Speech Bubbles: Too Cool to be Forgotten
Alex Robinson is an excellent comic book writer. His use of large casts with multiple storylines leading up to one giant finish is amazing enough for most readers to accept that his particular art style does in fact compliment the work even though it’s aesthetic appeal is not the highest to the average reader. Both of Robinson’s previous major entries, Box Office Poison and Tricked were excellent in their own ways and each lasted a good deal of time, but contained so much likable substance that I only wished the story would be longer. Because each book is a big endeavor, the frequency of release is pretty slow. Years passed, but I’ve finally checked out Too Cool to be Forgotten (released in July of 2008) after waiting quite a while for it to be released (back when it was called 2 Cool to be 4gotten). And despite it’s short length, this book is still a solid entry in Robinson’s library.
Andy is a 40-year-old man, happily married with two daughters, but stuck in the rut of being addicted to cigarettes. His wife pleads for him to try out a new psychological hypnotism process to try and rid himself of his smoking habit. However, the process lands Andy into a few days as his 15-year-old self dealing with some of the most sensitive and scary moments of his life: high school. The concept is pretty simple: if you were sent back in time, what would you do differently? Andy simply realizes that his first cigarette was during a party that’s about to happen in a few days and that if he dodges it, he can probably erase all history of his addiction. But, of course, Robinson’s book would never be that simple.
The characters are all interesting and Andy stands out as completely believable and even a bit charming. This is a 40-year-old man, one who has lived a good life with plenty of experience, getting his chance to be a braver 15-year-old that is able to ask a girl out, responsibly negotiate with his mother, help out his friends, and rebel with authority. Each conversation is carefully planned and Robinson paints pretty detailed characterizations in a few choice words and artistic depictions. Often I found myself hearing specific characters’ voices rather than just the plain words. Quite a feat in itself.
Of most note is the book’s ending: a huge cathartic moment that fleshes out Andy’s baggage and really comes off as believable and tragic. I don’t wish to spoil the ending, but if I did come close to that kind of moment, I really do believe that I would behave similar to Andy. Robinson really nails emotional connections in these closing moments and I must really applaud him for the effort. Too Cool to be Forgotten doesn’t contain the epic story we come to expect from Robinson (in fact, there are no subplots), but it does hone in on the tragedy and happiness that Robinson is known for. For that alone, I would easily place it just as highly as Box Office Poison and above Tricked. If you’re looking for an alternative comic book that really works, I’d tell you that Too Cool to be Forgotten does make that list for me.