Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CELEBRATED SUMMER by Charles Forsman

For one so young, and so early in his comic making career, Charles Forsman is a highly confident and assured cartoonist.  He allows the images to tell the story, lingering on small points in the narrative, infusing his stories with a pace that adds to their emotional depth and tone.  He did this with The End of the Fucking World (TEOTFW), and he does it again with Celebrated Summer, from Fantagraphics Books.

A graphic "novella," Celebrated Summer is a reminiscence on that final summer of childhood between two close friends.  We follow them as they drive the highway, heading for the boardwalk and the ocean, in a last attempt to retain that innocence of their youth.

Their interactions feel genuine - unsentimental in a way that feels true to that state of being after you've finished high school and must consider what comes next.  The friends argue, share memories, and get lost, all rites of passage that anyone reading this book have experienced, and in this way, Forsman grounds his characters while allowing his audience to easily identify with them.  It's a fine line, and he walks it deftly.

With deceptively simple lines, Forsman also manages to create characters who, again, feel real.  I am certain there are some who look at his work and think of it as too simplistic (I've heard that criticism directly), but they are looking at it through a "wrong" lens, in my opinion.  He manages to evoke subtlety and pathos with a minimal amount of lines, and does it in a way that belies his youth.

If you've not checked out Forsman's work before, this would be a great place to start.  Then, if you appreciate this, as I think many fans of smart comics would, then you should check out TEOTFW, also from Fantagraphics.  You won't be disappointed.


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