We all love sharing the things we love. Showcasing and talking about what touched us, amazed us, made us laugh or cry. I hate the concept of guilty pleasure. I strongly believe that you should love what you love. Period. And somehow certain things are better appreciated if they stay hidden.
There is a category of books that I do not really talk about, and not for lack of having enjoyed them. Across comics and prose, these are the ones I do not want to share because I liked them too much. Sometimes a story, a character, a tone resonates so much with you that it becomes hard to talk about.
I am more than willing to talk about certain comics that have had a very deep impact on me, the way I see the world, or the way I interact with it. Some of them have changed the way I read comics forever. Some of them have had an even more significant impact on my life in general. Yoko Tsuno, Corto Maltese, Locke and Key, Southern Bastards, anything Bilal or Marc-Antoine Mathieu have ever produced… I have talked a lot about these here. And I could go on forever.
But a very small number of books get a more exclusive status. They become part of my secret garden, part a little world I want to keep to myself. Stories that touched so close to home that I consider them part of my extended self. I just don’t want to share. It is absolutely selfish!
Part of it is probably not being able to handle criticism of them. I am not one to shy away from an animated debate to defend what I like, but in this case any attack to the comic feels personal. These comics are not perfect, but I do not want anyone else pointing out their flaws. Especially not anyone who I might have recommended them to.
Recently a very famous French radio show –dare I say an institution- turned 60 (Le masque et la Plume, broadcasted on France Inter). It’s a weekly show with a number of panelists recommending (or not recommending, as the case may be) books, theater shows, and films. They have elevated critiquing and reviewing to an art form that sometimes –often– turns into yelling at each other. It’s very French. But I digress. An author who had been frequently reviewed and critiqued on the show was invited for the 60th anniversary celebration. He said that what he liked about reviews is how much people talk about themselves when they review any form of creation. And I think this is also why I do not talk about these comics. It is a form of self-restraint, probably because of how much they say about me.
That is not to say that I do not want anyone else to read them. I do not want to burst my tiny bubble. Yet if anyone has found their way to them independently, it is still a source of happiness. I distinctly remember a dinner at which a relatively new acquaintance at the time, quoted one of those books I do not like talking about –looking your way John– and I just felt this instant excitement you get when you meet someone who is into the same things you are. So apparently the special status does not mean that my selfishness has no bounds! I just do not want to be the person who is going to broadcast my “special comics” or defend their value in the eyes of the world.