How to Talk to Girls at Parties

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This comic is an adaption of a short story by Neil Gaiman of the same name that was nominated for a Hugo Award. The art is done by the twin artists Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, who have worked on such comics as Casanova (Image) and Daytripper (Vertigo). Published at the beginning of this year, this comic probably is meant to coincide or lead up to the release of the spin-off movie that is coming next year. Hopefully the movie will capture the same otherworldliness and style that made this comic so interesting to me.

The art in this comic really helped the story stand out. Moon and Ba did a great job capturing the strangeness of the girls with their stylistic watercolors. The vibrant colors really draws your eye to the detailed backgrounds that, at certain points, added a lot to the character narratives to really bring out the fact that their stories are not something normal girls would tell. The way they do shadows in particular really builds up the mood of each story, adding a nice layer of seriousness to contrast the main character’s general lack of understanding. If I had to make one complaint about the art it would be that it can too stylized at times. Moon and Ba do a great job at creating character designs in a style that can easily convey movement, but their faces can leave a little bit to be desired. There were multiple times where I thought that a character’s eyes were just way too big to the point where she started to look like an insect. There were also moments were their eyes would kind of go off their faces in weird ways. But I don’t think this detracts from the overall art in any serious way.

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There’s been a lot of debate over the narrative of this story, and like he is want to do, Gaiman leaves much of it open to the imagination. The main story follows two teenage boys who go to a party one night. One of them is the confident, lady-killer type named Vic, and the other is the shy, doesn’t really know how to talk to girls type named Enn. The problem is that the party they happen to find is populated by aliens who look like normal girls. It becomes very obvious that the main idea that Gaiman is playing with is this fear that Enn has when he tries to talk to women which becomes evident when Vic says, “They’re just girls. They don’t come from a different planet.” The story then transforms into a character study of the three main girls that Enn happens to meet. Through their characters, Gaiman explores the ideas of mortality, imperfection, and how art can permanently effect a person. These are all very human concepts that are explored through the eyes of three alien girls who have been thrust into human bodies.

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I think one of the things that trips people up about this comic is the fact that Enn doesn’t realize that anything is wrong even as the girls talk explicitly about their alien stories. But there have been stories like this before, even falling under their own genre category, called Magical Realism. In these stories, the defining factor is that weird shit happens and people think it’s entirely normal. However, there’s also a different explanation, in that Enn is so absorbed in trying to talk to the girls, that he is hardly even listening to their stories in the first place. The other point that seemed to confuse people was the ending that shows Vic’s relationship with one of the girls. It’s here that Gaiman leaves it open to the imagination. But I think that this particular girl is another character study in the human condition. Gaiman refers to her as the universe. It is an integral part of the the human condition to look into the vastness of the Universe and feel smaller for it. For Vic this ends in him running away, not wanting to risk his sense of self.

This comic was short, but I think the story and the art combined in a way that made it powerful and brought out each other’s strengths. I highly recommend this comic if you’re a Gaiman fan, and I’m interested in seeing where the movie goes from this.

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