Panel to Panel

Panel to Panel
By Nathan Patton

Too Cool To Be Forgotten

Author: Alex Robinson
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Cost: $14.95

High-concept is not usually as effective in comics as it is in other art forms. But Alex Robinson (“Box Office Poison”) tries to change that in his latest graphic novel about a man given an opportunity to relive part of his high school years.
Andy Wicks, a middle-aged family man, has tried every available method to quit smoking. As a last resort he agrees to see a hypnotist. One moment he’s drifting into a deep sleep and the next he’s transported back in time 25 years into the body of his 15-year-old self, seemingly in order to have a second chance at just saying no to his first cigarette.
Robinson treads this very familiar territory as if he’s the pioneer of it. But there’s very little original insight offered. Robinson spends too much time dissecting the first act to really get to know teenage Andy or his life in more than a superficial way. Not that there’s a lot to get to know. Most of the characters are one-dimensional archetypes roaming the halls while Andy’s overly expository thought balloons tell us about them.
The first truly interesting moment comes when Robinson briefly taps into the cynic in Andy during one scene in which he tells a fellow high school student just how dark and dreary the future really is. But it goes right back into predictable plot twists and stale humor until the ending which, aside from being foreshadowed by an embarrassingly deliberate spelling error, comes out of nowhere and falls flat.
Artistically, Robinson is a phenomenal storyteller and designer. What he lacks in originality in plot and story, he almost makes up for with interesting page layouts, fantastic black and white line work, and stylish design. His characters all have distinctive looks and simple but emotive facial expressions.
But style can’t save this fun idea from being squandered by derivative and predictable plot twists. Fans of Robinson’s earlier work would probably be better off ignoring the word balloons or simply waiting for the next one.

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