Our current culture is obsessed with the concept of nostalgia. There are billion dollar movie remakes of '80s children cartoons, HD releases of classic video games and reissues of everything from comic books to cereal brands. None of this is surprising though; nostalgia is a powerful emotion, especially when coupled with personal memories. Of course, when focusing on the past, one tends to come across the flip side of nostalgia; regret.
This is primarily the concept Jess Fink grapples with in her new graphic novel We Can Fix It!: A Time Travel Memoir. Half actual memoir and half wish-fulfilling science fiction romp, We Can Fix It! adds a spin to the played-out norm of indie creators telling the same stories about their zits in high school and their awkward attempts to make out with their friends. Not that We Can Fix It! is short on awkward make-outs (far from it actually)but the unique opportunity to view these adventures through the lens of Fink's current perspective — efficiently translated through her time-traveling counterpart — provides readers with a relatable and honest guide through her memories.
This is where We Can Fix It! really shines. The inherent problem with a memoir has to do with the fact that memory is fallible. Though the reader probably doesn't dwell on this in the moment, one must eventually come to the assumption that the writer is filling in blank spots in their memory with details that either don't match up with history perfectly or didn't occur at all. Fink both solves and challenges this idea at the same time by visiting events that don't need to be elaborated on and describing the emotions that she remembers, which most times don't line up with what her past selves claim to be feeling. I found myself coming to terms with the difference between memories and what actually took place at the same time as Fink was discovering the same thing.
Fink also lets her art convey relatability. Unlike her previous published work, Chester 5000, the characters in her memories are less embellished and more expressive; focusing less on the physicality of the past. In some spots in particular, I almost expected Fink to revert to her trademark eroticism, but she glosses over intensely amorous moments to continue the study of what she's done, and how it affected her later in life. It's this lighthearted style that helps Fink cover the upsetting moments in life without getting bogged down in depression.
We Can Fix It! succeeds where, I believe, most graphic novel memoirs fail. It allows readers into a glimpse of the writer's past and the lessons learned from reflection, without having to sacrifice the fun memories that should come along with said lessons.
We Can Fix It! will be out from Top Shelf in May 2013.
Sean Gonzalez is ALL ABOUT some things. Including: comic books, garage rock, video games and Star Trek. He's only recently discovered that he has opinions on things. You can find him in patches of tall grass or at seangonzalez.com. Feel free to follow his inane utterances @Cyclopsean.