Too Cool To Be Forgotten by Alex Robinson

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Too Cool To Be Forgotten
By Alex Robinson
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I have been taken to task by my unabashed appreciation of Alex Robinson’s work by people with far more highfalutin taste in comics than I have. I found both Box Office Poison and Tricked to be highly readable and ambitious in both storytelling scope and page layout. In spite of the fact that his art hasn’t really improved over the years (beyond making more capable, confident brushstrokes) for an alternative cartoonist, Robinson makes bold choices with page layouts that really enhance his stories. He’s also quite skilled at augmenting character development with very well rendered, evocative facial expressions that can send chills down the reader’s spine. And his narratives are generally pretty tight, easy to read and, although most often reek of rank sentimentality at some point, are also totally heart-warming to boot.

That that’s not the case with Too Cool To Be Forgotten. While his art and page layout have never looked better and remains very interesting, the story here, feels rather pedestrian. Unlike previous works, the book focuses on a lone protagonist, rather thant multiple intersecting storylines with several complex well realized characters. Too Cool To Be Forgotten concerns the tale of middle-aged everyman Robert Wicks who is dragged to a new age hypnotherapist by his supportive wife in the hopes that said hypnosis will provide a cure for his longtime smoking habit. During the hypnosis session, however, he is inadvertently transported back in time to his high school years. After the initial shock wears off, he assumes he is back in the past to never start smoking in the first place. While there, however, he discovers that he has much bigger issues to resolve.

It’s a trite premise that’s been done to death in several different mediums–but in the hands of a capable, experienced storyteller, even the most hackneyed of premises can be done well. In this instance, however, Robinson commits the ultimate storytelling sin and continues to have his narrator tell, tell, and tell the reader key plot points. This is all the more disappointing because he’s done such a commendable job with past works of showing with a well placed look or an imaginative layout of a simple scene that really sets and suggests a mood.

One might expect that it would be easier to execute a 125 page graphic novel with one central character as opposed to a 500+ page sweeping epic-sized book like Box Office Poison with multiple characters enmeshed in complicated intersecting plotlines, but that just not the case with Robinson’s work-–at least not here. The artist almost certainly has the capacity to produce a small book with a big heart, but sadly, this isn’t it.

–Shannon O’Leary

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