Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Perfect Example by John Porcellino

Perfect Example is a coming-of-age story, a sort of memoir told in comics, or perhaps an autobiographical graphic novel. It depicts Porcellino's summer after high school graduation. It was especially poignant for me, because I grew up in the same time and place as Porcellino -- not the exact suburb, but very nearby. The places the characters visit, the music they listen to, the types of houses they live in, even the basic attitudes of the teens and parents, all of these were very familiar to me.

The summer after high school is often a time of trying to figure out one's place in the world. Porcellino portrays his adolescent-on-the-brink-of-adulthood self trying to find a balance between getting to know himself as an individual and finding a way to feel less isolated. This book also manages perfectly capture avoidance as a way of dealing with the realization that you've attained a major milestone in life without a clue about what comes next for you. Sometimes the teenage John seems to be working hard at staying a kid, doing kid things with his friends, and other times, confronted by those same friends with the need to make decisions about college and adulthood, he sinks into depression. The words, "I don't know" appear over and over throughout the story, and John is often completely paralyzed with indecision, even about small things such as whether or not it's ok to try to hold the hand of a girl he likes.

You can see an example of Porcellino's simple line drawings below.

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