By Margaux Motin
Oh, this is all too easy really…. Gorgeously, glamourously, stylishly funny and clever.
Posy Simmonds meets Sex & The City. With all the best of Simmonds and little of the worst of S&TC.
That’s it. This reviewing lark is a piece of cake really.
Seriously. Look at this….
It’s all Posy Simmonds artwork meets a slightly raunchier foreign edge, wrapped up in something 50s advertising-esque, fashion iconography, extended lines and gorgeous looks.
And But I Really Wanted To Be An Anthropologist is absolutely full of this sort of gorgeousness, sometimes full page near gag cartoons, sometimes multiple image comic work like that. But pretty much everything in here is some combination of gorgeous and funny.
Motin is the classic 30-something Parisian woman we all like to imagine fill the streets of Paris; sweating perfume, floating effortlessly along, unhindered by simple things such as jobs, children, insecurities, blemishes, existing merely to be gorgeously stylish.
Except Motin’s job here is to prove just how wrong we can be. Sure, she covers glamourous, witty, clever, artistic so easily, but then her sig other and young daughter come into the picture, and we find out just how bloody difficult it is to spend your time drinking, smoking, dancing and generally being tres, tres young and carefree when children, jobs, mothers, illustration deadlines, and the pressure of keeping it all looking so very good get in the way.
And then there’s the shoes. Where do we expect Motin to fit in a shoe obsession with everything going on around her?
So what we get is someone on the cusp, that razor’s edge of glamour… on one side it’s effortless partying, drinking, smoking, looking good without trying, juggling everything life has to throw at you whilst looking fabulous.
On the other we have someone who works from home, dances around the room in her underwear, singing atrociously, with a child probably more mature than she is, a cat that hates her, and on the rare occasion she gets out the house she somehow manages to do something very, very silly. Usually involving drink.
Motin’s book is every bit what I expected, every bit what I hoped it would be, every bit the Posy/S&TC mash-up. Yes, it’s lazy to keep using that comparison, but it’s just so true. AND you instantly know what I mean by it.
You could, should you wish to, accuse it of being silly, lightweight. It’s certainly guilty of doing the whole idealised, yummy mummy thing to a tee, the “oh, look at me, I’m such a mess” proclamation so beloved by modern parents in the UK, wearing their inability to cope with all the extras they seem to think are necessary as a badge of honour. And Just like Sex & The City it could be accused of being utterly vacuous, a pale reflection on reality, presenting a hideously consumerised view of the modern world of women, relationships, parenting….
EXCEPT, that’s where the Posy Simmonds comparison comes in to it. That’s where the good comes in. That’s where it becomes something more than merely S&TC repeated for the comic page. Suddenly it becomes something deliberately exaggerated for comic and comedic effect, Motin taking her life and exposing it to ridicule, not in the ways those Yummy Mummys tend to, but in a genuine artistic view on her life, and all her faults, all her triumphs.
And on top of all this it’s beautifully drawn, Motin’s flowing colourful images literally floating across the page, unhindered by panels, not needing them to deliver something so effectively beautifully funny.
Her timing throughout is perfect, exquisite. I read it one beautiful day in the local gardens, and had to stifle the laughs, which were regular and rather loud. Simply couldn’t help myself. Funny as anything. I could have picked 20, 30 examples of pants-wettingly funny stuff, but here, as an ending have this. It’s perfect. Two panels of beauty, one panel of Motin pricking the beauty bubble, a moment between panels where Motin’s daughter delivers the substance of the gag, and then, with a beautiful aside to reader, Motin gets to floor you with the punchline…..
It would be too easy to relegate this to “present book”. Yes, it works as that, absolutely. Don’t let me stop you. But seriously, something this funny, this gorgeous? It belongs on your shelf as well.