Book Review: To Get Her
Written and Illustrated by:
Black and White Graphic Novel, Soft Cover, 176 pages
This is the jam: is it better for the soul to have one romantic love; one mate for your entire adult life, or is it healthier to accept life as a series of relationships that usually come to an end in one form or other? Is our own personal happiness too large a responsibility to assign to another? Is to do so lazy?
What happens when an artist is given a chunk of money, no deadline, and total creative freedom? Readers get graphic novels like Bernie Mireault’s To Get Her, a 176-page, 8-years-in-the-making labour of love.
Those of us who have followed Bernie’s work throughout the years will recognize that To Get Her is the continuation of a storyline from The Jam, a back-up feature that appeared in a Canadian comic book from the mid ‘80’s entitled Northguard.
The Jam was a humorous yet oddly realistic portrayal of a charming average Joe named Gordon Kirby who, with his dog Harvey, puts on a baggy superhero costume and patrols the rooftops, alleyways and streets of a city strongly resembling Montreal. Gordon’s strange adventures are interspersed with his relationship with his girlfriend Janet Ditko. All in all, though, The Jam was a happy-go-lucky feel-good type of strip.
To Get Her is a different animal altogether. Gordon Kirby has put his costumed adventures to bed and is now a struggling comic book artist. Times are tough, his bank account is running on empty, and his 10-year relationship with his girlfriend is souring. Bernie effectively evokes all of the awkward situations and pungent emotions produced by a love affair long past its due date.
Many cartoonists rule a comic grid out onto a page and draw pretty pictures inside of the panels, but Bernie understands that sequential art is about more than attractive drawings – it’s about moving the story forward. He has a good grasp of what goes on in the gutters in between the panels and uses time and space effectively. Bernie’s dialogue is very good and his art – while a bit quirky – is never the less uniquely appealing.
Bernie experiments with many ideas and techniques in To Get Her. I’m not going to tell you what they are – I don’t believe in spoilers – but I will say that it was refreshing to get more than the standard fare that seems to be the accepted norm in comic books today. We need more risk takers…more passionate comic book makers…and Bernie definitely falls into that category.
I have always accepted that Bernie’s style of lettering is an extension of his inking technique. However, since he drew most, if not all, of To Get Her digitally, I wish that he had been more attentive to the size of the type and the shape of his balloons. They are the weakest presentation in his otherwise commendable comics work.
To Get Her is a standalone story. No prior knowledge of Bernie Mireault or The Jam is necessary to enjoy this tome. To Get Her is definitely more for the independently minded reader who is, perhaps, interested in slice-of-life stories and embracing artists with personal vision. I must tell you: I dig Bernie’s vision. I just hope that he doesn’t take another 8 years to produce his next graphic work.