Though this is probably one of these collaborations where you see Neil Gaiman, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba working together and you scream, “Take my money,” that doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed slam dunk. Let’s find out: is it good?
Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties (Dark Horse Comics)
So what’s it about? The official Dark Horse Comics synopsis reads:
Two teenage boys are in for a tremendous shock when they crash a party where the girls are far more than they appear!
Why does this book matter?
Three of the most talented comic and graphic novel creators coming together to illustrate a visceral and deeply meaningful story? Yes please. And if you’re at all interested in short stories this is kind of a must-have considering short stories aren’t adapted into comics every day.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I kind of love these captions.
Two teenage boys (just under 16) are headed to a party where girls and alcohol await them. Unfortunately they aren’t aware of the exact address and so they enter a party foreign to everyone else. The joke’s on them though, as they are the least foreign thing there. Gaiman’s short story turned graphic novel contains all of the anxiety, nervousness and awkward conversations we’ve all faced when approaching someone looking for love (or at least a kiss). The story mixes the reality and naïveté of the situation with a fantastic and science fiction twist that’s at once clever and ingenious.
The beauty of this story lies in Gaiman’s ability to capture the magical in a very ordinary setting and story. The pace is strong as we witness the protagonist delve deeper into a rabbit hole yet are never truly aware of what is going on due to his nerves and horniness. The reader is fully aware though, and because of the sheer absurdity of what each girl says to him we worry for him and ponder where the story is going. Once all is revealed the story seems to be a metaphor for our ignorance when young and impressionable, but also just how small a slice of life we see at that age too.
The art suits this story as it’s capable of feeling abstract and realistic at the same time. Similar to how these characters are feeling and reacting, the art manages to feel all knowing, but also unsure of what exactly is going on. As the story progresses, and each girl reveals themselves, the art seems to open up, getting more expressive and wild. At the same time, it captures the duplicity of meeting a girl for the first time. They may be positively radiant as the art suggests, but if you’re around them long enough you realize it’s a facade for something else.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Like the best whimsical short stories, this story gives you just enough to be captured by its whimsy, though really only captures a short period and just enough of it for the characters to forever remember it, but doesn’t say or do enough to feel substantial. That really isn’t its purpose, but you’re left wanting more.
Love may not be a strong enough word.
Is It Good?
This graphic novel can be enjoyed by all ages and its magic lies in it being experienced differently and successfully for each.