Friday, 9 October 2015

Self-Obsessed by Sina Grace Review

I guess everyone thinks their life is fascinating enough to warrant a book or memoir even though they often aren’t; the same goes for Sina Grace whose new book, Self-Obsessed, is a collection of odds and ends about him, none of which are remotely interesting. 

Jumping to his final essay, Grace rambles about/gives his excuses for how this book came about: his Image comic, Burn the Orphanage, got cancelled and his grandmother died which led him into a personal tailspin. Uh, ok. So what is Self-Obsessed? A chronological look at Grace’s comics from a young age to the present and how he, sort of, comes to like himself… I think. In actuality it’s a glob of nonsense! 

There’s no rhyme or reason to the structure. There’s a comic about him wanting to be a comics artist followed by a review of a Shakira concert, followed by a comic about meeting his Li’l Depressed Boy collaborator, followed by black and white photos of him shopping, followed by an essay on why he likes the Lizzie McGuire movie, then a comic about the sort of men he’s attracted to (big hairy men aka “bears”), followed by a comic about why he hates Christmas (while experimenting with lettering his comics with a word processor – not a good idea). 

The whole book is like that. Here’s another short comic about having daddy issues and being gay! Here are more black and white photos of the author looking emo! Here’s a random drawing of Lady Gaga! Here’s a random drawing of the author as Tinkerbell! Here’s another throwaway essay/interview with another hipster douche! 

Those essays really are the worst. One essay gives advice to people who quit their jobs – his advice? Cut down on spending, work a lot, and, hey, you could always move back in with your mom. It may be obvious (as well as useless to anyone whose parents are dead or if you’re not on good terms with them) but not nearly as loathsome as another essay which is literally about congratulating himself for no longer buying expensive rewards whenever he completes a piece of work! 

My question is: why publish this mess of miscellanea? If it was done to help him work through some issues, fine, but why foist it on the public – shouldn’t their very existence in supposedly helping him out be enough? What does he gain from publicising his inane “struggles”? 

At the end of the day, Sina Grace’s life hasn’t been compelling in the least – so far anyway, he’s still very young. He dated girls in high school before realising he was gay – ordinary stuff. He put out a mediocre comic (Burn the Orphanage) and an utterly shite one (Li’l Depressed Boy) but neither are especially worth tracking down. And that’s it. 29 year-old Grace is indicative of the generation who grew up around social media who overshare and make far too much of too little. The difference is that Grace has the connections to publish his insubstantial fluff. 

Autobiographical comics can be very good; Sina Grace’s Self-Obsessed isn’t. It’s full of dreary anecdotes and half-baked observations presented in a style of vapid, preening narcissism. Truly horrible reading – I’ll be avoiding anything with Sina Grace’s name on the cover from now on!


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