Too Cool to be Forgotten: Basically a Cat Stevens Song / by David Anderson


Well, if Cat Stevens sang about time travel, anyway. Too Cool is a short book, and it will go quickly. Kind of like life, really, which is what this comic book is about.

Award-winning author/illustrator Alex Robinson gives us the story of a software engineer named Andrew Wicks who is goaded by his wife into trying to kill his tobacco addiction by going to see a hypnotist. He's skeptical of the usefulness of hypnotherapy and mostly goes just to humor his wife, but once he's in the seat and under its effects, he finds himself back in high school in 1985. Back to the Future is just coming out, the Russians are coming, it's just a few days or so until the party where he smokes his first cigarette, and he finds that while all the wisdom he gained in the last 25 years is with him, he is forced to relive his awkward years in his 15-year-old body. He quickly finds that this disposition is a curse as he trips over all kinds of emotions and experiences--from nostalgia and newfound confidence to anxiety and misery as he relives and remembers.

Although Wicks is about forty-four or so, the main message encoded in this work applies to anyone, including high-schoolers. Wicks' adult experiences give him new confidence and allows him to impress his friends by asking out a girl he never had the nerves to in his first runthrough of '85. He stands up to teachers and spikes his hair, doing things he'd never normally do with his new lease on life and perspective.

It's that age-old wish everyone has--to be able to go back in time and force yourself to look in the mirror and go, "Listen. Everything you're doing right now? It doesn't matter. It's bullshit. You are not going to care what happens here 20 years from now."

It's pretty feel-good in the beginning, but as Wicks continues his adventure we see the things he wishes he could change, the problems that followed him then and still weigh heavily on him now, and you will feel his pain as if it were your own. It might even have been your own at one time, perhaps. All your problems are here, from teenage angst, peer pressure and underage drinking, to mom's fears, your sister's future problems, and of course the great equalizer, death. They're all here for you to face off against once again, hopefully for the better. Death is a subject I've been dealing with personally lately, and so this book struck a particularly painful chord.

It's a good pain, though.

The art style is typical. It's very good, but its black and white scheme is pretty common and so differentiating from other monochromes, typically defined by newspaper comics, is a potential problem. I think it does well in making itself known through the character designs, which is how Alex makes his world vibrant--you can really feel the awkwardness, smell the high school hormones and sweat and all the other nasty things that made that time so weird for us all. It might be Wicks' high school, his friends, and his family, but it might as well be yours too, because face it, you're remembering right alongside him. And of course, it being the 80s, everyone is sporting the worst hairstyles.

Teenage proportions are gangly and awkward while the school faculty are as boring in appearance and personality as you remember them, but seeing them through the eyes of a 40 year old reliving his pimpled years forces you to think about a lot of things--like, for instance, the fact that you are their ages now, and that they in fact may have been people, too.

Existentialist tales like this might be a dime a dozen, but they don't come too often like this. I think you'll like it.

It's a nice, short tale of a man trying to overcome things that have tortured him for years. Maybe it will help you deal with something too.

Also, there's a typo on page 84 that was completely intentional--just a heads up so you don't get confused.

TL;DR: Too Cool to be Forgotten is good afternoon read about all the moments you can never take back.

Too Cool to be Forgotten is written and illustrated by Alex Robinson and published by Top Shelf Productions. You can ask for it in your local comic book shop, buy it from Amazon, a book store orTop Shelf's webstore.