Thinking of You (But Not Like In a Weird Creepy Way) | Review
Thinking of You (But Not Like In a Weird Creepy Way)
by Beth Evans
Andrews McMeel, $16.99
Older Teens and Adults
Thank goodness we still get book collections of webcomics, or I’d never have stumbled across this heart-warming and reassuring collection.
Some might quibble with the term comics as applied to this style, but simplicity can be deceptive. Each panel is a page, and each features the most minimal lump creatures (as seen on the cover). The insight is impressive, however. A simple illustration accompanied by a statement of reassurance evokes more than either piece alone would.
The iconography is also elegant. For example, a scribble stands in for a tangle of feelings. It’s obvious, and yet perfect. The reader has space to put their own anxieties into the scribble, and the author’s message makes it through without needing detail. There’s also a recurring picture of the lump with a crown labeled with an affirmation.
Publicity mentions Evans’ goal “to make her readers feel seen, uplifted, and not so alone in the world,” and uses words like “validating” and “encouragement”. Such material risks becoming sappy or so universal as to be meaningless, but Evans, based on my experience, actually succeeds. She has a real skill in boiling down complicated emotions to those single-panel pages. She also takes the obvious beyond, as when a ghost labeled “embarrassing thing I did years ago” is answered with “please, I’m so much more cringey now.” I’ve seen plenty of everyday life strips that would have stopped with drawing the ghost, instead of recontextualizing it.
This book is comforting. The lump might be a lump, but it feels anxiety or pressure the same way we do, and that makes us not so alone. It got me to finally answer that email I’d been putting off and take a stab at fixing an over-long to-do list. Another page simply thanks the reader for being themselves, which is basic but sometimes just what’s needed. There’s an underlying honesty that makes the affirmations more believable, as Evans demonstrates that things aren’t always going to be happy or as intended.
The book isn’t rated for a particular age range, and the publisher groups it under humor for adults, but I suspect older teens would also find a lot of comfort here (if they weren’t frightened off by realizing “adults” sometimes feel just as uncertain as they do).
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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