Page 45 Review by Stephen
Brave, bold, Brown (Jeffrey); or brief, basic, banal.
That's your basic reception spectrum right there and, as in all matters, I am 100% to the left.
This is, I think, going to polarise people. Lazy people who think it's clever to start each word with a 'b'.
The good news for the likes of Porcellino and Penfold is that it'll take the heat off them when the less enlightened superhero readers want to cite autobiographical comicbook creators who, according to their ill-informed prejudices, "can't even draw". Fuck you, by the way!
From the creator of REUNION (a Page 45 Comicbook Of The Month), PETTY THEFT and the co-creator of FANNY & ROMEO, this new edition is accompanied by 25 new pages of Pascal Girard in the present which explain so much about Girard's anxiety in REUNION that I'm tempted to tweak my review. I won't, but I'm tempted.
This crippling anxiety - with attendant superstitious rituals recalling (as in "calling back") his little brother - he directly attributes in no small part to his complete inability to process his sibling's death when Pascal was barely more than seven years old himself.
The first and last three pages of the original confessional show them joyfully, exuberantly play-acting together as Ghostbusters; by the fourth page Pascal is sitting outside on the pavement, on his own.
How do you react to such an abrupt, gaping and irreversible hole both in your home and in your heart - at the very centre of your world?
You react inconsistently. And, as E.M. Forster suggested in 'Angels Fear To Tread', we must not be afraid to be inconsistent.
For a start, a child's desires are innocently self-centred, so games and Christmas presents bring as much joy as ever, and Pascal is put out by his parents' grief during these early anniversaries which spoils all his fun. It's only as he grows older that he begins to understand what happened and by that point self-awareness comes with the additional price-tag of guilt.
I'd wager it will speak volumes to those who've been bereaved at any age: there's a gnawing gut-level guilt that perhaps you weren't devastated enough at the time and therefore didn't care, and a suspicion (or even determination) that you shouldn't be enjoying yourself now.
Girard makes no such clumsy evaluations on the printed page, electing instead to offer up the simplest of fragments of what he recalls: moments when he's struck by his brother's death or even benefits from it through sympathy. That's why I call this a "confessional". Judge him if you want, but it's just human nature.
Brave and bold for me, then, and very Jeffrey Brown.
Oh, and you know the old adage that it's only when you lose something that you appreciate what you've got? Sometimes you don't. For Pascal Girard has another younger brother who survived...