At 96 pages, Big Kids a small book with some fundamental themes – friendship and relationships, sex, love and identity – in the guise of one of the strangest comics I’ve read in a long time.
As surreal as it is, however, it never feels unbelievable. Its depiction of teenage life is unflinching and frequently dark, but the point at which the story changes course – and all the characters and environments radically change in appearance – is a brilliant allusion to some of the self-realisations that happen around this messy and confusing time of life.
Without giving too much away, what starts out as a high school-set tale of early sexual exploration turns, about a quarter of the way through, into a dreamlike story about how we construct our own sense of self and try to forge connections with others. DeForge’s book suggests that we live in spite of our complex desires and feelings, not because of them.
Big Kids is a revelation and DeForge’s art is an unsettling, uncompromising and highly refreshing addition to the comics landscape.
Big Kids by Michael DeForge is published next month by Drawn & Quarterly (£11.99). See drawnandquarterly.com. More of DeForge’s work is at michael-deforge.com – two other books of his are available via D&A; Ant Colony and First Year Healthy.