Just when I think I can’t love this comic any more, Gillen and McKelvie set out to prove me wrong. Rue Britannia was fun to pick apart, and 2.1 was just a cotton-candy bite of pure bliss. but this one made me feel.
Where Phonogram 2.1 was about the magic of dancing–and mostly about dancing by yourself–2.2 is about the magical ability of songs to transport you to a different place and time. It’s about memory, sure, but it’s more than that. Certain memories almost get trapped in a song, and when you play it, they come rushing back out. Sometimes good, sometimes bittersweet, sometimes wretched, but always twice as strong as they would be had you just thought of them without that song playing.
Marc, the lovely boy above with perfect hipster hair (stop getting crushes on comic characters, Sarah. Especially ones that would be bad for you), made an appearance in 2.1 as well, but here we get to see inside his mind.
The book starts off with one of those conversations everyone has–whether or not they’re about music–with that one inappropriately, deliciously earnest friend. If you’ve never had that conversation, chances are you are that person. Otherwise, you’ll know how Marc feels as Lloyd goes on about his brilliant idea, and you won’t be expecting the turn the story takes later. Which is rather the point, I think.
Once you see pretty Penny dashing off to the dance floor, you realize that 2.2 takes place on the same night as 2.1, but this time we see Marc’s story–we get to fill in the gaps. You’ll want to dig 2.1 out and read it over again and watch it all make so much more sense. And if you think about it too much like I do, you’ll realize how often we misinterpret things because we just don’t see the world the same way as the people we’re talking to.
The magic hits Marc with the first bars of a song, and he’s swept back into the past he can’t let go of, to the first night he met his manic pixie dream girl. Yeah, she is one for sure, but I love this book for digging into the myth and exploding it, using the Girl herself (she has no name, as her name isn’t important to Marc) to point out to Marc just how much of it was his dream.
She has him pegged from the start. “You were always bullshittingman.” And at each step through his memories, she calls him out on self-indulgence, on the way he tells the story to himself. She doesn’t need his protection or his sympathy–or even him–but she doesn’t shame him for being sad about it.
There’s often something so misogynistic about emo boy stories, but this one doesn’t make the girl the villain. It’s about understanding your own complicity in your heartbreak, accepting it, about making those memories beautiful things instead of wounds.
So we all feel right along with Marc, because who hasn’t had their heart broken before and wallowed in it? Done something we know was stupid just because we’d get to feel something for a while? The Girl knows how that goes, and she knows that it’s magic, too.
“It’s not a crime to feel. It’s a crime not to.”
I love the faded colors in the memory scenes, faded out like your favorite pair of jeans with the memories worn into them the same way they’re worn into songs. And no one draws crushworthy pretty scene kids like Jamie McKelvie.
You also get gorgeous B-sides with art by Emma Vieceli and Daniel Heard, shout-outs to Kate Bush and Diamanda Galas, respectively, two women who’d eat you alive if you tried to make manic pixie girls out of them.