Missouri Boy by Leland Myrick

Comic: Missouri Boy
Release date: September 2006
Writer and artist: Leland Myrick
Publisher: First Second ':01'
Cover: full-color
Interior: full-color
Synopsis: Happiness alternates with tragedy in these snapshots of Myrick's own Missouri childhood. Filled with startling and at times achingly beautiful images -- from a perfect paper airplane flying in the autumn sky to visits to the "underwear pond" to a solitary cross-country motorcycle trip -- Myrick has created a graphic poem that brings together the experiences that formed his character, for better and for worse. 

The Deal

I often visit 'Het Boekenfestijn' which is a book wholesaler that sells books (new), graphic novels (new) and comics (new and 2nd hand) at very low prices. They pop up in big venues all around the Netherlands and Belgium every couple of weeks. They usually have two large rows with tables filled with comics, TPB and HC's. That's where I found Missouri Boy. The cover intrigued me, but I wasn't completely sold on it when I flipped through the inner pages,. The way the faces and especially the lips, were drawn didn't speak to me at all, but it had planted a seed in my head that grew and made me come back to flip through it a couple more times. I really wanted to like it. At the end of the day I finally took it home with me. 

The Feel

The book is beautifully made, both the front and back cover have an inside flap and are made of thick sturdy paper which will last you for years even if you read the book over and over again. The interior pages are made up of full color printed bleached matte paper. The whole book is kept together with perfect binding and it looks and feels very good in your hands. All the pages in my copy were perfectly cut and bound with perfect binding. The overall matte colors on the interior pages were printed to perfection and the whole book feels very professionally made. The typography and the floating leaves on the cover have been UV spot coated.

The Story

This autobiographic graphic novel reads like a collection of poems. The single chapters are a collection of snippets from Myricks life. If you're looking for a book with a plot, a clear beginning and and end, this is not the one for you. 
Myrick starts at the beginning, literary, at his and his twin-brothers birth. A beautiful story of the cycle of life which is followed by ten chapters filled with some of the memories of his life as he grows up in Missouri. The memories aren't all happy ones. He shows us his older brother as he gets sentenced to ten years imprisonment and gets bullied by his friends and even his twin. They're counter weighed by happy memories. The ones that stuck with me the most were "Paper Airplane" and "Underwear Pond". Each chapter is a new memory, a new year, a new feeling and perspective of the world. It's the poetry of life.

The Look

When I first saw the book I was drawn to it because of the beautiful bright orange colours on the cover. I flipped through the inner pages and just wasn't sure if I should buy it. I liked everything about the artwork except for the way Myrick draws the lined lips. Weird how something so small can have such an impact. That being said I also realize it's the whole book that does it for me, the snippets, the artwork and especially the colors make this book. It's Myricks life and his drawings as he sees his memories. The predominant colours are brown, green and blue matte. I like how the snippets of Myricks life all have a title and a chapter page with the year of when the memory took place. It gives you time to say goodbye to the last memory before beginning a new one. 

The Conclusion

Especially after thinking so hard about getting/not getting this graphic novel I'm now so happy to have it in my bookcase. The chapters are really nice and the autobiographical nature just make you think of your own childhood. I think most readers that are older than thirty-five can relate to one or more of these stories. You will better understand it when you're a certain age, because your own memories will fit his more then when you've been born twenty years later. I do think the original price of 16,95 USD is a bit steep, I would probably not have bought it at it's original price.  

How to get a copy

I can't find it up on the First Second website any more but that's not strange for a book from 2006. You can still find it on Amazon USA or else you'll most likely find it at a 2nd hand (online) book store (ISBN 1-59643-110-5). 
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