Praise for John Porcellino:
"John Porcellino's comics distill, in just a few lines and words, the feeling of simply being alive." Chris Ware, author/cartoonist of Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Boy on Earth
"John Porcellino creates some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, sympathetic and, yes, beautiful comix in America." Time.com
"Beyond his appealingly simple cartooning style, what really makes Porcellino's work endure is the sensibility that underlies all of his comics. Porcellino's take on himself and the world around him is passionate, gentle, and accepting, while not without moments of doubt, despair, and self-hatred." The Comics Journal
Porcellino, the longtime and, one imagines, long-suffering publisher of the zine King-Cat Comics and Stories, has come out with an autobiography covering his final days of high school and the following summer in Hoffman Estates, a Chicago suburb. Porcellino has a deliberately simple style of drawing. His childish images are emotional almost without effort. It's 1986, and Porcellino is a severely depressed teen who doesn't know what to do with his life. He hangs out with friends, chases two girls, goes out to the lake and finally falls into suicidal thoughts: the world feels bland and dead. The story suffers when Porcellino abandons the sweet, meandering plot to discuss his state of mind. These interior episodes feel tacked on: "I was a little boy. Now I'm grown. People-places... things come and go. But they're no more real than shadows on a wall." With the work of Dan Clowes, Harvey Pekar and French artist David B., the graphic novel is proving to be an excellent venue for describing the 20th-century everyman. Porcellino's work is a minor, flawed but still worthy example of this rising genre. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In graphic novel format, Porcellino presents a slice of the real-life angst of a young man struggling with depression and changing relationships with friends, family, and females. Some days find John cowering in his bed, too fearful to leave the house and face the disappointments of day-to-day life. At other times, John finds consolation and comfort in the small blessings that an ordinary day can bringthe perfect skateboard ride, a new friend, the smell of newly cut grass. Presented in monochromatic type, seven chapters with illustrations show John's transition from unhappy to almost carefree. What accounts for the change? Much of it comes from John's realization that only he can create his own happiness. This book is eloquent in its simplicity. There is nothing to distract from its messages to readers: We create our own happiness or misery, and we must face our fears if we are to conquer them. The language and situations are sometimes brutal. The contrast between the stark brutality and the quiet innocence underscores the theme of this slice-of-life autobiography. The fact that the story is spare will allow readers the opportunity to place themselves more readily within its framework, establishing an empathetic bond with the main character. This book also might serve as an introduction for the uninitiated to the world of graphic novels. Students should relate to the uncertainty John feels about life after high school. Illus. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Highwater Books, 120p, $11.95 Trade pb. Ages 16 to 18. Reviewer: Teri S.Lesesne SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
This quiet and ferocious novel qua memoir in comics format focuses on the period between graduating from high school and entering college. The spare, simple drawings illuminate and enlighten the text, which aptly depicts youthful depression and aimlessness. Writer/artist Porcellino articulates the difficulties of feeling good about belonging to a peer group while not feeling good about oneself. Of all the graphic novels in the last few years, Perfect Example may be the most individual. It is not a story for everyone and may be better placed where books about teenage issues circulate than in any general collections, but it will find an audience. For larger public libraries, undergraduate collections, and universities where adolescent studies flourish. Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Growing up ain't easy-at times it can get downright depressing. One has to come to this graphic novel with a certain amount of approving open-mindedness-the drawing is appealingly innocent and after all, he does have the good sense to name the thing after one of the better songs by Minnesota band and '80s alt-music touchstone Husker Du. It's easy then to overlook some of the less endearing points, but this feeling of generosity doesn't last terribly long. Porcellino's story is based on his own mid-'80s adolescence in the Chicago suburb Hoffman Estates, and it's not one that he's overly concerned with making plot-friendly. His John is a moody teenager who spends most of his days listening to the underground bands of the time and trying to determine just what is making him so depressed. There are stabs at relationships, which tend to travel a pretty rocky road, and occasional attempts to escape the placid tedium of his surroundings. One especially memorable moment takes place during a nighttime jaunt to Lake Michigan, which results in John experiencing an explosively cathartic and borderline spiritual epiphany. For the most part, though, the comic bumbles along through minor mishaps and mini-events, befitting the cheerfully slapdash and childlike drawing-which, appropriately enough, looks like the kind of thing you'd see in a 50-cent Xeroxed comic found in the back of record stores. Where Porcellino's efforts fail is not in his attempt to replicate the small events of a mostly uneventful time or the triggers that would send him into dark depression, but in his inability to render his adolescence as anything but average. This problem is exacerbated in an afterword/biography that makes theauthor's viewpoint seem less introspective than self-indulgent. Small lives portrayed with a certain elegance, but nevertheless hampered by small vision.