Writer & Artist: Jess Fink
Publisher: Top Shelf
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Jess Fink’s previous Top Shelf work, Chester 5000XYV, was a high point in robo-erotic graphic fiction and, more than that, a demonstration of its author’s visual storytelling abilities. Told without words, Chester worked its way through a story of sexual liberation and match-making with assurance and finesse. We Can Fix It! holds a lot of promise as a follow-up, with a snazzy 6-color cover (metallic ink! spot gloss!) and a neatly-printed little package that includes a rounded lower right-hand corner. Plus: it’s about time travel, which pushes major nerd buttons in the best possible way and seems to be undergoing a renaissance as a movie theme, despite the many narrative issues it raises. Fink ignores those quandaries completely, designing her time machine as more of a TARDIS that can nimbly hop through space as well as eras. (The vessel also has a snazzy Back to the Future poster on the wall). Chrono-problems with meeting yourself while time traveling? Not here.
The whole premise of We Can Fix It! is that our protagonist, who is also our author, tries to fix a number of her past errors, which range from buying ugly pants to hooking up with the wrong guy(s) and swallowing a quarter. These tasks necessitate Fink to not only encounter her past self, but also reveal her identity, start arguments, reshape history and, um, indulge in some self-loving, i.e., make out with her former self. There’s something pleasantly freewheeling about this lack of concern for setting up stringent rules, but it’s also a little symptomatic of the book’s problems. Fink’s art, so capable of serious polish, reads more like storyboards here, rendered in sketchy black and white that reads as unfinished. The story, although it institutes its outlines in a similar fashion, needs more meat on its bones. Maybe it’s too autobiographical. Or maybe it’s that Fink’s extended journey through the good times of her adolescence can make the reader tune out (someone else’s funny work stories can be like someone else’s dreams—you had to be there). The book has plenty of nice moments. It just seems like, given more time, it could have been something more than it is.