Graphic Novel Review: Mid-Life by Joe Ollmann
If you’ve read more than a couple of autobiographical comics or seen any Woody Allen movies the plot of Mid-Life will seem quite familiar to you. 40 year old John is having a mid-life crisis. He’s just become a father again with his young second wife, he doesn’t have a great relationship with his first two daughters and he is becoming irrelevant at work. As his problems multiply he feels sorry for himself and starts looking at younger women thinking he might be happier with them. This kind of story has been told lots of times many different ways so it’s surprising that Joe Ollmann manages to make it seem new and interesting.
He has a unique voice with quite a dark sense of humour. John’s world is populated with quirky and believable characters that are fleshed out very well within a short space of time. Although his writing is dense with a heavy use of narration the story moves along quite quickly with short chapters moving us from scene to scene. Part of the story is told from the perspective of Sherry, a children’s entertainer who John becomes infatuated with. She is at a similar point in her life and seems to have just as many problems as John. The biggest thing that separates Mid-Life from other comics of this type is Sherry’s story. It’s interesting to see a similar set of issues from a female perspective.
Ollmann has a rough art style that uses lots of thick lines and heavy shading. It’s also extremely detailed which can sometimes make for uncomfortable scenes. The size of his characters heads is slightly exaggerated with some of the most expressive faces I’ve seen in comics. My only real complaint is the lettering which is a bit too rough. Sometimes too many words are squeezed in to captions which are too small. The inconsistency does make the comic seen more personal which I like but it is sometimes hard to read.
That one small criticism aside though I thought Mid-Life was excellent. Joe Ollmann gave a unique perspective on a well-worn story and added enough personality to make me forget that the plot is quite familiar.