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Perfect ExampleReview - Perfect Example
by John Porcellino
Drawn & Quarterly, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Nov 23rd 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 47)

Perfect Example is a collection of stories by John Porcellino about his teenage years.  At the end of the book, Porcellino outlines his life story in three pages of writing, and says that he hated his Chicago suburban high school, experienced depression, had some drinking problems, and was sometimes suicidal.  Now in his thirties, he has gone through several episodes of anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder; now on his second marriage, he now lives in San Francisco.

Porcellino's drawing style is very simple, bordering on the naïve.  There's almost no shading, and each page is split up into four rows, with a mixture of one and two frames per row.  Most faces are drawn with dots or small lines for eyes, a short arch for an eyebrow, a U or V on its side for a nose, and either a line or an oval for a mouth.  It makes his characters seem childish, and emotions become simplified.  He chronicles some romances and emotional crises, and he gets confused by other people's behavior, as most of us do, especially in youth.  His unhappiness is touching but Porcellino does not convey much depth to it.  He tries to explain his spiritual struggles, setting out his realizations, for example, that "Things come and go.  But they are no more real than shadows on the wall." or later that "Life is like a dream."  This makes his work distinctive and more interesting.  Yet his thoughts about seem solipsistic rather than derived from dialog with others, and you finish with an impression of a very isolated person trying to reach out to other people. 

 

 

 

Links:

·        Drawn & Quarterly

·        John Porcellino's website

 

© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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