Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Love Led Zeppelin

Listed in "500 Essential Graphic Novels" as: Non-Fiction (Best of the Rest)
Contains: Various comics from Ellen Forney's career
Year: 1994-1996, 2004 (This volume published 2006)
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Writer: Ellen Forney (w/ various others)
Artist: Ellen Forney

Hello, readers.  I've actually gone back to check and this actually makes three nights in a row, not last night (for those of you keeping score or who care).

Anyway, let's not waste any time and we'll get right into I Love Led Zeppelin.

As I suspected (and as I mentioned last night), this book really had little to do with the band Led Zeppelin at all.  Sorry if you've come here wanting to read about them, but maybe stick around anyway, huh?  It'll be fun...

Actually, the only mention writer Ellen Forney makes to the band is in a hilarious strip called The Final Soundtrack, in which she discusses what would be the coolest music to have playing in your cracked up, bad-ass muscle car as you die after running it into a tree.  She also fears having certain other music play...  Really good.

However there are multitude other things in this slim, yet text filled volume.

The whole thing starts out with a series of "how-tos" on seemingly random subjects.  They actually look to be factually accurate and meticulously researched, though.  "How D'ya Sew an Amputated Finger Back On??", "Old Glory: How to Fold the Flag and Present it to the Next of Kin", and "How to Fuck a Woman with Your Hands!!" (not kidding) are all fact- and hilarity-laden, offering concrete safety, tact, and procedural tips.

These are followed by short, mostly one-page strips chronicling some of Ms. Forney's travels and experiences, various sex tips, and even a list of Seattle's erotic landmarks!

At the end, we see some of Forney's earlier, more lengthy strips as she collaborates with some folks and focuses on the artwork side of things.  There are stories of odd meetings that were supposed to be dates but never happened, various parties and sexual escapades of all sorts, and even lengthy discussions about the importance of your hairdo and the state of Courtney Love.

If you hadn't put it together already, this book focuses a lot on sex.  Sexual identity and orientation, gender roles, first times, erotic (and hilarious) photo shoots, forays funny and factual.  Forney takes an unabashed look at all things sex and many other things besides.  One or two of them are her own experiences left bare for all the world to see.  Some are collaborations with others and we get to see how sexy, triumphant, or awkward they felt.  Above all, this book is a celebration of all of the things you might come upon in life and emerging being yourself (no matter who likes it or doesn't) and being happy with that and proud of it.

Forney touches upon sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, survivalism, ettiquette, cooking, travel, humanities, dating, art, pop culture, parents... with truthfulness and, above all, fun.  These comics may be filled with facts about a wide variety of things and stories of real peoples' joys and longings, but Forney makes them hilarious and fun to read along most of the way.

Mr. Kannenberg had this volume categorized under the "Non-Fiction" category, and the strips are just enough like the real world experiences we've all had to be believably true, but I think this one would have worked under the "Humor" category just as well, having been easily the most laugh-getting book I've read in all my efforts here thus far.

Funny, sexy, smart (all words that introduction writer Sherman Alexie didn't wanna use when doing the intro, but why shy from cliche when it's true?), these comics are all that.  They feel real and you can easily discern that Forney and the other writers have experienced these things and come out to be awesome folks on the other side.  The book screams, "This is who we are, this is what we've seen, here's what we love." and we've got no choice but to become empowered, let our freak flags fly, and love life right along with them.

Mr. Kannenberg's rating: 4 out of 5
My rating: 3 out of 5
14 down, 486 to go

Be here next time as we move on to our third "Top 10" pick thus far: Leave it to Chance, Book One: Shaman's Rain. 

I hope you'll all be back and be well until then.


  1. You're doing a fantastic job in writing these reviews, in the aspect that you're opening up the book (without spoiling anything) and making it really easy for me to discern what I would and wouldn't like personally. After reading your reviews, I feel like I know whether or not a particular book would be for me or not and as for this one, I'd think not. Just doesn't seem like my cup of tea, but glad you mildly enjoyed it. Can't wait to read the next one and as I said before, I'm rationing off the rest, so that I always have some fresh material.

  2. That's cool, man. You read at whatever pace you'd like. I'm really grateful for your comments.

    Thanks so much for the kind words, as that's exactly one of the things I'm trying to do. I want the person who not into comics, the casual reader, and the fanatic alike to be able to here, read a review and be able to pick out things that might appeal to them without having them spoiled.

    And yeah, this one might not be your cup of tea. I gotta say that the books I've read so far that I think you'd enjoy the most might be "Blankets", "Identity Crisis", and maybe "Sshhhh!".

    Thanks again for visiting, bro. :)