How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a graphic adaptation of a short story of the same name, published ten years back in Neil Gaiman’s short story collection Fragile Things. In this regard it is sort-of part of a sort-of series of short stories of his, written by him as prose, and later adapted by himself or others as short hardcover graphic novelettes published by Dark Horse Books, which thus far includes Creatures of the Night, The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch, Harlequin Valentine, Murder Mysteries and, to a lesser extent, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains. And The Graveyard Book and Coraline, I suppose, although they’re longer works, so not quite the same thing.
The handy thing about these, all of which I have on the shelves here behind me, is that, along with having a decent story in them – because Neil Gaiman couldn’t write a poor story even if he tried really hard – they usually have wonderful art in them, as they’re all done by people like P Craig Russell, John Bolton, and Michael Zulli. If you haven’t heard of any of these, then drop everything, and go look them up. Especially that P Craig Russell, who is an art god.
But what about this one? And who are Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá? They are, despite appearances to the contrary, twin brothers from São Paulo in Brazil, who I first came across in their collection DE:Tales – Stories from Urban Brazil, published in 2006, and who have popped up here and there throughout American comics in the decade since, usually on titles that I’m not actually reading. So I was quite curious to see what they looked like, ten years later.
Briefly, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is about the young narrator Enn – who’s nearly sixteen – getting dragged along to a party by his more handsome and apparently more worldly-wise friend Vic. They find, rather than the party they were looking for, a different one, which is in a house full of beautiful girls, dancing to music Enn doesn’t recognise. And, because this is Neil Gaiman, you just know that those beautiful girls are going to turn out to be goddesses, or planets made flesh, or aliens in disguise, or something of that kind. And they are indeed, something of that kind. To say more would be to spoil the story, although if you’re really anxious to know, you can read the original short story here. But suffice to say that I liked it, and liked the adaptation of it presented here.
I am also happy to say that the Moon & Bá twins have indeed matured nicely, and this slim slip of a book will be resting on the shelf along with its sort-of series companions. Maybe Dark Horse could do a nice deluxe collected volume of them all…?
How to Talk to Girls at Parties is available from all the usual online places, but you should really check your Local Comic Shop first, if you can.
Title: How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Author: Neil Gaiman
Adapted & Illustrated by: Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
Publisher: Headline (UK) / Dark Horse Books (US)
Date of Publication: 5 July 2016
Page count: 64 pages, Hardcover
Price: £12.95 / $17.99
Reviewed by: Pádraig Ó Méalóid