Ezra Clayton Daniels is a creator who consistently finds poignant, captivating ways to get his ideas out. Whether it’s the Twilight Zone adjacent Upgrade Soul, the socially aware Bttm Fdrs (with art by Ben Passmore) or his deceptive zine Pressure, he writes and draws with a message under the surface. With Ezra’s minicomic Are You at Risk For “Empathy Myopia”? (published physically by Radiator Comics) he forgoes the story and comes up front and center with research and experiences witnessing privilege and empathy, though often not at the same time.
In a series of five segments Ezra explains how human nature can shift and transform depending on the mind set (and often financial state) of an individual. We start with an explanation of the narrative lens which we see our world in. The way we see things shifts depending on our personal beliefs, allowing for excuses and justifications for the bad things that may happen to/because of/around us. As that mindset has gone on, humanity has as well, shifting to the vague colloquialism “Everything happens for a reason”, as one way to justify the good for the prosperous and be solace for the unfortunate. What follows is an explanation of how privilege can continue a cycle of self rationalization that keeps those up high elevated but doesn’t leave much room for those who aren’t at the same level of “success”. The idea that folks do this self rationalization and react as a protective individual leaves little room to care for the issues of others, which many time results in a misplaced outward focus that narrow and tightens on those outside of this affluent club. That right there is Empathy Myopia.
Ezra’s illustration style is a bit different then what you may have seen in Upgrade Soul. The images are magnified and we can see every sketched line, almost making it feel like a well detailed storyboard. Though there isn’t a main character exactly there are plenty of character models on each one panel page, ranging from the Joe Schmoes of the world to politicians to Severus Snape and beyond. One thing that Ezra handles consistently well is expression, and those aforementioned characters are no exception. Particularly in this book he has a way of illustrating a smug expression on those clearly afflicted with Empathy Myopia, furthering his point. Color wise everything is very pastel, with most of the book being purple, yellow, or green, often in unexpected combinations.
This book isn’t so much opinion as an informative thesis. With a well stocked bibliography Ezra brings these ideas of inward thinking and moralizing to those who may not have realized they existed. This book takes the approach of educating and presenting the ideas of a general empathy deficiency among us in an approachable format. I highly recommend you check out this title, you can read it from Ezra’s site or the buy the book physically here.