The Dumbest Idea Ever!

Dammit – The Dumbest Idea Ever made me cry. For real. I guess that’s what happens when you read a memoir by someone who’s the same age, started making comics at the same age when you were obsessed with comics, and is making a living as a successful comic creator.

Basically someone living the life I want and wish I had. Which is to say that his memoir – his origin story – is really good and relatable.

The Dumbest Idea Ever panel

You don’t have to be me to relate to it, though having grown up in the 80s would help. Or having gone to Catholic school. Or having gone to school in general. Or having gone from being Good At School to rejecting external validation. Or someone who remembers walking into a local comic book shop for the first time. Or someone whose first creative ideas were derivative. Or someone who’s daunted when undertaking a creative project. Or someone who remembers the awkwardness of first romances. Or someone who did a major high school project on comics.

Jimmy Gownley learns about Cerebus
For me, the rock stars were Eastman & Laird because mass-market toys and a cartoon were undeniable proof of having Made It.

(I admit, that last one is oddly specific.)

If you’re me, this book is the perfect storm of relatability (combined with wishing that my life had gone similarly).  For everyone, else it’s a damn fine memoir. It’s personal. It’s easy to relate to his triumphs and his struggles – and be entertained and moved in the process.

Jimmy’s art is just right for the book. It’s a simple style that is relatable (translation: I feel like I can draw like him, unlike some crazy technically good artists who seem impossible to emulate)(also, he covered that in the book too!), with creative panels and judicious use of colors and textures. It reminds me of the kid-friendly graphic novel style of Raina Telgemeier and other similar artists. It just feels right.

All in all, I loved The Dumbest Idea Ever and you might too (even if you’re not me). I ordered the first book in his award-winning Amelia Rules series from the library too (libraries are the BEST) to see how that is. What seemed like the dumbest idea certainly played right into his strengths as a storyteller.

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