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Tim Ginger

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The prize-winning British cartoonist Julian Hanshaw makes his American debut with the rich and meditative story of Tim Ginger. Once a government test pilot, now a widow, Tim enjoys a quiet retirement in New Mexico... until a conspiracy theorist starts asking uncomfortable questions, and the haunting reappearance of an old friend provokes some hard choices about when to let go and when to hold on.

160 pages, Paperback

First published August 11, 2015

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Julian Hanshaw

12 books2 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,484 reviews12.8k followers
May 12, 2016
Hey guys, did you know that some of us don’t have or want kids and that’s ok? I had no idea anything quite so obvious needed to be stated but see how quickly I did that, Julian Hanshaw? Didn’t need a 150 page book to draw that shit out!

Tim Ginger is a comic in dire need of something - anything - happening in it. Our dull protagonist is a retired military test pilot who might’ve seen some extra-terrestrial stuff during one flight but now lives alone - his wife’s dead and they never had kids - in a trailer park. One day he meets an old friend who’s also childless and making a comic about people who don’t have kids and their reasons for that choice - as if having kids is all anyone should be doing with their lives!!

Reading Tim Ginger was such a chore because nothing’s going on in it. Having read Hanshaw’s two previous books, The Art of Pho and I’m Never Coming Back, I knew he’s not exactly the most enlivening storyteller but this one was several steps down even from those slow-moving reads. He’s got nothing to say about people who choose not to have kids, the characters are dreary (Tim likes cricket - so?), the story is non-existent, the art is uninteresting - the whole book is one long unrewarding slog.

I think Hanshaw’s aiming for some profound statement on existence but he never once came close to achieving it here. When you lose the love of your life, you get sad and might never recover from it. Yup, stating the obvious again - and? If you think blank-faced characters staring at clouds and not saying anything is emotional depth then this is one deeply emotional read!

Tim Ginger shows that you can do comics about just about anything but not every subject contains a story nor does it mean that the end result will be compelling to read. I got nothing out of this one except pure boredom - definitely not recommending this snore-fest to anyone!
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
February 10, 2016
This is a lovely graphic novel with a sweet and somewhat predictable ending that nevertheless is complex and surprising and subtle in many ways throughout. Tim Ginger, former government test pilot, now a widow, is retired and living in a trailer in New Mexico near where she died and he lost his sight in a plane accident. He has written about something he thought he saw, something dark about the government, so he gets invited to conspiracy/ufo conventions to speak. He also plays cricket since he is English, with a lot of ex-pats from around the world that play cricket, so has decided to write his next work on cricket. Still, he can't leave his dead wife, so in many ways he is still just an aging guy who is rooted in the past. But he is moving on from conspiracy to cricket, a fun thing for him.

An old friend cartoonist writing about people who decide not to have children, a woman, Anna, runs into him and interviews and draws him, a childless guy. Some mild flirtation ensues. . . and ends where? Gotta read it, not gonna say.

The real hero of this ultimately conventional tale that I liked as a "late middle-aged" guy (which is to say 63, okay, could be old from your perspective) is Hanshaw's art. He focuses on interesting tonal details in single panels, he uses contemplative coloring, to create mood and pace. And in terms of panel construction Henshaw paces the story so that we don't know much about what is going on for a long time, and this pacing is appropriate to a contemplative late-middle age tale.

So details of plot are released gradually. And it's a unique plot, from conspiracy theories to comics to grief to stars. . . and a kind of metaphorical flight into the future. Some weird poetic images that are also beautiful. It doesn't all quite fit--like for instance the childless couple comic-making doesn't connect so obviously with some other themes, and the conspiracy theory issue is not so obviously central, but that kind of thing makes it less cheesy and simplistic than it otherwise might have been for me. It's not just an old-dude-finds-himself genre tale. Though it is that in part, too. It's just that the texture is more complex in Hanshaw's version of events.

It's a kind of "message" comic, sure, and a sort of common one--don't hold on to the past, no matter how good that past was--but it's also a pretty darned pleasing one, for my money, done by an accomplished artist in interesting ways. I liked it a lot, very sweet story.
Profile Image for Dov Zeller.
Author 2 books105 followers
January 25, 2016
It's possible this book starts out with a quote by Dolly Parton. Yep, I'm pretty sure it does. "I never really had the desire to have children. My husband didn't want them either, so it worked out well."

Yep. This is one strange book. Whatever you're expecting, it's likely to quietly evade your expectations.

(There are likely spoilers in this review, FYI).

"Tim Ginger" is partly a meditation on the topic of adults who choose not to have children (or who for some other reason don't have children.) How do I explain this? A character Anna is researching the topic and doing a graphic documentary book on the topic? Or has already written her book and is now continuing her research and interviewing the character Tim Ginger?

And some of her interviews are in the book.

So, fictional documentary material within a book that is a fictional biography?

Anna, the one researching adults who don't have children, is a long-time friend of Tim Ginger's, and a potential romantic companion. They knew each other before Ginger's wife Susan died, had some kind of flirtation, and Ginger still feels guilty about it.

This is also a story about isolation, mourning and letting go. The question of what constitutes live, active living. Tim Ginger spends a very long time mourning the death of his wife, and nearly loses his ability to connect with people about things other than the game cricket. He becomes fairly reclusive, and his connection with Anna shakes him up quite a bit, and forces him to consider vulnerability and forgiveness (forgiving himself).

And, the book is part mystery. Something to do with Tim Ginger's job as a test pilot. And extra terrestrials? (We never quite get the answers to certain questions: what kind of strange accident did Tim Ginger have? Were there extra-terrestrials involved? Did his wife really die at the same moment his aircraft wrecked? Could the universe really be seen through his imploded eye -- gift of aircraft accident?)

So, what is this book about? Tim Ginger, kind of. Self-protection. Wacky humans. The desert. Companionship. Loyalty and expectations.

I am not sure I loved this book, but the art is compelling -- the colors, the style, the intensity of emotion and restraint. It's certainly a curious piece of art and literature. Oddly organized. Fragmented. But there's a kind of earnest emotional depth to it, and a quiet humor. It's gentle and that's sometimes the most heart-breaking thing about it. A gentle-book that will leave you thoughtful and a little heart-broken and wondering how anyone understands the rules of cricket (or maybe people just make them up as they go along? Julian Hanshaw sure did!)

Profile Image for Derek Royal.
Author 13 books71 followers
November 3, 2015
A very moving story, and one of the strongest I've read all year. The tone is measured and contemplative. Hanshaw is adept at drawing out his story in narratively strategic ways, and one of the ways he handles this is through panel perspective. The many images he presents are close-ups on objects within the setting, many of which reveal undertone or mood. So both in craft and in story, Hanshaw knows how to present a narrative.
Profile Image for Stewart Tame.
2,304 reviews89 followers
June 13, 2016
Impressive work! I'd not heard of Julian Hanshaw before, but this looked intriguing. It's pretty much a character study of Mr. Ginger, a former test pilot, cricket enthusiast, and widower living in a trailer in the New Mexico desert. There's mybe a touch of magic realism to the story, which involves conspiracy theorists, UFOs, a former love interest, comics, and an eyepatch. That sounds more lively and exciting than it's meant to. This is not an action/adventure yarn, but a character study. Ginger's state of mind and the choices he makes are the focus here. It's a quiet, moving little story. I suspect Hanshaw of being a fan of the British band, Love and Rockets, as, at one point, Ginger says, "... Live the life you love, Karl. Choose a God you trust. And don't take it all so seriously," which is pretty much a direct quote from their 1985 song, "A Private Future." Anyway, an enjoyable book, well worth reading. I'll definitely be looking for more from Mr. Hanshaw.
Profile Image for Marc.
762 reviews107 followers
January 28, 2016
Wistful and melancholic. A triumph of cricket over conspiracy theory. If it ever gets made into a film, Tommy Lee Jones should play the lead role.
Profile Image for Sarah.
90 reviews
April 22, 2023
The art in this graphic novel is beautiful, and I like how the coloring is used to differentiate time/space. It’s a bit of a wistful, sometimes dull story, though that does mimic well the main character’s personality. I appreciated the progression of grief storyline, which I suppose is the underlying motivation for Tom Ginger. The “childless by choice” theme weaved throughout is strong and confusing though. I’m trying to remember if in 2015 that was less common than 8 years later now, but maybe it’s more of a generational difference with the author and myself.
Profile Image for Marcus.
42 reviews1 follower
September 1, 2015
Ostensibly this comic is about a former test pilot who thinks he saw something on one of his flights and who lost his wife to an early death. However it is really a book that has a deep and profound theme applicable to almost every adult in the western world over the age of thirty. We must let go of the past to allow progress to a happier future. We don't forget the past and the people and places we knew, but they cease to act as a chain tethering us to something we can never return to.

In between the main tale are excerpts from a comic written by an old female colleague and object of mild flirtation, Anna. These all deal with people who decided not to have children, their reasons why and reactions to sometimes passive-aggressive queries as to why they have made this choice. These parts of the comic, whilst entertaining, don't really seem to add anything to it. I'd have liked them to act as a sort of comment on the main narrative, the classic example being the pirate comic excerpts in Watchmen, but they don't seem to function in this way, or if they do I'm missing it. In and of themselves however they are well designed, with a change to black and white and a page design that makes it appear you have just left the current comic and opened Anna's book yourself.

Overall this is a lovely book with a touching story. There is a hint of Kevin Huizenga about the art, especially in the opening aspect-to-aspect panel transitions, the occasional focus on wildlife, which to my mind acts as metaphor for the internal struggles of our protagonist, and in the line. Colour is s strong point too, with a very tight palette used effectively to indicate both time and place.

One final comment on the lettering. I like those subtle details which work on a subconscious level whilst you're reading, and there are a couple of these. The first is what appears to be a slight change to a more formal style when Tim and Anna first say hello when getting reacquainted over a cup of coffee after they have met again at a convention. Following the initial greetings, where they must have been nervous and slightly apprehensive, the lettering quickly returns to the more informal style which looks almost like handwriting and contributes to the feeling of intimacy we have with the tale. The second is where Tim's agent tries to start chatting Anna up, to which her exasperated “REALLY?” is all in upper-case. Small details but they help communicate the feelings of the characters in a very efficient and effective way.

There is a message that comes through strongly. We are all made of the stars, and a glimpse of the universe lets him know we are all connected, and out in the desert under in the almost total darkness you can see so much more of the universe than under the urban light-polluted sky. Don't be scared of the dark times. Once accepted they will help you to see the light that much better, and it can be quite majestic.
Profile Image for The Laughing Man.
286 reviews50 followers
February 25, 2016
It kind of felt like reading my own story in a different context, I feel what he feels deep inside. Simple yet moving story.
Profile Image for Josh.
215 reviews16 followers
June 20, 2016
I'm just relieved it's over; This was quite boring.
Profile Image for Anna.
41 reviews
November 23, 2022
when I started reading this, I didn't like it very much, and intended to put it down. the subject of cricket was instantly boring to me. I considered how this might be directed towards men, and struggled with this idea that I can only read women's stories, or something? which would have been a troubling conclusion. However, as I kept reading along, I began to realize that this was an exploration of more than just cricket.

themes: death, eternity, long lost love, the obligations of widowers, conspiracy theories

I have an affinity for stories that are non-traditional (meaning between a young man/young woman) love stories. Susan, Anna and Tim is not the typical story. there is this consideration of whether to be lonely or to love, which is an active choice in many cases. you are picking which path you want for yourself. Tim reckons with how to still love his wife and move on, in a way that wouldn't disrespect her memory.

my favorite scene is when Tim answers Karl's question in the auditorium. He is compassionate but also firm in his belief. I felt that Tim really cared about Karl, and wanted him to see how good his life could be, if only he could accept the not knowing. It encapsulated how I feel about my own life often. Throughout this novel, there was a lot to consider in terms of what it means to live well, especially when facing death.

beautiful art too, this is the best graphic novel I've read in 2022 so far
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jemmie.
128 reviews2 followers
October 19, 2021
For me, this sweet little bubble of a story, is made so powerful by the details. The way it subtly looses me in a day dream, and I forget where I am. The themes of childlessness, heirlessness, selfishness, probing in the background. They ground you back to reality. A word like "selfishness" in the context of the graphic novel's conversation stabs like a sharp knife. Characters toss the word around a lot, mostly directed at Tim. Is it selfish for Tim to not want to share himself with the world? He won't share his knowledge, his relationship, with the outside world or even a child. Over fear? "Selfishness"? A strong willful drive to live for yourself and no one else? It's true that no one should have children because someone wants to be a grandmother, or write a particular book because impatient young people think your ideas are boring.
Profile Image for Blue.
1,129 reviews43 followers
October 21, 2018
Tim Ginger by Julian Hanshaw is a slow, contemplative novel about grief and existence. Hanshaw's drawings capture moments and quiet scenes effectively. The color scheme is fantastic. Though the story is a bit confusing at times, with flashbacks and dream sequences adding to the confusion, the brilliant surreal dream and hallucination sequences are not to be missed. In the end, I thought the romance was a bit thin, meaning, that Anna could finally jolt Tim out of his grief-stricken stupor was not that believable. The conspiracy theory convention humor and the publishing agent stuff were hilarious. Hanshaw should consider a follow up where Mark is stalking Tim Ginger to find out his big government secret, and having to attend cricket conventions and games to do so!
Profile Image for P..
2,416 reviews79 followers
August 1, 2018
I've come to realize Top Shelf publications have a certain flavor. This is a very Top Shelf book! A story that I could tell comes from one mind, one vision, with art that has its own individual tone, a meditation on alienation and isolation through a particular lens - in this case, a middle-aged(?) man who was a test pilot and had a strange experience on the day his wife died and hasn't really recovered from it, but survives alone in a trailer the North American desert and only gets joy from playing cricket.

It's a story that doesn't have emotional resonance for me and wasn't that successful at transmitting the character's emotions to me as a reader. I'm glad that it's out there.
Profile Image for Raina.
1,596 reviews125 followers
August 9, 2020
It's interesting to me that this is by a British guy (who currently lives in the UK, according to the bio), but it is set in New Mexico.

kw: retirement, child-free, aliens, RV life, human connection, cricket, single living, thoughtful

Extra happy thoughts for the attention to child-free intention.

The coloring work stands out here. The muted, intentional use of color makes it a pleasure to flip through.
Profile Image for Sarah.
119 reviews
April 7, 2021
I don't know how to say this nicely - it was boring, but I enjoyed it all the same. The story was interesting enough from the outside, and the art was surreal and mysterious with an amazing color pallet. However, the writing kept me wishing that there was some sort of cohesion to keep everything tied together more nicely. Tim doesn't want kids - that's fine and well, but he's also wrapped up in some other happenings that drive the whole plot. Please, just tell me one story at a time.
Profile Image for David.
1,252 reviews2 followers
March 25, 2021
Surprisingly good. It's an odd story, but human and I can identify with the characters even when their experience is completely foreign to my own.

I can't understand his fascination with cricket. It's a strange game. I should try playing sometime.

I admire his ability to set aside loss, fear, and the happiness that was in order to embrace the happiness of now.
Profile Image for Madeline S..
92 reviews
April 9, 2023
How do you move on from loss in the twilight of your life? This graphic novel was a contemplative examination of that question. The different parts illuminated Tim and his journey just enough to compel you to the next page without being too probing. Lots of tender and touching surprises sprinkled in.

Format: print
Discovery: library
Profile Image for Shelby Ann.
Author 1 book2 followers
April 27, 2018
A strange story line that makes you consider what carrying on the family tree really means. A journey through the eyes of a man who lost his wife and is conflicted with how he is to live the remainder of his life. An eyeopening story to other point of views of what having kids really entitles.
Profile Image for Shannon.
503 reviews12 followers
September 11, 2018
Odd and lonely, Tim Ginger contemplates life in the desert of New Mexico. In the dour spirit of Chris Ware, whose work I immensely enjoy, Tim Ginger falls somewhat flat. I love the style and pacing of this graphic novel but wished to be more emotionally moved by the plot.
Profile Image for Simon Sweetman.
Author 9 books47 followers
November 29, 2017
A very clever, unique story - brilliantly told through the images and text, well spaced, paced, the best graphic novel I've encountered in a wee while...
Profile Image for Abigail Monhollen.
92 reviews6 followers
May 4, 2018
Super interesting. Something about Tim's character development is endearing, and I'm so happy with how it ended. I also loved the illustrations and the color choice.
Profile Image for Tom Gaetjens.
599 reviews1 follower
October 23, 2019
Bleak and somewhat indecipherable, reaches for a deeper meaning that just barely eludes its grasp.
Profile Image for Amber.
2,830 reviews28 followers
May 30, 2022
Tim Ginger has such a lovely ring of a name. Nice bloke. I thought it was pretty good, but I don't know if I get it quite yet.
Profile Image for Ollie.
446 reviews19 followers
March 22, 2016
Do you know why it’s probably a good idea for anyone interested in comics to stay away from the mainstream DC/Marvel stuff? Because not in a million years would you read a book like Tim Ginger if you did.

The concept of Tim Ginger is both unique, extravagant, and at the same time very simple. It deals with a topic that most of don’t think about which is parenthood, and more specifically what it’s like for people who never wanted to be parents (more so than the irritating justification it requires to friends and family). Protagonist Tim Ginger is most definitely a well-adjusted average man (except for the fact that he loves cricket) that has unfortunately been caught in a series of extraordinary events because of his past as a test pilot. He wrote a book about the experience which has taken a life of its own and gotten him the wrong kind of attention. Helped by the “fame” of his book, this recluse is forced out of his comfort zone in order to get some closure on certain loose ends of his life.

Cool, yes, but what grabs me most about Tim Ginger is how it deals with the question of life and loneliness. If a couple can find all the happiness they need in each other, why have children? But when one of them dies, where does that leave the remaining partner? Where is their source of happiness going to come from? It’s a complicated question involving lots of soul searching. And it’s definitely something this book has: soul and lots of heart.
Profile Image for The_Mad_Swede.
1,316 reviews
June 23, 2020
I picked this up on the spur of the moment at library and I am not quite sure why.

It is a weird meditative graphic novel, centred on eponymous ex government test pilot Tim Ginger, who now lives alone in the New Mexico desert. He has written one book on his experiences, which is the talk of conspiracy theorists, and is writing another ... about cricket (a passion he has picked up). And when he makes an appearance at a convention he runs into an old acquaintance from his past, a woman who has made a (somewhat weird) comic which is all brief vignettes about or portraits of people whom nobody would usually pay any attention.

All in all, I liked this strange piece.
Profile Image for John  Mihelic.
415 reviews21 followers
April 19, 2016
I don��t know how to put this in a way that doesn’t seem like a back-hand compliment, so I’m just going to say that I really liked this book. What made it stand out is the story about love and mystery and fighter jets and loss. The art sort of takes a back seat until the very end, which is what makes it feel back-handed. “Good job, Mr. Graphic Novelist, That art didn’t really stand out. “

But the story fits the genre and is necessary for the cool moment at the end whicih is the payoff for the rest of the book. Overall, a worthy read.
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