Monday, August 5, 2013

We Can Fix It!: A Time Travel Memoir

Imagine you had the means to go back and visit yourself in time. Imagine the troubles you could save yourself and the pitfalls you could avoid. That is the premise of this book, a fantastical and wonderfully illustrated "time travel memoir." Jess Fink is going to make her life better by giving advice and practice to her younger selves. One of the first things she does is teach her teenage self to kiss, so that she will have a more enjoyable sex life, by making out with herself (that's not wrong, is it?). Sometimes she reaches out at pivotal moments in her young adulthood and tries to push herself toward other choices.

Other times she visits herself as a child, trying to advise herself not to do certain things.

What she finds is that her past selves are just as willful then as she is now.
Also, her future self is a bit obsessively determined:

And that drive frequently prevents her from having a very helpful bedside manner:

In the end Future Jess ends up getting as much counsel from her past selves as she dishes out.

Also, she learns that her memories sometimes are inaccurate and jaded.

In all, I thought that this book was fun and funny while also having some moving moments of pathos and empathy. There are a couple genuinely dark and painful episodes Jess works through (not pictured here), but the art combined with the breezy flow of the story keep things relatively light and humorous. Fink's artwork is deceptively simple looking, but it packs a very expressive series of punches. I also found her characters to be quite relatable and sympathetic.

This is Jess Fink's second book. Her works often combine elements of humor, sexuality, and beautiful art. Her first book, Chester 5000 (definitely NSFW), is very adult, an elegantly illustrated piece of smut about an occupied Victorian era inventor, his energetic wife, and the robot companion he makes for her. She speaks more about her work on We Can Fix It! in this interview.

Reviews I have read about this book have been pretty positive, though with some reservations. Paste Magazine's Hillary Brown wrote that "the book has plenty of nice moments, " but she also was disappointed by the sketchy aspect of the art, adding, "It just seems like, given more time, it could have been something more than it is." The reviewer at Yet Another Comics Blog called this book "solid" but added that he was put off a little because he did not feel the narrative was universal enough, commenting, "The difficulty I had is that it felt less like going on a journey with Jess Fink and more observing Jess Fink." Publishers Weekly concluded that this "quickly paced book practically demands to be read again upon completion in order to spot all the hidden details" and added that there were "plenty of laugh-out-loud moments."

We Can Fix It! is available from the fine folks at Top Shelf. They offer a preview and much more here

Panels from We Can Fix It!
Good advice from the future!

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