Jamie Michele

The Watcher's Tale by R. M. Wilburn is the third book in the Mary Morgan's Journal series, preceded by book one, The Cautioner's Tale, and book two, The Rescuer's Tale. This is a graphic novel that combines its fantasy fiction storyline with exquisitely detailed, illustrated formatting. In this installment, Herr Bigly Rump (aka the Great Orange Beast, the Rump, Bigly Rump) sits on the throne and has renamed the city Rumptopia, built a mega-wall around it to keep immigrants out and information in, protesting and free press are prohibited and he favors those who favor him. He’s made friends of enemies and enemies of friends. Oh, and also…children are going missing at an alarming rate.

The Watcher’s Tale is graphic fantasy fiction at its best, and the political parallels are eerily terrifying satire that makes for a fascinating read. R. M. Wilburn has given Mary a strong, intelligent voice that resonates even without the delicious illustrations that accompany her patchwork narrative. The graphics themselves come to life, with texture and dimensional layering that leap from the page. I loved the supporting cast and abhorred Herr Bigly Rump, and the Borderland outposts had a fantastic, almost apocalyptic feel to them--a testament to the world-building. I haven’t read the first two books but am headed back to do so at the first opportunity. For those who have followed Mary Morgan’s Journals from the onset, book four The Hero’s Tale is on its way to close out the series.