Raina had just gotten braces on her teeth when a far more serious dental tragedy struck. After a Girl Scout meeting she tripped and fell. One of her f...moreRaina had just gotten braces on her teeth when a far more serious dental tragedy struck. After a Girl Scout meeting she tripped and fell. One of her front teeth was knocked out completely, the other one was knocked far into her gums. The rest of the memoir reflects on Raina's experiences with corrective orthodontia (and other specializations that will give the average reader dental nightmares) as well as chronicling her puberty and growing up processes. Raina isn't always brave about what is happening to her mouth, but she's always relatable. In fact, the art, the story, the characters are all so relatable (to someone with a middle class background and decent health and dental insurance, anyway.) Though dental drama and orthodontia seem mundane, what they really are are the things that those of us who've experienced them don't just forget, but actively push to the corners of our memories. Bravo to Raina Telgemeier for being able to pull the experience out and use it to flesh out her coming of age story into something recognizable to every kid who ever had headgear or remembers what it felt like to have a guy reach into your mouth, tighten a wire, and make eating painful to impossible for the next several days. (less)
A heart attack kills the father of two young boys, leaving their mother to raise them alone. One of the boys, Harvey, is obsessed with an old movie th...moreA heart attack kills the father of two young boys, leaving their mother to raise them alone. One of the boys, Harvey, is obsessed with an old movie that no one else cares about.
Reading this book is like finding a moleskine someone left at a table in an independent coffee shop. You could pick it up, flip through, digest quickly and forget everything as soon as you close the last page. The book would seem confusing and pretensious and the character drawings juvenile. Or you could savor, take your time, and still feel the book resonate in your head long after you close it.
The art, while the characters are stripped down and simplistic, the textures and colors and backgrounds are so beautiful and detailed. Patterns drift off clothing onto the page and reform to mean something else.I want to take the wallpapers and fabric patterns off the pages and dress my house and myself in them. I want to live in this book, until it gets too sad.
The story of grief is so simple seeming, while at the same time, asks big questions. In addtion to grief the book touches on questions of existance. How often do you ponder that everyone knows a slightly different version of someone then everyone else knows. The father I know is not the exact same father my sister knows, while at the same time, he is father to us both, and it is the same for Harvey and his brother Canton and their father. The pages without text sometimes speak as loudly as those with a paragraph.
**spoiler alert** There is a device in fiction (and sadly, sometimes in real life) that I can not abide. When adopted/ive family members, for whatever...more**spoiler alert** There is a device in fiction (and sadly, sometimes in real life) that I can not abide. When adopted/ive family members, for whatever reason, are considered less than and not equal to biological family. My mom, my uncle, and a cousin I didn't know I had until just a few years ago were all adopted by their parents. Two things in this otherwise charming series of somewhat disjointed vignettes ruined my enjoyment because of my particular bias.
The first is one of the 7 siblings adopted makes out with one of the other siblings. These children were raised as brothers and sisters from nearly birth.(This family is comprised from 7 of 43 babies that were spontaneously simultaneously expelled as full formed infants from women who had not shown any signs of pregnancy. The Hargreeve's could only find these 7 left from that incident and he adopts them all as soon as possible after they are born.)
I don't know about you, but because I was raised in the United States and ingrained with certain views on incest, I'm grossed out by sibling makeouts even if the siblings weren't "biologically related." Maybe this was an intentional gross-out factor? The other moment that set me off is at the very end--not even in the main story arc, but a part of extra stories at the end--a villain asks the rough/broody Wolverinish character, Kraken,if it will bother him to see his whole family killed he says, "Not Really--we're adopted." My blood boiled my vision went hazy and red and I turned into The Awkwardable Hulk. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. Mostly because now I'm going to tear your book--that you obviously worked hard on to prove that you aren't just another alcoholic rock star--apart.*
Of course, I don't know how intentional it is, but if you haven't noticed by now the story is a bit of a spoof (or rip-off, depending on just how much you really hate My Chemical Romance) on the X-men, with the enigmatic "father" Prof.X-type figure being a total Jerkface McGee to his family. Though actually other than the whole raising up the mutanty superpowered kids Hargreeve is more "Dr. Kellogg" from The Road to Wellville than Prof.X. He's such an over-acheiver who expects too much from children that the "unspecial" one actually writes a tell-all memoir. I like that each of the main characters is as dysfunctional as they are special, and each in their own way. And I like that instead of much world-saving the family is mostly showcased at some of their worst moments.
Okay, I have to admit, the adoption thing does bother me, a lot, and the storytelling is choppy at best. But it IS interesting, and there is a talking chimpanzee named Dr. Pogo, whose hideous past is only briefly hinted at (these hints are actually the choppy/disjointedness I'm talking about. I get what they were going for but it really didn't work for me.) Actually there were a few little moments of humor in the book, for instance I crack up at the repeated use of "space" as a modifying descriptor for "alien." But maybe that is just me.
The art is great. The Viole Blanche is well imagined and beautiful, if not the most original idea. But still the whole flawed superhero thing is starting to be as tedious as the whole perfect superhero thing was during the golden age.
*I know, low blow, but google "drunk Gerard Way" and you will get 138,000 results. I understand sudden fame is difficult to handle and according to internets he is not drinking anymore, good for him. (less)