Thursday, March 22, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #81: I Am Not Okay With This by Charles Forsman

Sydney is fifteen. She's skinnier than she wants to be, she's annoyed at best by school, and confused by the fact that she's attracted to both men and women. So far, she's like any other teenager -- unhappy in her body and life, and not seeing any way to get away from any of the things she hates.

And she thinks she has a psychic power that she can use to hurt other people.

(Well, OK -- "thinks" is me weasel-wording it. We see her do it. We know it's true.)

In a healthy world, Sydney would have support from friends and family, maybe even teachers and guidance counselors at school. But she doesn't really have friends; just a couple of people who she ends up having sex with, out of proximity as much as anything else. Her kid brother annoys her, her mother ten times more so, and her father is dead. We don't see her interact with any teachers. And her guidance counselor suggests that Sydney keep a journal -- which becomes this book -- but doesn't otherwise help her out.

So Sydney is alone with herself, with her dark anger and the things that anger can do. I would not be okay with that -- none of us would. But we don't have to live with it: Sydney does.

I Am Not Okay With This collects a series of self-published minicomics by Charles Forsman. It contains Sydney's full story. She has more reason for teen angst than most people, and fewer resources for dealing with it. She's damaged in ways that she can't ask for help about, and subject to a power or force that threatens to overpower her, especially when she's angry or aroused.

Forsman takes her story to the extremes inherent in his set-up: he doesn't flinch or hesitate. It is almost unbearably sad. Almost.

I haven't seen Forsman's work before: this is impressive. It's entirely within Sydney's head, entirely focused on how she sees the world. His art is cartoony in a nearly '30s style, with big noses and gangly limbs. And he can tell a story, following it exactly where it needs to go. I'll have to see what other stories he's told, or will tell.

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