Originally written by Neil Gaiman and adapted by the incredible Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is hypnotic and bittersweet.
Enn, a fifteen-year-old who generally finds himself unable to talk to girls, is dragged to a party by his superiorly handsome and dashing friend, Vic. Vic loves girls and through Enn’s eyes has a much easier time at getting his hands on them (figuratively and literally). They end up at a part where Vic immediately attaches himself to a beautiful young woman, leaving Enn to wander about, where he comes into contact with a series of women, each interaction becoming more surreal than the last.
All of the creators here understand that otherworldly aura that women can have to a young man in the midst of his teenage years – that magical quality that scares you, yet draws you towards them – and the creators capitalize on and elevate that feeling by literally making the women here otherworldly.
The fusion of dialogue, art, coloring (so vibrant!), and lettering gives you that sensation of being engulfed in a labyrinth of a party that makes you feel like an outsider. You poke around, get caught up in casually odd conversations, think you’re making a connection but no connection lasts, because the flow is scattering everything constantly in different directions. Every party that I went to in my teenage years and my twenties, I felt like this. The only thing missing is the household pet that I would pay attention to for a while.
Moon and Bá create a space that embraces magical realism; everything here is both surreal and utterly recognizable, and those elements play on your memories of being young and figuring things out. Hidden in the midst of this is a lesson is not so much a moral, but a bit of wisdom that plays into the title of the book. Despite the difficulty that Enn has in connecting, because he speaks respectfully to these women, because he listens to what they say, because he doesn’t judge or see them as something to attain, he gets closer to figuring out the secrets of these women than Vic ever will. Those secrets are beautiful and magnificent. What Vic finds is far more devastating.
In closing, there’s a beautiful series of panels that draws closer to the water in a cup. It’s both intimate and epic in ways that few comic book creators can pull off. This isn’t only a beautiful piece of art that everyone should own, it’s a class on how to create comics, and one of my next goals it to track down and read everything that Moon and Bá have created. If you haven’t read their work, this is an incredible introduction.