A Moment of Clarity by John Bintz

A Moment of Clarity mini-collection volume 1 collects the first 5 episodes of John Bintz's series. The series follows the adventures and misadventures of young Johnny, a sensitive and bright 11-year-old boy living in small town America. The collection is a slick 84-page, glossy-covered, perfect bound album that reflects impressively high values in production and an enjoyably clear vision for storytelling. For those unfamiliar with the series, A Moment of Clarity is a refreshingly intelligent, thoughtful, and thought-provoking account of childhood wrapped in deceptively simple plot construction that packs an emotional punch.

Each episode is short (about 12 pages) yet is filled with heart felt emotion befitting an awkward 6th grader trying to survive the social struggles in life. For instance, in episode two, Johnny (whom we’ve come to know as a sweet and meek youngster -- a target for exploitation by the those inferior troglodytes: the ignorant, the insensitive, and the immature) decides to rent his bicycle to earn some spending cash. His first (and only) customer is a neighborhood brat who after considerable time joyriding refuses to relinquish her rental. Since, unwisely, there was no time limit specified at the beginning of the rental, the rider apparently has decided to set the limit herself, which by the looks of things is indefinite. Here is a common theme in Bintz's stories: little Johnny is confronted, as we all are, with a test of character. How do you react to someone who takes advantage of you? What do you do? Sensing no alternative, Johnny abruptly grabs the bike with the girl on it as she wheels past, sending his customer flying in typical cartoon fashion (flying over the handlebars trailed by a long "AAAAAAH!")

Johnny’s stood up for himself, a big and important step for him in learning self defense and developing confidence and self respect. So why does he feel miserable? He’s trying, as always, to do the right thing. He’s not perfect, but Johnny’s clearly a decent and good person.

The brat’s friends naturally disagree with Johnny’s choice and reprimand him in their own juvenile way which upsets and confuses our sensitive protagonist. Was it the right thing to do? Was the situation handled the best way? How come when Johnny’s friend stands up against a crotchety mini-mart cashier who refuses to honor the 5 cent glass bottle recycling deposit he gets commended, but when Johnny tries to prevent himself from being taken advantage of he’s rebuked?

This type of conflict is universal, and attractive, because it’s what makes A Moment of Clarity identifiable. Most humans can relate to Johnny’s insecurities and sensitivities that are so painfully challenged by an often insensitive society. But as it is with real life, these moments are really tests that reveal character and enlighten, moments in our lives that define who we are, moments of ... clarity.

I highly recommend this independent production to anyone who enjoys a good character study or can relate to feeling outside the in-crowd. For details check out the official website: http://www.claritycomic.com