Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dave Roman and John Green's Wonderfully Absurd Teen Boat

Teen Boat by Dave Roman & John Green
 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
I'd been selling Dave Roman and John Green's Teen Boat for a solid year, and while I've glanced at the cover a dozen times it never once occurred to me to actually look at it until two of our cooler regulars (whatup Bernardo and Isabella!) pointed out to me the absurdity of the tagline on the cover that I never bothered to read: "The ANGST of Being a Teen, The THRILL of Being a Boat!" In a state of minor awe we flipped through this nicely produced little graphic novel and were thunderstruck by the inspired silliness of it. (Inspired silliness if not outright hilarious absurdity.) The collection features a bunch of short stories of Teen Boat (real name: Teen Boat) a teenager with the power to... well, turn into a boat ("Actually, I'm more like a small yacht"). Sometimes he has control of it, sometimes he doesn't, like if a little bit of liquid drips into his ear. Green's illustrations are clean and have a nice straightforward energy to them, TB's transformation an exercise in ridiculousness. Roman and Green play it straight: Teen Boat just is a Teen Boat, he's dealing with standard teenage dramas (crushes, trying to get a job or learn how to drive, pirates, being used as a gambling haven by his friends in international waters). There's a certain zany stoner logic to the whole exercise, a nice illustration of comics potential anything-goes ethos. I really dig Green's illustrations and Roman's stories are short enough to not get bogged down as the concept doesn't hold up to too much scrutiny. The production values and overall presentation are top-notch, though. Would I actually recommend Teen Boat? Depends. It's not much more than a novelty, a great looking, well packaged novelty that doubles as a competent exercise into the absurd, but a novelty nonetheless.

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