Fangirls, I need to start off by saying that I’m not a huge fan of this story. It’s a bit confusing and sad and way more heavy than I was expecting. But I read this book when I was in California because my friend Laney invited me to go to a comic book club at her local shop.
Once a month, Beach Ball Comics hosts a comic book club. The workers at the shop choose a book that everyone can read (it is an adult crowd, so the books don’t seem to be child friendly), a group of people read them, and then everyone comes in and discusses the book. It’s something that I would love to be a part of regularly, but as I live in New York, and this shop is in California, it’s a bit difficult.
But the open discussion and friendliness of (almost) all of the attendees, was incredible. Though I was one of five women in a crowd of over ten men, I felt welcomed and safe, and like I could speak my mind. That stood out to me more than anything else. At the book club, we discussed everything about the book; the story, how everyone interpreted it, the art, the strengths and weaknesses of everything. It was a fantastic experience.
But the book.
The story is of a man who is an underwater welder. He prefers spending time underwater to spending it with his pregnant wife. The book spans over a couple short days, in which he seems to have a panic attack underwater, his wife gives birth, and he almost dies. It’s a lot to handle in such a short graphic novel (only 229 pages). There are some incredible flashbacks that shed a ton of light on who this man is, but I just didn’t like him, and that’s a big part of why I didn’t like the book.
This art, though, Fangirls. It’s beautiful. The book is done in inks and washes. It’s phenomenal. Lemire does both the writing and art for this, and I really prefer the art to the story. There are some splashes and single page pieces that are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
I didn’t expect to have an appreciation for this book, but I know the comic book club really helped show me the positives and intricacies of The Underwater Welder. I can’t say it’s something I would recommend to people with tastes similar to mine, but if you enjoy darker, moodier comics and graphic novels, this may be for you.
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