Teenage angst is one of those topics that comes up a lot in films and comic books; usually to mixed or negative success. It feels rather quaint nowadays to acquaint angst with just teenage years when there is now so much more attention on so-called ‘quarter life crises’ (not that it’s a new concept or anything, just more widespread).
Still, this is where we were in the early 1990s and it is because of this clever and thoughtful depiction of angst that Ghost World found itself on the the 1001 Comics lists. That is of course underselling it, but having had to sit through the angst-fest of Fast Times At Ridgemont High (that was meant to be a comedy, right?) I know I enjoyed Ghost World in both film and graphic forms a whole lot more.
This 88 page collection charts a few months after two misfit best friends graduate high school. I hate using the word misfit here, but with their distaste of the mainstream, incredibly cynical take on the world and their difficulty with connecting with anyone other than each other – well I am not sure of the word.
Now this makes Ghost World sound incredible nihilistic, but there is a fantastic streak of black and absurdist comedy that runs through it. This is a world where they somehow make a successful jokes about the popular girl at school getting a facial tumour, amateur satanists and media whores that defend child molesting priests.
Okay, so maybe I have gone off topic here. The big draw of Ghost World is the relationship between Enid and Becky (with the good hair?). Their ups, downs and fights just feel so realistic; even when the topic of their flight feels slightly out of the ordinary.
Artwise I found it interesting that all the pages were tinted blue, making this a black, white & blue comic. It’s something I did not notice on the first read, but when I went back to have a quick flick through before writing this up it suddenly hit me. It’s almost like viewing the story through an iceberg or with melancholic coloured glasses. It makes me wonder if this had an effect on my reading of the comic on a subconscious level.
With its brutally honest take on life as a teenager and the associated angst this is one of those graphic novels that should really be recommended to anyone going through this stuff. Good to know you’re not alone, you know?