Of the few web series worth following over the past decade, Bendito Machine may be the only one from 2005 still going strong today. With Bendito, creator Jossie Malis, has built a world in which primitive cultures stumble through inevitable corruption of religion, politics, and technology. Episode 4 (Fuel the Machine) deals with transportation technology and all its ecological implications. We follow a villager’s journey over land, sea, and air as his methods of transport, and consequently its impact on the environment, slowly escalate.
Overall, the Bendito series has all the uncomfortable familiarity of Horace Miner’s short essay Nacirema. Why show all these terrible things happen to a primitive society? We naturally want to find differences that support our own superiority. But if we can see the common ground, then we accept that there’s an underlying greed in human nature that we can’t engineer our way out of.
One could argue that this episode is more heavy-handed than those previous, but it’s also grander in scale. Jossie’s always played well with scale, but even more so in this episode. He can bring life to the smallest of shapes and then make man’s greatest attempts seem utterly insignificant. it produces an odd voyeuristic quality where you feel like a god looking down on something play out with surprising realism—almost like watching an ant colony.
Jossie’s unique vision of simplified shapes can be seen in other (but not necessarily derivative) works like The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello. However, Jossie’s world is less “steam punk” and more “shaman punk”. Done mostly in Flash, he relies on simple black shapes against colored backgrounds.
We’ve been big fans of Jossie since we featured the first Bendito Machine in our early days. On the heels of the release of episode 4 is a Kickstarter campaign to fund the next two episodes. Jossie has built a rich world with Bendito, and if it something you’d like to see more of (including stickers, posters, and t-shirts) hop on over and help him make it happen.