I found these two short and sweet comic books (more like cartoon strips for one of them) while I was hunting down books from the library that would fit our current reading theme. If these are not in your radar yet, make sure you find them – whether you are a digital dinosaur or a digital native.
Written and Illustrated by: Mel Calman Edited by: Stephanie Calman Foreword by: Michael Palin
Published by: Souvenir Press (2015)
ISBN: 0285643096 (ISBN13: 9780285643093). Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
Mel Calman, apparently, was a famous cartoonist in the UK. He was known for his sharp and witty insights about love and relationships that cut to the core of any romantic BS people may hold. This book is a collection of these cartoons, especially selected by his daughter upon his death.
In Stephanie Calman’s Introduction, she described her father in this manner:
He knew exactly which sort of ridiculous things each sex is prone to saying, and one never felt, as a woman, offended or misunderstood. There are whole conversations, even entire relationships – albeit probably the shorter ones, portrayed in those seemingly effortless retorts.
Above all, he brilliantly zoned in on that paradox of love and commitment, namely that we fall in love with each other, move in together, marry even – and find that that very proximity brings its own problems.
This collection of comics, I believe, would resonate more with older couples. Not once was the internet referenced (thus the digital dinosaur bit). The cartoons manage to capture the vagaries of a relationship grown so very long that it has become routine, staid, and almost meaningless. This is not to say, of course, that all long-time relationships follow that path.
Calman, however, found the comedy in the tragic inevitabilities of failed relationships, and highlighted that more. No point in sharing happy couples, I suppose.
I admit to laughing out loud while reading this little book – it is hilarious seeing how Calman was indeed able to portray the typical dialogues among long-time couples, and the usual roots of misunderstandings in relationships.
Written and Illustrated by Yumi Sakugawa
Published by Adams Media (2013)
ISBN: 1440573026 (ISBN13: 9781440573026). Book was borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
Now if the former book is old-school, this one is for them millennials or digital natives.
For one, there are no actual human faces in this comic book – think of the usual avatars that people use to represent themselves in the virtual world, perhaps it’s meant to resemble that. It also depicts the “it’s complicated” type of relationships that most young people seem to have.
I love the image above – swapping favourite books is a must for someone with whom you would like to be in friend-love with, most definitely. Then there is this:
The entire relationship is sweet and casual, flirtatious but non-committal, close but never really intimate – because, hey, that would be awkward:
Honestly, this is something the auntie-me could not fathom. Life is too short and should be lived simply enough. But I suppose, for young people, wearing their hearts out on their sleeve can be almost life-threatening.
I like how this graphic novel by Yumi Sakugawa, though, eventually graduated towards greater honesty, and increasing vulnerability, contributing to its quiet understated truth of … pretty much an unrequited love. But then again, who knows, if one does not really risk one’s emotions out there to ever find out?
Perfect book to give to your teenagers. Then, discuss. 🙂
#LitWorld2018GB Update: UK and US (Yumi Sakugawa is based in California)