How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Ten years ago, Neil Gaiman wrote a short story called “How to Talk to Girls at Parties“. Set in the 1970s, it’s narrated by a teen boy being taken to a party by his more experienced, charming friend, and most of it is a monologue about how uncomfortable the narrator feels about almost everything. (Very appropriate for the age!) Girls are alien to him, in every sense including the literal.
The appeal of this story is the language, glorious in its description of mood and experience. And that’s one of the many things the comic adaptation of How to Talk to Girls at Parties, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, gets right. They include many of Gaiman’s words, but not too many, as caption boxes, layered over their lovely watercolor art.
Another thing that’s well-done is the use of detail. For a story that’s so much in one character’s head, seeing what he’s seeing and doing grounds the experience. The sun-washed coloring gives it a glow reminiscent of memory that suits the mood of the story. My only quibble is that the guys look significantly older than the 15 years they’re supposed to be. The artists do an excellent job with the women, though, giving them an ethereal, unworldly look, with wide, staring eyes.
I hadn’t heard of this story before the release of the comic, and I’d describe it as a turning point incident more than a traditional story, with much left to the imagination. It’s interesting to see how brothers Moon and Bá interpreted the descriptive elements, and their work is attractive, potentially bringing the work to a different audience. Plus, for those brought in by the title, the advice on such isn’t bad.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties is also going to be a movie, out later this year, co-written and directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), and starring Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman. The story has been changed slightly, as this piece has it:
The script by Philippa Goslett and Mitchell turns [it] into more of a two-hander love story focusing on a schoolboy and punk who uses music and art as a way to escape and a female alien tourist (Fanning) who wants to escape her tour group and explore the most dangerous place in the galaxy, the London suburb of Croydon.
That might explain the timing of the release. Dark Horse has always been media-savvy that way. They’ve posted preview pages. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)