Nerds Like Us
Too Cool to be Forgotten
Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010
Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010 11:03
Cliché as it is, I'm sure you're well aware of how obsessed people are with youth: "If only I was younger." Maybe it's because we forget the pain that was constant throughout high school, or maybe because we wish we did things, well, better. But is this misguided? To reminisce and reduce what we felt? Too Cool to be Forgotten by Alex Robinson digs into these questions.
Following the story of nicotine-addicted 40-something Robert Wicks, we find ourselves transported back in time by hypnosis in some attempt to defeat his little smoke-ridden demon. The idea itself seems a bit fantastic and implausible, but the end result makes us forget about the silly premise altogether.
Robert finds himself in the skin of his high school self—skinny, brace-faced, awkward, and horny as hell. In fact, Robert is entirely unprepared for how horny he is. It's this sort of clash between what adults forget and what kids feel that really pulls the story together. Many writers might fantasize about the innocence of youth and the joy of newfound lust, but oftentimes the hard side of it is forgotten.
Robert finds himself wooing girls he doesn't actually like simply because they drive him crazy (and freaks out when he realizes he's a 40-year-old guy in a kid's skin); he takes part in deeply cruel verbal abuse of the unpopular kids, he clashes with his mother.
However, it is all shown rather objectively, the elder part of him just as confused, as his younger self allows us to judge the real conflicts of youth and our perception of it.
The art itself and the arrangement of the pages is extraordinary. Robinson bends the rules, leaving some pages nearly blank to emphasize Robert's loneliness, some places cluttered, others simple, following dull (but valuable) conversations. Every character is entirely expressed in the construction of his or her face. But despite the fact that they follow traditional archetypes (the square-jawed jock, the pimpled nerd) Robinson brings enough life to them that you forget these people are operating in clichés.
But this isn't simply a trip back in time. Robert struggles with his relationship with his parents, unresolved problems, bruised connections, and familial alienation.
Too Cool to be Forgotten bends the rules and takes an old, tired subject and makes it young again.