The library is a great place for readers to find comics, and it’s a great place for comics readers to check out things that they want to try without spending their hard-earned cash. I’m looking at comics that I find in the New York Public Library system.
Too Cool to be Forgotten, by Alex Robinson. Top Shelf.
Oftentimes, when I take a book out of the library, it’s simply because I have a small apartment and there’s limited shelf space for “keeper” books. Giving back the books that I really want to read, but probably won’t reread is the best option. Sometimes, however, I borrow because I’m curious, yet concerned, about the quality of a book and don’t want to fork over the money for it. After buying and loving Box Office Poison and Tricked, Alex Robinson was pretty well established on my must-buy list of creators, but something about his latest book, Too Cool to be Forgotten concerned.
Here’s the premise: Smoker Andy Wicks goes to a hypnotherapist to quit smoking. He ends up being transported back into the mind of his own high school self, to prevent himself from lighting up that first ciggie, or so he assumes. Thing about this premise is, it’s not that interesting. I think we’ve all seen a film or TV show in which an adult is somehow, magically or improbably, back in high school. It’s just not that interesting, and so I approached this book with some caution.
I guess it was the right move, because Too Cool to be Forgotten is easily Robinson’s weakest book to date. It’s not awful, and honestly, the ending is incredible, total tear-jerking heartbreak. I mean, honestly, my eyes were misting up, big time, during those last fifteen pages. But it’s just not terribly interesting for the most part before the big revelation.
Robinson does do a fine job teasing readers, letting you know that there’s something more to Andy’s journey than simply refusing a cigarette, but the entire book just takes too long. He sees his younger sister, an innocent child and wonders if he can set her on a better path. He commiserates with his mother about wanting the best for your children. He asks out the girl he never had the guts to ask out. But none of it rings true. Robinson’s dialogue and characterization have always been hallmarks, but this one feels so obvious, like it’s going through the motions. Robinson had a great hook for the finale, but he’s treading water until he gets there, and one great finale simply can’t overcome the underwhelming set-up.
Though Too Cool to be Forgotten misses, patrons of my library are fortunately able to find copies of Robinson’s more accomplished books Tricked and BOP! More Box Office Poison. Both are fine places for new and established comics readers to learn about the possibilities of the medium.