Monday, August 10, 2015

High and Dry: Corinne Mucha's Get Over It

Get Over It was an unusual choice for Secret Acres, a publisher that has tended to eschew autobio comics during its ten-odd years publishing books. Corinne Mucha's book is a very specific kind of autobio: a book about the experience of mourning a powerfully important romantic relationship over a period of several years. Mucha's approach is to break it down as a series of amusing vignettes, mythbusting lectures and visceral outpourings of emotion. Mucha simultaneously tells the story with a layer of distance, as though she's a fictional character and this is a "once upon a time" and gives each painful moment a quality of unavoidable immediacy. It's as though retelling the story caused Mucha to relive each moment--or at least allow her to occupy a mental and emotional space that allows her to convey this state to her readers.

Get Over It isn't simply a bitch session about her ex-boyfriend, though he certainly comes off as being cold, insensitive and detached. What's interesting about their break-up is that it stemmed from her asking him a simple question: "Where do you see our relationship going?" When he said that he wanted to get married one day, just not to her, it was a moment of stark and brutal honesty that set off a chain reaction of anxiety, misery and self-loathing in Mucha. It also set up an on-again, off-again paradigm that was obviously unhealthy for both of them. As the mother of a friend once said regarding relationships: "Don't ooze out, get out!" This book is all about oozing: the emotional equivalent of pulling the band-aid off, a micron at a time.

The fractured and episodic nature of the book is both its biggest strength and greatest weakness. A blow-by-blow, chronological account of the break-up would have been unbelievably tedious, and Mucha wisely avoids that approach. Each vignette, while roughly occurring in chronological order, tackles a different concept. That includes the phenomenon of Mucha suffering from a burst ovarian cyst smack in the middle of the breakup, drawing an interesting line between emotional tumult and physical side effects; the feeling of experiencing a "new normal"; and the concept of being "destined" to be in a particular relationship. The problem is that this fractured narrative fails to sustain itself over the course of the book, becoming repetitive and even tedious over time, especially since Mucha talks about the aftereffects of the breakup instead of the issues at hand that failed to make it work.

Instead, Mucha shares the ways in which her brain "ran laps" inside her head, which was less about actual insight and more about wrestling with her own jumbled emotions. When she managed to make it funny, like drawing her brain and heart as anthropomorphic entities, the comic is frequently hilarious. When it's just Mucha drawing herself on a couch crying and wondering why this is happening (again), those scenes simply have less impact as they're repeated through various stages of the story. Those are also the least visually interesting scenes as well. Throughout the book, the decorative quality of her lettering and the way it merges with her images creates an expressive gestalt that's engaging and witty. When she abandons this approach, her stripped-down drawings suffer in comparison. Ultimately, this is an interesting autobio comic that feels a bit padded. It examines a number of emotional issues in detail, though it's often at the expense of providing the reader a clear emotional understanding of both her own real flaws and strengths as well as those of her boyfriends. As such, too much of this book skims the emotional surface of a deeply powerful, devastating emotional experience.

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