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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Comic Review: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic is a heartbreaking Tragicomic of a family, its secrets and troubles.

Total Rating: 7.6/10


Art style: 6/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Language: 9/10
World building: 8/10
Fun: 5/10
Predictability: 7/10
Believable: 9/10
Relevancy: 8/10

Genre: Comic, Tragicomedy 

For You if you like: Family drama,  
Time It Took Me To Read: approx. 2 hours

"He used his skilful artifice not to make things, but to make things appear to be what they were not."

A story driven by extreme conflicts. As the title suggests, the "Fun Home" was not so fun after all. 

It starts with a normal family life, until a shocking detail is thrown into the story, and not further elaborated. And the story continues as if nothing happened - until the author throws in another shocking detail that does not fit into the perfect family life the author tries to sell us. I felt very confused - clearly something the author intended. 

Originality: 8/10

No family is perfect - Alison Bechdel works through her relationship with her father through the art of a graphic novel. She allows us a glimpse into how it looks behind the staged play of her apparently perfect family. 

Art style: 6/10

The art style was simple, only with black lines and minimal blue colouring (even though there is a reference in the story later why Alison abandoned colours, and that blue is her favourite colour). All the faces looked almost the same to me. I am not sure why Alison Bechdel chose a graphic novel as her medium of communication, and did not write a novel. After I have read that the author is a cartoonist and drew and wrote the story, I must say it almost feels a bit more personal. She literally drew it the way she SAW it. 

Atmosphere: 8/10
There is a weird atmosphere throughout the story. The story is actually not driven mainly by dialogues, but by the description of the narrator. Alison Bechdel analyses even the most banal thing her father does, and draws comparison between literal stories and her life. This gives the whole story a dark twisting feeling. 

Characters: 8/10

As the story is from Alison's point of view, we get to know all characters and how Alison sees them. Except her, and her father, most characters are really flat. Her mother and her siblings are just... there. Again, this is seems like a deliberate choice, making it clear how central her father was to her life, and how everyone else was dim next to his existence. 

Language: 9/10

The language is surprisingly sophisticated for a graphic novel:

"I grew to resent the way my father treated his furniture like children and his children like furniture."

The story narrator, Alison Bechdel herself, loves drawing comparisons between her family, for example the Addams Family, or a Lilac flower. These can be quite bautiful: 

"I was spartan to my father's athenian.
Modern to his victorian.
butch to his nelly.
utilitarian to his aesthete. "

World building: 8/10
The world is from Alison's point of view and limited in an interesting way. We only see and learn what Alison wants us to learn - at the same time there are some key historical events mentioned in the background, making it clearer what time we are in, and making the world Alison lives in a 3D world. 

Fun: 5/10

You know what - this story is not fun. It made me feel uncomfortable. It was haunting me afterwards. But not all books need to be fun - sometimes a story like this SHOULD NOT be fun. And I think this is one of those, that is why I did not go down too much on the rating. I did not get angry reading it or hated it, it just made me feel incredibly bad. But this is what the story intended. 

Predictability: 7/10

The way Alison Bechdel tells her story is confusing and non-linear; again a result I believe the author fully intended. We jump back and forth in time, jump from one detail to the next and throw the reader into a chaotic reality. 

Believable: 9/10

This story is raw, true and brutal, and therefore very believable. I mean, it IS an autobiography so this story is as real as it gets. 

Relevancy: 8/10

Homosexuality is a big topic throughout the story. Not only is Alison's father a suppressed homosexual, but Alison herself already strives early in her life towards masculinity. At the same time, her father tries to life his feminine side through his only daughter. 

Total Verdict: 7.6/10

A much heavier comic than I have expected: It draws you in, and leaves you with an uncomfortable feeling inside. Full of impact and relevance. 

Buy it here:  Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

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