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3.43  ·  Rating details ·  331 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews

Mid-Life is the story of John, who at forty becomes a father again with his much younger second wife, which results in a slow, painful attack by flowered baby bags and front-facing baby carriers on his former virility and self-identity. John always believed that age is a state of mind; however, his adult daughters, baby son, energetic
Paperback, 184 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Drawn and Quarterly
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Community Reviews

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Rating details
Sort: Default
I was surprised at how much I liked this.
I mean, there are a few fictionalized, torn-from-life, graphic novels about flailing, aging cartoonists out there.

And maybe, if that was all this was, I'd let my star rating rest at 3*.

But then he throws in the Death to Smoochy factor.
And that was the part that I cared about.

As far as execution goes, he uses the 9-panel layout serviceably, effectively. His illustrations bring to mind a toned-down, more angular, more accessible Derf Backderf for me.

I'm no
Hannah Garden
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: august-2017, comics
So this is the story of a 40-year old guy who is having a hard time because his body is not as erotic to young women as it used to be, he's got a shitty non-relationship with his ex-wife, strained relationships with his adult daughters from that marriage, is acting like a butt to his new wife, who is younger and with whom he has a baby, and isn't feeling super compelled about his work, which is showing up in his performance and causing the bosses to mention it to him.

Secondary storyline is a ch
David Schaafsma
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: alt-comics
This is the first novel by the author of the short story collection, Happy Stories about Well-Adjusted People, which I loved. I like his work in the short form better, as misery works better short than long, I think. And it's always misery, with a sense of humor, for Ollmann. It's like Woody Allen, anhedonia, though the tone is slightly different. More harsh, a little less funny, though still funny, at times. Bracingly honest. This is in the area of Joe Matt's Spent and Chester Brown's Paying Fo ...more
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Partly fictionalized telling of his mid-life realizations, mixed in were a woman's own and thoughts and regrets. Not sure what I was expecting, there was some honesty here, but also nothing surprising or novel, which may have been the point...
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A pretty good character study of a (very) flawed man. I enjoy Ollmann's depictions of people, and would definitely read more.
Mary Shyne
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A somewhat refreshing, definitely more self-aware take on the American male indie comics confessional.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you've read more than a couple of autobiographical comics or seen any Woody Allen movies the plot of Mid-Life will seem quite familiar to you. 40 year old John is having a mid-life crisis. He’s just become a father again with his young second wife, he doesn’t have a great relationship with his first two daughters and he is becoming irrelevant at work. As his problems multiply he feels sorry for himself and starts looking at younger women thinking he might be happier with them. This kind of st ...more
Jun 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting read.
It was almost like watching a child standing close to a cake. He's been told not to touch it, he's not hungry, in fact he's full, but he likes cake, there it is in front of him and it doesn't matter that he's satisfied and doesn't need a thing - he wants cake. Maybe just a little lick of icing. Oh, the guilt! I didn't need that but, that's pretty tasty maybe if I just...and so on.
Apparently parts of this are autobiographical, which is pretty bold if true. I had th
David Stewart
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a strange graphic novel. It is, as the title would suggest, about a man in the middle of his life. He's forty years old, once divorced and remarried, and has recently birthed a third child with his new wife, their first child. The mid-life crisis story is one that's been told a thousand or more times, but there is a genuine quality to the tale in Ollman's view of things, and it's clear that if this isn't largely biographical, that it at least draws many parallels to his own life.

The sto
Matt Graupman
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Finding yourself at the mid-point of your life can be an unsettling prospect and John, the protagonist of Joe Ollmann's wonderful semi-autobiographical comic "Mid-Life," is struggling with the idea. Remarried to a younger woman, with a new baby in addition to a pair of adult daughters, rapidly losing his physique, and floundering at work, John questions all the decisions that led him to this stage of his life, ultimately focusing his fantasies for a better life on Sherry Smalls, the pretty singe ...more
Derek Royal
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this, Joe Ollmann's first graphic novel...with an underscore on "novel." I'm familiar with his shorter pieces, I guess what one would call the short-story equivalent to the "graphic novel." His longer-form narrative is similar to style/characteristics he employs in Happy Stories about Well-Adjusted People, but I can tell that the more sustained format required different kinds of storytelling strategies. The most noticeable one is his use of two different narrators (or focalizers?) in t ...more
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those books just found by accident. You know, that whole "I'm standing in the far end of the library trying to kill time because we trade off on who gets to look for books and who sits in the kid section reading ZOOLIFE magazine to the almost-four-year-old" kind of moment. So as a stumbled upon book, I was very impressed with this find. He got me from the very start. A man surrounded by poop, cats, diapers, litter boxes, feet-killing toys, a house that needs *real* cleaning, an a ...more
Mark Victor Young
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Great feeling of verisimilitude to this quasi-autobiographical work of fiction. It's the story of a 40-year old remarried father of 3 who has a new baby son with his second (younger) wife and a full-blown crisis on the way. Also in crisis is children's entertainer Sherri Smalls, with whom the main character becomes smitten. Not enough going on in his life, I guess. There was genuine humour in his self-loathing, crusty persona and the cataloguing of his many faults. Good characters and a good sto ...more
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I often don't go for the "alternative" comics because most of the time, the art is just plain ugly (I guess I'm superficial for expecting artists to draw better than myself). I gave this one a shot though because it is about a 40-year old (who acts and looks like he's 50) who is going through some mid-life issues. Married at 17, divorced once, has two grown daughters, remarried, new baby. In short period between the two marriages, he spent an ample amount of time on drugs, booze, and one-night s ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: comics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This semi-autobiographical story at one point mocks itself about how it's banal, yet complicated plot about a remarried dad with work and family problems would make for a lousy movie, but I had been thinking while reading (and debating whether to keep reading--it's a word dense novel and takes some time to get through) that it would in fact probably make a better indie movie than a comic. Some character actors could really get a lot more emotional resonance out of some of the scenes, which while ...more
Emilia P
Dec 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Wah wah wah I'm middle aged. Actually, I thought the essential dilemma (work sucks, messing stuff up, family distant, gotten a crush on a children's singer) was pretty compelling, if done before, it seemed like he was speaking from his actual life rather than from some universal stereotype of an angry middle-aged dude (ahem Clowes). I think that the second storyline of the pretty/grumpy singer lady and her own troubles with selling out and growing up was unconvincing and possibly even unnecessar ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Probably because of its nature as a graphic novel, I expected that this book would have a lot more humor and a lot less honesty. In fact, had it had that, I probably wouldn't have liked it nearly so much. With part cynicism, part humor, and a lot more honesty than I expected, this book really made me enjoy it.

The two main characters are both at delicate points in their lives... both wishing things improvements could come along and something could wipe away all the mess. They are both very realis
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
John, a 40-something magazine employee, is once divorced and twice married with two adult daughters and a new baby boy. Work stress, strained family relationships, too many diapers, and the first physical signs of aging thrust John into a mid-life crisis that threatens to turn an innocent email exchange with an attractive children's performer (Sherri Smalls) into an anything-but-innocent encounter. Ollman alternates between John's story and that of Sherri, who is trying to reconcile her rock sta ...more
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Fun, honest, self-effacing, and yet not too overwrought with male self-effacement to be cringe-worthy. I actually was asking myself at some points how he could accomplish so many believable voices for all the characters to be both distinctive yet interrelated in such a bio-comic, whereas most bio-comics are more self-centric ad unable to paint a clearer picture of the central character. One star less for the silliness of the ending. And one more star because of the somewhat dated battle-with-age ...more
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I honestly have very little to say about this book. Essentially, the plot revolves around a man going through a mid-life crisis during his second marriage. I had a hard time connecting with the text because the themes it was centered around had little/nothing to do with my own life. However, it was a well-told story and I am still intrigued by the graphic novel format in general. I think I am going to try out a few more!
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A great little find. Fun , entertaining read and just loved the mood and humor in it all. Keep in mind , Im the exact target audience for this particular book. I give bonus grading when it comes to original indie books like this one from Joe Ollman. I also give bonus kudos to writers who illustrate their own stories like Joe. I give this a strong 4+ out of 5. This is definitely for a specific audience ,the title kind of tells you who its for.
London Mabel
Funny, and I cared about the main character. His descriptions of his feelings for his children (both young and old), how he feels he failed them when he went through his divorce, how he feels he never had a "youth" cause he had children so young--it was all touching. But I was less interested in the storyline about the children's singer, and didn't think it added anything to the depth or the conclusion of the book.
Matt Piechocinski
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Haunting ... considering I'm only 4 years away from the age in which Ollman writes. Not bad ... I thought it'd be more funny, but it's a little cliched, like a bad romcom. Some parts really hit home though.
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
This graphic novel was as mediocre as the mid-life crises it depicts. Not bad, but not particularly entertaining either.

It also bothered me that some of the text ran together and was sometimes difficult to read (ex. "FILL" reading as "FIU")
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I expected not to like this since it is about a man thinking about cheating on his wife, which just seems like an incredibly boring story that continually gets written. However, this book is really funny and reminds me of the best of 1990s era alternative comics.
Michelle Morrell
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm surprised how much I enjoyed this story of an aging hipster starting life over again with a new wife and baby, and the children's show star he is obsessesing over. Just the right amount of snark to keep it self-effacing but not mean.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
It was like a graphic novelization of a Woody Allen movie. A realistic and funny look at middle-aged slump, family life and dangerous choices. But it's spelled "exhilAration", and if Sherry's hair is supposed to be red, why is it drawn in black, including on the in-colour back cover?
Check out my comic (drawn) response to this graphic novel as part of my 30 Graphic Novels in 30 Days project.
Jan 17, 2012 rated it liked it
i love Ollman's style, but the story was a little too "high fidelity" for me, i guess. i wish there had been a bit more substance to the ending. however, i'm intrigued enough by ollman's writing and subject matter to check out his other work at some point. he's on my list...
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Joe Ollmann lives in Hamilton, the Riviera of Southern Ontario. He is the winner of the Doug Wright Award for Best Book in 2007 and loser of the same award another time.
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