|I Like My Job by Sarah Herman|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A graphic overlook at office doldrums with a wit and bravura performance showing through in the most simple, basic-seeming, doodle-type lines.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 296||Date: June 2009|
|Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd|
If you've ever been faced by too many Post-Its at the same time, or a performance review, or copious yards of errant electrical cabling all round your workspace - and especially if you've been left with an apologetic pineapple on your desk - this is a book for you. Here the office life is all delegating this, blah blah talk about that, and hanging far too much on the one guy who seems to be most with-it when it comes to the computers. It's a black and white world, on the whole, where you always get what you generally expected.
This book itself is a very black and white world, but I can't say the same here as regards getting what you expected. It's a very interestingly stylised graphic novel, of five or six extended short stories regarding office life. The pictures themselves are brutally simplistic, but at the same time there is a great craft and artfulness in how body language, the positions of people's hands etc are conveyed with so few lines.
Also noticeable is the way the story-telling is done. So often the 2x2 grid of frames is used up by silent images, which add copious nuances to the pace, mood and effect of the story. Yet also it is often actually overlaid over one full-page spread, and the guttering between the four pics at times appears unnecessary. It's an awkward technique to describe, but it adds to the time jumps between drawings, keeps us on our toes, and does a lot of other things that make this book really so distinguished.
Also of credit in the illustrations are the very literal-ness of some of them. When our narrator wishes to have her heart in something, there it is, literally being shoved into place. When some large proportion of the workforce have left, there they are - a third of their bodies marked out by lines of ghostly dashes.
There is also an abundance of diagrammatic labelling, which you might well find in other graphic novels, but never before done with such regard to whimsy, and befitting the subject matter of the piece. They add to the doodle style, and I know some people will not succumb to the apparent artlessness of the images, but for me the book compelled with many of the decisions our artist has made.
Like the Powerpoint presentations it so rightfully denigrates, it might at first appear a little empty, flashy, and short, but there is a depth here and an intriguing way of layout that makes this book one of great promise. I Like My Book, and I'm thankful to Jonathan Cape's nice people for the Bookbag's review copy.
More equally unusually styled working life in graphic novel form can be found in A Day in the Life of Alfred by Oivind Hovland.
You can read more book reviews or buy I Like My Job by Sarah Herman at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy I Like My Job by Sarah Herman at Amazon.com.
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