Diary of a Douchebag
If you’re interested in comics that show you what it might be like to live a different kind of life, you should check out Nico Harriman’s Diary of a Douchebag (available on ComiXology).
It’s the story of a frat guy. Willie is the type of character that gets a lot of denigration lately, blamed for all kinds of regressive, abusive attitudes. And here, he deserves it, but by letting us see what happens to Willie in comparison to how he raves about everything in his journal (ambivalently kept), Harriman creates a sympathetic understanding that pulls us along on Willie’s journey.
It’s that diary that gives us the earliest hint of Willie’s eventual growth. While he opens by reassuring himself that keeping a journal isn’t “gay”, he also states that he wants to “look back on how awesome I was in college.” Anyone who has to tell himself that has doubts, and we quickly see how frat life has its issues — hazing, scut work, and how badly frat president Chad treats him.
It’s amusing seeing Willie recast the world as he wishes it was. Normal girl in his class is assigned to be a project partner, so she says, “We should exchange numbers since we’ll be working together.” His diary says “She wants me so bad. She is practically begging for it.” We know better, but we also know that Willie doesn’t have much in his life, which explains his clinging to fantasy about what his life is supposed to be.
Many young cartoonists have issues with anatomy, so it was refreshing to see Harriman’s figures be reasonably structured. They’re expressive, and they’re operating in realistic spaces with recognizable backgrounds.
As the book continues, we find out what brought Willie to this point and what he’s really interested in. He’s fleshed out as a character, providing explanation (but not excuse) for his actions. I was surprised at how much I liked following his journey, and I wound up rooting for him. (The artist provided a digital review copy.)