by Jeet Heer
Friday, March 4, 2011
Over at the National Post, I have a review of Joe Ollmann’s new graphic novel Mid-Life (click here to read).
A few ancillary thoughts:
The Mid-Life Theme. As can be guessed from the title, Ollmann’s book is about a mid-life crisis. Has anyone noticed how pervasive that theme has been in recent graphic novels? I’m thinking here of Clowes’ Wilson, Collier’s Chimo, Jaime Hernandez’s The Education of Hopey Glass (and the triptych of stories in Love and Rockets 3), Ware’s Acme 19 (and arguably “Jason Lint” or Acme 20, which covers the characters whole life year by year but where the central life-defining actions take place in mid-life). Perhaps related is Brown’s Paying For It, which I haven’t read yet, also hinges I’m told on a pivotal life-decision the cartoonist made in mid-life. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the mid-life theme is so pervasive. The generation of alternative cartoonists that now dominate comics were all born in the late 1950s or 1960s and are now facing mid-life themselves. Seth’s an interesting anomaly since it could be said that he cartooned like a middle-age man even when he was young. But Seth is relevant here because he once said that he hoped his audience would grow old with him. That’s what seems to be happening with alternative comics and their audience.