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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comics – Day 61

Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we take a look at Alex Robinson’s Too Cool to be Forgotten…

Enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

What I can perhaps best say about Robinson’s original graphic novel, Too Cool to be Forgotten, is that it achieves exactly what it set out to do, which is to have a fairly sensitive forty-year old man go back in time to when he was 15 (to make the dates work, Robinson sets the book in 2010) and shows us how a forty-year-old man who is perfectly happy with his current life deal with life as a teenager.

Since this is Alex Robinson we’re talking about, it is extremely character-based writing with loads and loads of spot-on social interactions. Robinson clearly puts tons of thought into how people interact with each other, and it shines through in his work.

What is also notable about his work is that he manages to create so many distinct, interesting personalities.

The art is standard Robinson stuff – you can always tell if a character is a Robinson creation, because he loves to draw people as they actually are – very little romanticizing of people’s appearances occur in Robinson’s artwork. Still, he manages to make it so that we see very ordinary looking people appear how he wants them to appear – we can see them how the other characters see them. It’s like you are intruding upon someone’s brain – it’s really nifty.

The book ends with a staggering work of emotional catharsis – really powerful stuff. In fact, I would hazard that it is the MOST powerful writing Robinson has ever done, mostly because his other work, while awesome, tends to be a bit more on the restrained side – the slow burn, as it were. Not so here, where Robinson goes all out and wrenches as much of your heart as he can. Very powerful work.

On the whole, though, if I were to come up with any sort of downside to the book is that perhaps it is a bit TOO much of an intellectual look at what would happen if a person ended up in the past. The protagonist, Andy Wicks, seems to be a bit TOO detached at times.

But that’s a minor complaint, and for the most part, I do love how Wicks is analytical and introspective about the situation, I guess I just liked the emotion at the end so much that I would have liked to have seen more of it in other parts of the book. I get that Andy is trying NOT to explode, but I don’t think it has to be so neat as “he is either REALLY emotional or not emotional at all.”

Again, though, not a big deal.

This is a really well-written book, with fine artwork.

It also has one really stunning moment, where Andy is being hypnotized (to help quit smoking) and we see Andy attempt to clear his mind, and in the process, begin to time travel.

Robinson’s method of achieving this effect is by having Andy’s thoughts basically create himself…

Isn’t that so stunning?

17 Comments

I really like Alex Robinson and I’m a big fan of Box Office Poison…I think I like BOP far more than just about anyone else I know who has read it…but Too Cool To Be Forgotten just left me cold. I think maybe the concept was so great that my expectations were too high? It seemed there were so many places for this story to go and routes for it to take and it just seemed to take the most obvious one. I was really disappointed. That said, I told myself I’d read it again after a year or two to see if I’d change my mind…maybe now is that time.

I haven’t read Too Cool to Be Forgotten so I don’t know exactly how cerebral it is, but I *did* just read A Distant Neighborhood, which presents a similar story concept. A hard-drinking, working father gets sucked back in time into his fifteen (or so) year old body mere months before his father was going to leave his familiy (ultimately leading to his mother’s early death of heartache). So he has to figure out what to do and why things happened the way they did. It was a pretty awesome story.

I’m in the same boat as Kelly(Except I like BOP way, way more than she does, even though I know nothing about her) on TCTBF, I definitely should give it another read.

I thought TCTBF was a little disappointing as well. Come to think of it, I’ve really enjoyed Robinson’s work, but it’s all seemed a little uneven to me. Box Office Poison could seem like a writing exercise at times, and Tricked’s hoary assassination plot was ho hum. I think they’re great books, but they’ve got flaws.

I found the part where he was commenting on the teenage girls pretty creepy.

Also, you point out that this is “one really stunning moment,” and I certainly agree. However, I saw this as part of a preview and expected the book to be filled with these sort of experiments, but it’s not. Likewise, all the pre-release material emphasized how the book was going to be miles away from the conventions of Back to the Future and Freaky Friday, etc., but I didn’t think it was. I went into the book expecting something quite different and was disappointed. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but I was set up for a home run and got a base hit.

I’d never read anything by Robinson before, and picked up this based solely on the premise. I quite enjoyed it.

I wonder if the writers of Hot Tub Time Machine gave it a read…

Definitely a fan of Too Cool To Be Forgotten. Great book.

I drove to Heroescon the year this came out because I knew Robinson would be selling advanced copies. He is a super nice guy to speak with in person. This work and I Kill Giants hit the same emotional buttons for me and I like them both equally.

I agree with Kelly on pretty much everything she said, which is kind of sad, because I came here to make those points and she already made them. Still, I’ll throw a few things out there.

Granted it was a lot longer, but Box Office Poison just had a much better grasp on plot and structure. It explored its world better and was generally more fun and enjoyable. The characters were relatable, but still managed to keep you guessing a lot of the time, as did the story.

2 Cool didn’t really do any of that. It took most of the most obvious and least interesting paths it could have, not to mention glossing heavily over a great concept. Plus, for a story where the main character’s goal is to quit smoking and his reasons for doing so in the first place relate to his tragic past, why in God’s name does the book seem to come out in favor of underage drinking? The book had its moments of decent honesty, but all in all, it was pretty flat.

I really like Robinson’s work, and based on the time I met him at a con, he’s a really nice guy. But 2 Cool just didn’t work for me. I wish he’d try writing something ambitious again.

Given the overlap between comics fans and RPGers, I’m amazed nobody has mentioned Robinson’s Lower Regions yet.

That’s a cool comic book in its own right, Brian!

Doug M.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm

It seemed there were so many places for this story to go and routes for it to take and it just seemed to take the most obvious one.

Masturbation jokes?

I was actually kind of annoyed (not really) by the turn into drama it took when he discovered the real reason for his smoking… I wish it was the size of BOP, but just making with the funny.

That said, I was impressed with the scene where he gets disgusted at himself for trying to get with the girl he’d always wanted to ask out – I’m not sure Ive seen that in a ‘gone back in to teen years’ type story before.

Likewise, all the pre-release material emphasized how the book was going to be miles away from the conventions of Back to the Future and Freaky Friday, etc., but I didn’t think it was.

I don’t remember Back To The Future or Freaky Friday having major tone shifts, and dealing with acceptance of death…

A hard-drinking, working father gets sucked back in time into his fifteen (or so) year old body mere months before his father was going to leave his familiy (ultimately leading to his mother’s early death of heartache). So he has to figure out what to do and why things happened the way they did. It was a pretty awesome story.

But does it make with the laughs?

Granted it was a lot longer, but Box Office Poison just had a much better grasp on plot and structure.

I probably prefer BOP, but it’s plot and structure wanders greatly – at the end it’s about something very different to it was at the start.
I’d say this due to the nature of it being a serial from a cartoonist starting out, so I’ve no issues with it, but compared to Too Cool and Tricked, it’s the most plotless and structureless.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

March 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

why in God’s name does the book seem to come out in favor of underage drinking?

It doesn’t.

People under-age drink alcohol at parties, and it showed that.

In fact, there’s a character who talks about how useless alcohol, and how he thinks getting drunk is sad, and the main character ends up agreeing with him.

@FunkyGreenJerusalem

But does it make with the laughs?

Not so much. There is however a scene where he meets an old friend who died a year and a half later in a motorcycle accident. They exchange pleasantries and the kid takes off—on his motorcycle. So yeah, I guess it does make with the laughs.

I JUST re-read this book, along with BOP and Tricked, and I think that while I liked Tricked the best, TCTBF is easily the most emotionally resonant for me. It’s pretty much “Peggy Sue Got Married,” but done with more introspection.

Let’s see if nested blockquotes work…

Granted it was a lot longer, but Box Office Poison just had a much better grasp on plot and structure.

I probably prefer BOP, but it’s plot and structure wanders greatly – at the end it’s about something very different to it was at the start.
I’d say this due to the nature of it being a serial from a cartoonist starting out, so I’ve no issues with it, but compared to Too Cool and Tricked, it’s the most plotless and structureless.

Exactly. Box Office Poison is a bit of a strange example to hold up as having a good grasp on plot and structure (much as I love it)

Yay the nested blockquotes worked!

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