Too Cool to be Forgotten: wish fulfillment graphic novel becomes something lovelier by far

I read an early review copy of Alex Robinson's touching and funny graphic novel Too Cool to Be Forgotten back in March, an emerged from it feeling uplifted, happy, and a little melancholy. Robert Wicks goes to a holistic clinic with his wife to get hypnotherapy for smoking cessation and finds himself spiralling into the mind of his 15-year-old self, on the verge of smoking his first cigarette. With impeccable dream-logic, Wicks concludes that all he needs to do is resist that fateful butt and he'll be catapulted back to his present-day self on the therapist's couch. In the meantime, he can relive all the awkward and joyous moments of adolescence, revisiting his pals and making amends for his foolishness, confronting the bullies, and winning the affections of the girl he never had the guts to talk to.

This is great wish-fulfillment fodder, and the low-calorie comic-book approach eases the reader directly into the fantasy without much cognitive load, allowing you to revel in the what-if game of being able to tell your adolescent self everything you know today. But beneath that light dreamy sense is a deepening feeling of dread, a sense that everything is not what it seems.

By the story's end, wish fulfillment has become something much more challenging and, frankly, beautiful. There's a lot going on in this little book. Link


  1. “the low-calorie comic-book approach eases the reader directly into the fantasy without much cognitive load”

    I know that reviewers of graphic novels like to say things like this to suggest that they can be easier reads than a dense text-only item, but I think it can also help the anti-graphic novel set in their war to keep graphic novels out of school libraries and off of young adult reading lists.

    Reading a graphic novel may be “easier” to read than a text-only novel due to having fewer and often, shorter words. But it also takes another set of visual skills to view and interpret the imagery. If you’re taking only one hour to skim through your graphic novels, you’re skipping as much of the depth as if you skimmed a “heavy” text-only novel. Helping people become aware of this is the only way that graphic novels will become accepted forms of literature for study in high schools and colleges alongside older forms.

    — that said, this looks like an interesting book that I’ll have to read.

  2. I hate to harp, but I agree with MIM. It’s nitpicking, it’s reactionary, but there you are–comics are not “low-calorie.” They are not lesser than novels or film or sculpture and so on. They ARE art. They do not need to be defended and they don’t need to beg for a seat at the big kids’ capital A Art table and the pile doesn’t need to be scoured to find a glut of amazing work both deft and entertaining. Comics have done amazing things that even films, which everyone enjoys without shame, cannot do.

    I suggest McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern issue 13 edited by Chris Ware for anyone who doesn’t believe that.

  3. I think he means “low calorie” as in it’s self-contained and not needing to to read the past 100 issues to find out why Sinestro made a pass at batman

Comments are closed.