As I’ve said before on the podcast, I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan, and have been excited to read this book for a while. I love Gaiman’s original How to Talk to Girls at Parties short story, and I was stoked when I found out it was getting both graphic novel and film adaptations. While I would’ve liked to read this one closer to its release date, I’m pleased to say that it was worth the wait.
Published by Dark Horse, the How to Talk to Girls at Parties graphic novel was adapted and illustrated by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá, and it remains faithful to the original short story. Set in England somewhere in the 70s, it tells the story of two friends who go to a mysterious party one evening. Enn is a timid teenager who’s nervous about talking with girls, while his friend Vic is a natural ladies man who wants Enn to come out of his shell.
At the party, the girls are foreign and majestically beautiful, so much so that Enn and Vic feel as though they might be dreaming. Yet after some time there, Enn realizes that the girls are not only not from England, but not from this world.
If there was anyone to adapt a story so surrealist and with elements of science fiction, fantasy and horror into a comic, it’s Moon and Bá. The sibling creators have put out other great independent comics like The Umbrella Academy with the same kind of surrealist approach. Each panel is imbued with a level of detail that isn’t easily accomplished. The pastels and pencils come together in a way that makes the images feel poetic.
It also coincides well with the text, which is mostly taken from Gaiman’s story. Narration from an older Enn includes lines such as: “We wore half-masks that made us look like this girl. A perfect Grecian nose. I thought of that play, looking at her face, in the kitchen, and I thought of Barry Smith’s drawings of women in the Conan comics.” Then, when the alien woman speaks, her words are drenched in poetry and rhythm. Consider this line which is sprinkled throughout four panels: “We knew..so we put it all into a poem…to tell the universe who we were…and why we were here…and what we said and did and thought and dreamed and yearned for…we wrapped our dreams in words… and patterned the words so that they would live…forever…unforgettable.”
At just over 60 pages, the book is sensational, crisp, faithful to the source material and layered with gorgeous imagery and prose. I have a hard time writing about great comics, simply because my words can’t do justice to their quality. Just go and pick up How to Talk to Girls at Parties and experience it for yourself. Now bring on the American Gods comic and TV show!