On a special crossover episode of “The Newman Bond” podcast — which features professional speakers, alumni, students and other members of Newman’s network — Associate Professor of Theology Matthew Umbarger and Technical Director Austin Schwartz ’23 connect to continue their conversations surrounding stories and literature that focus on end times.
This conversation is an extension of their other podcast, “The World Needs a Little Talk,” in which they examine apocalyptic stories.
In this episode of “The Newman Bond,” Umbarger and Schwartz discuss volume one of the graphic novel “The Fall” by Jared Muralt. The book follows one family as they struggle to survive an apocalypse, but also questions the very reasons that brought mankind to it.
Along with its main tropes, Umbarger and Schwartz discussed how the story, which tells of a mysterious flu that kills people, was published pre-COVID.
“It’s fascinating that he had no idea that COVID was about to hit,” Schwartz said of the author. “He came up with this story where there isn’t anything absurd like zombies or robots or aliens.”
One of Umbarger’s main critiques of the book was that even though the story came out before the pandemic, it still hits too close to home.
“If I open up a comic, it’s an escape, and that’s why I’m reading it,” he said. “I want it to be different from the world I live in. This did not feel like an escape at all. It was a little claustrophobic.”
Some other critiques the pair shared were that “The Fall” was a bit slow and confusing at times, predictable, and not fully redemptive at the end.
What they did like about it, though, was the great artwork.
“I’m impressed by the technical ability on display here,” said Umbarger. “He’s obviously a great artist with wonderful, intricate details.”
Added Schwartz, “I will say I like it, and after reading his story, I respect the author. I think I just have a natural inclination or appreciation toward art.”
Ultimately, though, Schwartz and Umbarger rated “The Fall” on a scale of 1-10 with a 4.5 and a 3, respectively.
And since they were overwhelmingly disappointed in the graphic novel, which Schwartz picked for them to read, he wrapped up with this comment to Umbarger:
“Thank you for tolerating the book I took a chance on,” adding to listeners, “I hope you found our critique very entertaining.”
To hear their full conversation and critiques about “The Fall,” check out the episode on “The Newman Bond.”
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