Review: F*ck Off Squad GN
F*ck Off Squad is a slice of life piece that follows three friends meandering through their lives in a series of bad relationships. It's a bit of a tough book for me because while there are elements that I enjoyed, I really just had a difficult time caring about these characters. I think that I may have loved the book overall 10-15 years ago, but many of those elements I would have loved back then fell a bit flat for me today.
The book is divided by three chapters, all originally published at different times. This allows you to see the development of the creators and their storytelling skills, and it's truly impressive how much sharper it gets by the final chapter. Each chapter also has a slightly different narrative motif or technique, making each one a unique experiment. They do all have one cohesive element though, and that's the captions.
I think me circa 2000 would have loved all of that completely and without reservation, just as 2000 me loved Brian Michael Bendis' dialogue and layout experiments back then. After a few decades I got pretty tired of Mr. Bendis' style though, so while I can appreciate some of these captions they also wear very thing very quickly. They become too much visual clutter, and often highlight characters that never appear again or do anything in the story. It definitely creates a unique tone and voice for the series, but after so many pages it's just unnecessary, repetitive, and bogs the flow of the pacing down.
Besides the captions, the other narrative layout mechanics consist of skateboarding visual highlights in chapter one, splash pages with in-set focuses in chapter 2, and finally the use of cell phones for paneling in chapter 3. Chapter three is by far the strongest as the experiments are more creative, more successful, and much more engaging. They didn't limit themselves to using the cell phone narrative devices either, and some of the other experimental scenes really shine.
I guess I like focusing on the visual storytelling aspects more than the actual story simply because I had such a difficult time giving a crap. That mostly stems from all the characters constantly making terrible decisions and not really learning anything from them, but then if this was going more for realism then by those terms it's actually a rousing success. It's just that I've had to deal with enough toxic humans in my life that I don't find it terribly engaging to read about more of them.
On the positive side though it is a diverse cast featuring queer people of color. It presents the characters in a very casual manner as well, so it feels like a very comfortable and inclusive snapshot of these character's lives. Well, not so comfortable with all the cheating, squabbling, and general denial of making healthy decisions, but you get what I'm going for, right?
I think this is very much a case of I'm just not the right audience for the book, even though I may have been years ago. I do really appreciate the gradual development of skill and storytelling that we get to see as the chapters progress, and I really enjoy Nicole Goux's art the more I check out. I would say that if you are in the mood for messy romances and honest slice of life storytelling that captures people being flawed humans then this is probably going to hit the spot for you.