There are three slice-of-life books that I’ve truly enjoyed over the years.
Strangers in Paradise is amongst my favorite ever. Admittedly it is only a slice-of-life book sometimes as it can deal with espionage, high priced call girls, plane crashes, spies, guns………..but at its core it really is about two friends, one who is in love with the other. There is probably no book I can recommend higher.
The second is Box Office Poison – Alex Robinson’s opus about love, loss, and friendship. It was quite an amazing tale as you followed Sherman (a clerk who hates his job), Ed (a hapless yet lovable cartoonist trying to make it in the industry), and a slew of amazing characters. There wasn’t much espionage, high priced call girls, or plane crashes in Box Office Poison but it just told a magnificent story of just a few people living in New York City.
Pleasant Life is the third such slice-of-life book and one that most haven’t ever heard about. Originally called Pleasant Hymns (a name I dislike, I’m glad the book was renamed) it follows two college roommates named Lucas and Mortin as they navigate life during their final days as students. I originally reviewed some of the Pleasant Life graphic novels way back in my Newsarama days but, like all of the content I wrote there, it’s gone (except for what I physically printed or is archived at other sites).
Lucas is the average guy having average girl problems in college. He likes one girl but when she goes to travel internationally he finds himself wondering where his life goes from there. The problem for him is there is a steady stream of cute and interesting women who come his way.
Mortin is an overweight Star Trek geek who is obsessed with porn. He’s a D&D enthusiast so, of course, he’s not bringing in the ladies. Mocked most of his life he finds solace at college – especially when he find his geeky girlfriend Kelly. She digs him, she digs his geekiness, and, luckily for Mortin, she feeds right into his fantasies.
There is also a character named Ted Gross who works security for the local casino. He’s friends with the group but his adventures usually stand alone. He also likes to kick the asses of unruly casino patrons so it’s his perfect job. Always assholes to beat up there.
There’s parties. There’s strip clubs. There’s a trip to Vegas for the characters to go to a porn set where it is better seen then told. Admittedly it all sounds like some of the times I had in college. No there was no trip to a porn shoot for me but we all had some rather interesting times that made college memorable.
What do I love about this book? I love the character of Mortin. The dude is so geeky and is so unapologetic about it. He owns what he loves whether that is D&D, Star Trek, or his absolute love of porn. I always wonder what modern Mortin thinks about porn being right at his fingertips on his cell phone. As a kid who was pretty much a dork himself (I remember wearing Batman t-shirts everyday in middle school when that movie was coming out) I can see a bit of myself in Mortin. I grew out of it slightly as I made my way to high school then college, but came back around to the geeky shit in my later years. Lord knows I’ll always be right there for a new Star Wars movie.
I also see a bit of myself in Lucas as well. College life could be weird for me. I could be single and there would be a long dry spell. Then I meet someone and then there would be something like four great women at one time. And if I had a girlfriend? They seemed to just come out of the woodwork. It seems the same for Lucas – he just wants to be with the woman who can make him happy but, as life goes, things can always get too complicated for their own good.
The Ted sections of the books are the ones I like the least and yet find the most interesting. Most of these scenes with Ted at the casino kicking ass seem to come out of left field. He is part of Mortin’s motley crew (and has been Lucas’ friend since high school) so I can see why his adventures are here. But as a slice-of-life about some seniors it can sometimes stop the movement of the book. Luckily these adventures can also be entertaining and also throw some action into the book.
I’ll tell you what – there is one D&D sequence in this book that is hilarious and is probably my favorite part of the entire series.
While Box Office Poison and Strangers in Paradise are known on a national (and perhaps international) level – Pleasant Life isn’t so lucky. Which is a shame. It is a book that deserves to be read. To those who know it, they love it. The book sold out wherever it was sold – but you couldn’t find it in bookstores everywhere.
The book has some amazing extras. There is the original high school story that basically started it all for Adam. As some characters are based on actual friends there is an entire section about which friend corresponds to which character and how they were adapted (which I thought exceptional). There’s layouts, pinups, and even a bonus story drawn just for the collection.
The entire collection is now available at Adam’s website Idiothead.com – along many of his other works. Adam is probably more known these days for his superhero erotica series Starslam which goes over HUGE with those who love the combo of sex and superheroes. But I’ll always fondly remember him for Pleasant Life. We actually many years ago worked on a project together! But I’ll save that story for another time.
Last year Adam reported a sequel graphic novel to Pleasant Life would be coming. That should be here late 2017 so I am very excited. Will it be a continuation from where the characters left of with their life right after college? Or will we meet up with the characters and what they are doing 10+ years later? I have no clue – but I’m excited that Lucas and Mortin will have a few more adventures under their belts.
Check out Adam’s site at: http://www.idiothead.com.