Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 8

Blue Pills

by Frederik Peeters
Genre notes: romance, illness
192 pages
ISBN: 061882099X (Amazon)

I'm not a fan of autobio comics (there are a glut of them) unless there is an interesting story there or the book is superlatively accomplished. Blue Pills is both. It's about how the author met and fell in love with a woman and then she told him that she and her young son are HIV positive.

What does it mean that every time you stick your penis into the person you love more than anything—an act you mean for pleasure and to give pleasure—you might be pulling the trigger on your own demise? What does it mean for the woman you’re with that every time you have sex, she might have accidentally killed you? What about this sweet little boy? How will he get through those awkward teen years? It’s hard enough to talk to girls you’re into when the culmination of your youthful horniness won’t kill them. And what if that kid doesn’t even survive to be a teenager? Nothing, after all, is certain. And the anger. At science, at fate, at friends, at society. At death. What do you do about the anger?

This is what Blue Pills is about. The stuff that often matters so much more than the summary of events that make up our lives (and deaths). And Peeters does a good job keeping this from feeling pedantic—even when by the end he’s strayed almost entirely into rumination. He keeps the book feeling real, feeling close, feeling intimate. And that’s why when we look into the son’s bright wide eyes, we can’t help but romanticize. Because there’s magic there. A magic that Peeters, through art and through script, unveils. And Peeters could have done that thing that everybody does when telling a story about something tragic like HIV: he could have made it tragic. He could have pulled at hearts and strings. He could have cultivated pity and mournfulness in the reader, but that’s the last thing he wants. Blue Pills is not a sad story. And there’s magic in that too.

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