June 11, 2016

ARC Review: The Fun Family, by Benjamin Frisch

Title: The Fun Family

Author: Benjamin Frisch

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Expected Date of Publication: July 12th, 2016

Number of Pages: 240

Find it at : Book Depository

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

Beloved cartoonist Robert Fun has earned a devoted following for his circle-shaped newspaper comic strip, celebrating the wholesome American family by drawing inspiration from his real home life... but the Fun Family bears some dark secrets. As their idyllic world collapses and the kids are forced to pick up the pieces, can they escape the cycle of art imitating life imitating art? In his debut graphic novel, Benjamin Frisch presents a surreal deconstruction of childhood, adulthood, and good old American obsession.

Review

The Fun Family must be one of the most misleading books I've ever read! The cover design, the vivid colours, the font, didn't prepare me for what I was about to read. The Fun Family was not fun at all! Instead of a light comedy about a family, this was a heart-wrenching comic about a family that was steadily falling apart.

This lack of communication, that appeared to be at the root of everything, began when the grandmother died. The father acted completely indifferent to any other member of the family and the mother became an easy victim of Dr. Connoy, a celebrated therapist who could change her life. Under his influence, she left her home, she abandoned her children, and cared only for her well-being. Even the youngest child, that she took with her was left aside for the sake of her own needs. The remaining children had to deal with an absent father, who refused to work, and a mother that didn't even visit them and only called to ask for her money.

This story made me question the bonds they had as a family prior to these events. Was it the grandmother that kept them together? Can grief really change people that much? The eldest daughter of the family encountered and spoke to the ghost of the grandmother and, with the ghost's suggestion, she turned the house into a church. I know that there are many who turn to religion for comfort, but this is extreme! The only sane one was the middle child, who tried to make ends meet, but what could a ten year old do?

The art style, as is apparent in the cover, reminded of another era. I would expect to see something like this in an old Archie comic strip, which I like. But I had a big problem. The eyes of characters were just white circles, and this was so weird because they seemed so empty. Especially when they were crying the image was so unsettling!

The Fun Family was a depressing read. It was a comic that made you wonder who is the sane one in an insane world. It told the story of irresponsible parents and irresponsible therapist, and what mark these behaviours left to the children. If you can get past the title and the cheerful cover, then you'll discover a deep comic worth reading.

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