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Big Kids

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  906 ratings  ·  95 reviews

"The Toronto cartoonist's first full-length graphic novel follows a clutch of misfit ants, trying to maintain some semblance of civilization in the shadow of war. Psychedelically gorgeous, uncomfortably funny." --Sean Rogers, Globe & Mail Best Books of 2014

The debut graphic novel from a dazzling newcome/>The/>/>"The
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published January 26th 2016)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  906 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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Jan Philipzig
By the standards of Michael DeForge, Big Kids is a relatively straightforward story. Of course, it wouldn’t be by DeForge if it wasn’t still quite a bit on the surreal, trippy, psychedelic side. “Straightforward” in this case merely means that the story’s topic can be readily identified: Big Kids is a coming-of-age story, no doubt about it. Centered around the themes of sexual identity, family violence and high-school bullying (and drug use?), it’s harsh, poetic and haunting. There is only one real comp ...more
David Schaafsma
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow, art comics and alt comics readers, this is the second full length (okay, 96 pages) graphic novel from Michael DeForge, the experimental, surrealistic artist who has done several collections of shorts until now. This one is a kind of comics coming-of-age story, initially very conventional for DeForge, feeling very memoirish, and very harsh and brutal. And then everything/everyone turns into trees and twigs. Yes, you heard that right. The boy in the story has been regularly bullied, beaten up ...more
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic
This book blew my mind, reminding me of why I fell in love with DeForge's work in the first place. So inventive, beautiful, sad, funny and original. I can't recommend this enough.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, english
this work is only possible in comics. very good.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Here's a story to wrap your head around. A young man is living an ordinary life, until one day he matures into a "tree," and he is on a higher plane of existence and can suddenly see an entirely new bizarre world populated by "trees" and "twigs."

I put these words into quotation marks because the alien-like trees and bright yellow twigs look nothing like anything found in nature.

Like the trees and twigs themselves, this story works on multiple planes. It could be a metaphor about maturity and b
Here's what the summary says:
Big Kids is simultaneously Michael DeForge's most straightforward narrative and his most complex work to date. It follows a troubled teenage boy through the transformative years of high school as he redefines his friends, his interests, and his life path. When the boy's uncle, a police officer, gets kicked out of the family's basement apartment and transferred to the countryside, April moves in. She's a college student, mysterious and cool, and she quickly takes a s/>Big
Anthony Vacca
Apr 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Deforge's latest tackles a theme familiar in his shorter work: being teenage and gay. That makes it sound triter than I intend. DeForge makes use of his surreal, acid-tinged style to relate a story about the limits of self-awareness. In the world of this little comic such a state is obtained when you realize that everyone who is either a self-aware tree (tall, angular, noodle-like beings) or a repressed twig (stumpy, limbless things), the two co-existing in dramatically different perceptions of ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I think we all have gone through a time in our life where we suddenly feel like we are on a different plane of existence than we previously inhabited. This might happen more than once as we mature, suddenly friends who were once the center of our world seem distant, former interests are no longer exciting, our goals change and our perception of the world morphs. In Big Kids DeForge shows us that world from the eyes of a teenage boy. After a break-up he finds himself transformed, into a ‘tree.’ E ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was far and away the best graphic novel I've read this year. The message is strong, but not overstated. Smart, but not inaccessible. Emotional, but not sentimental. In terms of art style, it's a little bit eerie, but unique and interesting and adds a powerful, textually inexpressible effect to the overall story, which I consider ideal for the graphic novel. The art is there to express what would be difficult in words, and vice versa; text serves primarily to narrate, to make dialogue, and t ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is Michael DeForge, coming through. Delivering. A coherent illustration of perspective-bending change, violent and desire-laden social relationships, and characteristically insular characters finding their ways in an unevenly charted world. Individually, panels are not as stunning as his shorter works rise to, but the satisfaction of the sustained delivery is compelling and genuinely moving. Very much recommended: find it at your library!
Mark Victor Young
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Totally weird and amazing. Altered perceptions a la Kafka and coming of age stuff a la the best of them. Saying a character sees the world differently is one thing; showing us their view is a mind bender. Awesome artwork and a very deeply felt narrative showing how it feels to be different.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
DeForge's typically gross and surreal take on the coming-of-age story. Lots of hilarious, weird ideas rendered in his sui generis art style. There's an insightful focus on what it means to grow up and what is gained and lost in the process.
Liz Yerby
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is one narrative which I think is why I enjoy it so much out of what I've read by deforge so far. It covers young sexuality, gay stuff, awkward teenage feelings well while also getting into his surreal yet beautiful body horror type stuff and is just a real good strong work as a result.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Well this is certainly...imaginative.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
i liked this + finished it in one sitting. the becoming a tree thing was v interesting, albeit a little vague (i did find myself wanting to know more about a lot but it was great as it was too). i thought it was a puberty thing until it mentioned how many adults were still 'twigs' as well as how differently the characters came about the transition. is it a part of becoming ~enlightened~?

i felt a kind of anxiety reading it, i think because picturing my reality turning into something so trippy/su
Mateen Mahboubi
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
My first DeForge. Looking into reading more.
A fascinating coming of age story. Every bit as creative as it is insightful.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Much like his recent Brat, Michael DeForge’s Big Kids dresses up as a countercultural comic, but is in fact a story dedicated to privilege and elitist cultural gatekeeping.

In Big Kids, when a select few people reach a certain point in their lives, an epiphany strikes. When it does, those select people become “trees” and a new plane of existence and experience opens up to them. While it seems to be an epiphany that often strikes people as they grow up, many (or most) never experience
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, favorites
So far, this is the best book of 2016. As usual I'm disappointed with the GR reviews about it. It's best not to know anything about the plot because it's so short and it's much more rewarding to figure the book out for yourself. The top review right now takes issue with how the book doesn't match up with the description given by the publisher, but I think that those kinds of blurbs are misleading by nature and can only serve to under or overstate the central ideas of the work.

There are twigs an
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
*Spoiler Alert*

Admittedly I was hesitant about reading a coming-of-age book slathered with sick shades of pink and yellow that I knew from reading a review went off at an unexpected tangent about trees. I was afraid it was going to be drug-addled babble: incomprehensibly odd, seemingly for the sake of novelty without an attempted message.

This is brilliant. The tree and twig analogy makes sense to me two those two general classes of people: absolutists vs relativists, P vs
Zack! Empire
Jun 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: indie-comics
So I think this book confirms that I am just not a fan of Michael deforge. I know a lot of people think that he is just really great but I just don't get it. Visually he's got some pretty interesting stuff going on especially in this book. But they were also parts of it that just seemed really lazy. There are Pages where the panels just consists of a character's head turning in a circle so you get the front view a side view and the back of their head. It just made it really boring to look at. Al ...more
Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another surreal but affecting comic by DeForge. As with all of his work, there are elements of traditional storytelling but told in a completely original way. I would classify this as a "coming of age" story in which the protagonist gains a new perspective and changes in a fundamental way, but through DeForge's weirdifying filter.

DeForge draws in a way that is both compelling and repellent. His stories invariably leave you uncomfortable. My only complaint about this book is that the type was so
André Habet
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ten-plus-5-is-10
Although de Forge's work may seem detached, his comics a level of pathos to them that makes me feel on the verge of tears with each panel. Third of his book that I've read, and although 'Ant Colony' was much funnier, this book feels perfect right down to its cute tiny formatting.
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliant, Beautiful, and Bizarre.

This is one of his more cohesive works, if you can believe it ;)

Very original, but also very weird.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, for-class
honestly have no idea what just happened. the art is really beautiful. the story is...very confusing, but certainly has a vibe. i think it's quite depressing, and one-sided in that there's an obvious bias given to the "tree" side. april seems to be the main lens through which adam sees his new world, but i think she's absolutely meant to be an unreliable narrator. even though being a "twig" seems to be lesser, it seems that adam is very sad and broken at the end.

overall i think this is very wei
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another unforgettable story by Michael DeForge. I'm a big fan of his style of illustration, "Big Kids" is similar to Ant Colony in the comically adorable facial expressions of his characters.

"Big Kids", about a couple of big kids who grow into trees, and the other kids around them that stay small twigs. The story is a familiar coming-of-age one, but spun on the concept of a society split into two groups of people. Tree people experience the world with more sensitivity, while twig peo
Michael Yang
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
a quick read. some thoughts:
- was originally really drawn to the illustrations; and they are really funky and beautiful. i wish there were more full page panels and i wish that the book was larger format
- very surreal and unsettling, with humor at times
- the beginning half is superb, and sets up a great atmosphere for the narrative. very strong concept
- really wish it were longer! the ending is abrupt, and although i sort of get that this could be part of it being weird a
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
The art and color starts out very simple; simple lines and shapes, and then it turns very surreal, the art moreso than the colors. It's visually very interesting.

The books is sort of about growing up and realizing you've changed and trying to figure out how to handle that change. Cause you're still you, just not the same you that you used to be. You feel a little wiser by the end, but not that much more knowledgeable. Which is how life works out.

My only complaint is reall
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, 2018
This is a gorgeous, poignant memoir-ish comic that uses bold surrealism as a way to explore adolescence, puberty, and coming out. DeForge's psychedelic art is almost synesthetic, and he frequently employs a kind of irony where the surrealism of the imagery is belied by more mundane descriptions in the text. It lends an off-kilter feeling to the whole story, underscoring the feeling of changing perspectives and extra-sensory understanding- the kind of thing that's only possible in comics. DeForge ...more
miles honey
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i need to read this a few more times before i can talk about it. i read it before bed to unwind and ended up not being able to sleep. i almost got overdue fines from the library even because i kept holding onto it even though i knew i wasn't going to be able to read it again this soon. it hit me so hard in such an obtuse way it's hard to think about.
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Michael DeForge lives in Toronto, Ontario. His comics and illustrations have been featured in Jacobin, The New York Times, Bloomberg, The Believer, The Walrus and Maisonneuve Magazine. He worked as a designer on Adventure Time for six seasons. His published books include Very Casual, A Body Beneath, Ant Colony, First Year Healthy, Dressing, Big Kids, Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero and A Western World. ...more
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