Have you ever found yourself wanting to escape reality and live among the pages of your sketchbook? Have you ever coped with the many hardships of this life by creating a fictional entanglement of your own? Kevin Minor creates one such depiction in the Schiffer publication, Mega Awesome Notebook. This graphic rendition of the creative coping trait immediately grabs the attention of its reader without letting go or slowing down. It’s a sobering read, one that caresses the self-deprecating tendencies in those of us who find solace in a manufactured creative isolation. Not only does Mega Awesome Notebook exist as solidarity for us looking to protect our self, but it also teaches us to look outward while we are dedicated to the creativity found as we are looking inward.
Our story begins as a high schooler rushes to begin their day, and in doing so they ignite a phenomenon where the molecular alignment of their own self is spontaneously matched with that of their notebook; the two are now one. This rather silly and otherworldly origin story serves no purpose but to loosely explain what happens next and throughout. Truthfully, the time spent in explaining the origin is not needed as the innocence of the book’s imagination takes over and transcends the need for an explanation of why. I say this not to minimize the earliest pages of the story, but instead to congratulate the rest of the book with its hypnotic existence as it takes readers on a journey of self-discovery through the magically transformative realism during the creative process of the imagination.
The self-proclaimed mega-awesome notebook (which coincidently is also the book’s title) gives us a preconceived expectation that it should be nothing less, and for good reason. This softcover graphic novel looks, feels, and reads as if it actually were the referenced notebook companion of the character that this story is focused around. Graphics on its cover make it impossible to overlook. The spiralbound edge, the hand-drawn lettering, and the doodling give it the necessary dressings to make it feel this way. Look inside and the trend continues. A few manila pocket dividers and the wide-ruled pages pave the way for a story experience like no other-- truly taking on the notebook embodiment of a member in the story’s supporting cast. Mega Awesome Notebook quickly becomes a narrative between the creator and the created, and I was totally there for it.
Page after page the story continues building on the conversation between a creator and the created as told forefront of a backdrop of the wide-ruled pages in this notebook. The simple narrative that begins this unlikely relationship slowly develops into a fantasy knowing no boundaries; a parameter where only one’s imagination knows the limit. The space that now consumes the entirety of our lead character now lies solely upon the pages of his notebook—and those pages begin to take on a level of life exponential to that of each previous page. Story becomes a cleverly disguised conversation with self. I had a great deal of enjoyment reading the quips and jabs coming from the simple sketch given life through the illustrated pencil held by our lead character doing everything within his power to escape his reality and find some sort of relevance left forgotten in the dusty corners of his mind. Not until the final pages of this story do we truly recognize what the reason for this book’s existence is. At face value, it may look or feel like a cute gimmick, but I assure you there is much more to take from it if you keep at it until the end. Even if the self-discovery at the end of Mega Awesome Notebook finds you as being fairly predictable, it does not diminish the idea that it is true, and Kevin Minor built a unique and sturdy ship to deliver this relevant and absolutely necessary message. A message that encourages the creative process, but while also warning of the destructive effects of isolation through an onset of dissociative behaviors.
If you find yourself getting lost in a specific emotion not knowing or even recognizing it being a problem, then I find it pretty necessary to read this book. It’s a simple story of a simple issue that …simply gets overlooked. As easy as it is to utilize our passions and our hobbies to cope with problems that surround us, it is arguably far more simple to dress ourselves in those things in order to numb us from the world outside of our immediate control. The very act of self-preservation, of self-care, and of self-protection can quickly escalate into a vortex that consumes us into a vacuum of existence void of any reason to belong. Sure, have the creative outlet that flows in us all …but, let us not live so fervently in that fictitious world so that we forget to live in the one where we already are.
MEGA Awesome notebook
by Kevin Minor
published by Schiffer Books
(available now at retailers and direct from the publisher)