Friday, November 19, 2021

Reader's Diary #2255- Joe Ollmann: Fictional Father

The cover of Joe Ollman's graphic novel Fictional Father is a great indicator of what readers can expect. The thick ink dripping from a finger, having smeared a fake smile on a frowning character is perfect. The art itself is somewhat messy (a stylistic choice though- it's certainly above merely capable!) as are the lives of those involved, especially the central character who's flawed but still (at least to me) endearing. It's also funny but with a depressing underbelly.

It revolves around Caleb, an artist who happens also to be the son of world renown comic strip artist, beloved ironically for his schmaltzy depiction a father who loves his son unabashedly. Only Caleb was, by and large, neglected by his father as he grew up and makes no effort to conceal this lie, offers no apologies for his father's actions. But he still wrestles, as many do, with feelings of guilt over these issues. How can I whine, he wonders, when so many others have it so much worse? Which only spirals him further into self-loathing causing him to make mistakes, questionable life choices, and perhaps worst of all, even inherit some of his father's negative traits.

I quite enjoyed the book, it's humor and provocative themes (especially on the idea of identity- who's version is true?). For avid comics readers too, there are a lot of real name drops which felt like fun Easter eggs.

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