Books

I Feel Love – Graphic Novel Review

I Feel Love is a new graphic novel filled with short stories about, you probably guessed it, love. However, this isn’t a book that explores cute and fluffy feeling of falling in love, or about how wonderful it is spending your life with someone. I Feel Love explores the darker side of what is one of the most powerful emotions, and offers what is at times a pretty disturbing anthology. The book contains six stories, written by a variety of authors, each of which comes with its own unique voice and very different and varying art styles.

‘Teen Swamp Monster’ is written and drawn by Benjamin Marra, and follows the exploits of Ronny, a young man who’s being sent off to experience a weekend of college life by his family. Ronny hardly speaks throughout the book, and it’s pretty clear from the start that he’s a nervous young man who’s easily dominated by those around him.

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Arriving on campus he’s desperate for female attention, but is completely unsure of how to go about getting it. When he buys some items from a local store, some synthetic weed and a collection of weird totems and crystals, he goes out into the swamp to get high, where he’s transformed into a strange swamp monster that’s able to seduce women with his pheromones.

The story is odd to say the least, and it really focuses on the isolation and social anxiety that Ronny faces. Ronny doesn’t even really share the panel with people, and hardly speaks throughout, and it’s not until his transformation into a horrific monster that he’s able to achieve his goals of being intimate with a woman. It’s a story where I’m not sure what the message is, whether it’s encouraging people to open up more and be more outgoing lest you become so isolated, or if it’s trying to say that an obsession with wanting companionship will turn you into a monster, as some kind of commentary on incels. Whatever the underlying message is it makes for a strange first entry in the book.

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‘I Want To Watch’ by Julian Hanshaw is about a middle-aged man and his wife. The story begins with the man travelling on the underground, seemingly getting himself worked up over going and asking another man something. We don’t know what that is yet, though it becomes apparent later in the story what he was trying to do.

Soon after this, he and his wife, Anna, travel abroad for a holiday. After unsuccessfully trying to encourage his wife to go topless we discover the man has a fetish for wanting to watch his wife sleep with another man, which he decides to bring up with her, proposing they use their holiday as the perfect opportunity to do so. The ending of the story sees the man left broken and dejected, and seems to be making a point about having to be careful when discussing your fetishes with your partner, and about making clear boundaries and distinctions or you could risk harming your relationship, yet doesn’t really make this clear enough or come out with a solid conclusion.

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These are only two of the stories in the collection, but the two that were the clearest to understand, yet even then I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to think, or what the creators were trying to say about love or its destructive qualities. Other stories in the book are even more abstract, and even out and out bizarre, with ‘Black Balloon’ seeming to make no sense whatsoever to me. I wouldn’t even have been able to tell you that most of these stories were about love if they weren’t in this collection.

If you’re looking for a book that’s going to examine love, how it can be a dark emotion that is destructive, as well as something that most people crave and want then I wouldn’t really recommend this book. However, if you’re looking for bizarre and twisted horror tales that don’t always have to make sense or explain everything this might just be worth checking out.

I Feel Love is out on 1st April from SelfMadeHero.

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