Book Review: Too Cool to be Forgotten

Growing up, I never read many comic books, nothing personal, it’s just something I didn’t seek out for one reason or another. The thing is, for a while now, comics and graphic novels were something that I’ve wanted to get into.  My exposure to them has been somewhat limited; I own a copy of Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography and I’ve read the Flight series of books, but that’s pretty much it.

Recently I watched an interview with Alex Robinson (a cartoonist) on an online TV show called iFanboy, a talk show about comics and graphic novels. As a result I decided to go out and purchase his latest book Too Cool to be Forgotten.

Too Cool to be Forgotten is part of a genre of graphic novels based in reality.  You won’t find superheroes in tights here; these books are about everyday life, real people doing real things.  After starting to read the book, I began jumping to all sorts of conclusions, such as how flat graphic novels are and the lack of character development. However the more I read the more I began to be sucked into the story.

The story revolves around a middle-aged man who in an attempt to quit smoking goes to a hypnotist. However, as he gets hypnotized he is transported back in time to when he was in high school and is forced to relive the experience, but this time with the mind of an adult. Many issues the book touches upon hit close to home as I’m sure they would with most readers. I found myself relating to my high school experience, realizing the absurdity of certain situations and the seriousness of others. Towards the end, the book strikes on a few emotional chords that really make you feel for the character. The story however is only half a graphic novel, one cannot write a review without discussing the art.

Robinson work is all black & white, from what I’ve seen.  There is a mix between full complex panels and simpler panels. I found the more complex panels being used to advance the story, where as the simpler panels portrayed various emotions and feeling. There are also some interesting full page collages and pages where panels bleed into and interact with each other, which add greatly to the general mood of the story. The book was a quick read (I read it in maybe 3 hours) and I feel like I didn’t pay attention to the art as much as I would have liked to. Hopefully on the re-read, which I feel graphic novels demand, I will take in more of the panel art.

Too Cool to be Forgotten was a great re-introduction to graphic novels, I will definitely be checking out more of Robinson’s work.  Get it here.

Update: July 30, 2008

**There maybe spoilers here**

In Response to Billy Sue’s question, “can you give an example of some of the crazy situations he finds himself in when sent back to high school?

Two specific scenarios come to mind. In the first the main character (the 40 year-old trapped in a teenager’s body) asks his teacher to go to the bathroom, when the teacher refuses to let him go, the main character breaks out into a monologue citing the absurdity of the situation, among other things. The book is peppered with little scenarios like that. On the other side there is a part where the main character attempts to invite someone who does not usually hang out with him into his clique. The situations goes south when in his attempt he does more harm than good, and certain issues of peer-pressure and precedent come up. This is what I think the charm of the book is, it makes you look back on your own experiences and consider them from a “grownup” perspective.

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6 Responses to “Book Review: Too Cool to be Forgotten”

  1. Bobby Says:

    I highly recommend Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, about a retired Batman coming back on to the scene to clean up the city once again. It’s simply incredible, and it’s the one thing that every Batman actor – from Michael Keaton to Christian Bale – have all referred to and studied to help them capture the essence of the character.

  2. Eugen Says:

    Hey thanks a lot, I’ll add that to my ever growing list of books to read. I hear Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore is also very good. It’s an origin story for the joker. Cheers

  3. Billy Sue Says:

    cool i like the concept of the book (and the cover art)… can you give an example of some of the crazy situations he finds himself in when sent back to high school?

  4. Bobby Says:

    Did you seriously hear that, or are you pulling my leg cos I wrote about it a week ago?

  5. Eugen Says:

    I did hear about it, and yesterday I read your post containing it, but didn’t feel like deleting that part of the comment. Another show I watch online (The Totally Rad show) reviewed it.

  6. Bobby Says:

    I don’t know why, but it sounds like a really cool show. Yeahs, I’ve been lucky enough to have read a few Batman books, having a couple of grown-up friends who are huge comic nerds. But sadly, The Killing Joke is not yet one of them.

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