By John Porcellino. Published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Softcover, 132 pages, B&W, 2020 (originally published 2000)
A melancholic memoir of saying goodbye to the familiar
Brimming with empathy and a charming, self-aware wit, Perfect Example is King-Cat zinester John Porcellino’s coming-of-age memoir about the momentous, but seemingly never-ending year between the end of high school and the start of university. His year spans awkward house parties, first kisses, guitar practice, and the cultivation of new friendships. Yet, even though he has a new girlfriend, and goes on spontaneous road trips to sneak in to 21+ concerts, Porcellino is plagued by incessant sadness, seeking him to contemplate suicide. As he traverses the 1980s Chicago suburbs on his skateboard, Porcellino seeks to engage with society all the while struggling to keep his own sadness at bay. When he fails to remedy his depression, he turns inward, offering illuminating graphic depictions of psychological distress.
Pocellino’s minimalism proves uniquely evocative in this novel, revealing the universality of his narrative. His auto-biographical renderings frame difficult experiences within the context of empathetic reflection, offering up a new way for us to read our own pasts, and be kind to our younger selves. In his transparency and attention to the minute details of human interaction, Porcellino’s inventive storytelling is as affecting now as it was upon its original distribution in mini comics.
“John Porcellino creates some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, sympathetic and, yes, beautiful comix in America.”—Time.com
“John Porcellino's comics distill, in just a few lines and words, the feeling of simply being alive.”—Chris Ware
“What I immediately liked about Perfect Example was the spareness of the way it was drawn. After reading it, I was pleased to find out there's much more to it than beautiful artwork. It's sublime and profound and one of my favorite graphic novels.”—Chester Brown
"The spare and elegant artwork (and John’s puffy forelock) really recalled Charlie Brown for me, and the author echoes Schulz’s visual simplicity as he clears the stage for a deep plunge into existentialism and a critical look at life in the suburbs."—Youth Services Book Review
"[John Porcellino's] work illuminates the greatness of all humanity, for in his own existence, he finds beauty in his surroundings, in nature, his pets, in encounters with strangers."–New City
"Porcellino immortalizes the places that most people would drive by without a second glance... It's the kind of drawing that makes you want to go outside and pay attention to the world."–The Chicago Reader
"Porcellino... is a master of the form. His genius comes from the deceptively unpretentious nature of his work. The black and white drawings, the irregular squares of his panels, and his deep, often painful subject matter all coalesce to display singular comics craftsmanship of the highest order."–Comics Beat
"What began as an experiment in tune with the punk aesthetic of the time has evolved, over all these years, into a vision and body of work that continues to push the boundaries of artistic expression."