cover image The Fun Family

The Fun Family

Benjamin Frisch. IDW/Top Shelf, $24.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-60309-344-6

Drawing equal parts inspiration from Bill Keane’s saccharine daily Family Circus strip and Alison Bechdel’s groundbreaking autobiographical work, Frisch’s debut graphic novel is a surreal exploration of the fractured suburban family, worthy of a Sam Mendes directorial turn. Things start out idyllic enough, inside a round panel with a single caption, à la the Family Circus, but when a phone call reveals the death of a beloved grandmother, everything the Fun family believes in gets questioned. Dad Robert Fun is a cartoonist, drawing cartoons that look as plastic as the memorabilia collection he keeps in his crawl space; son Robby must navigate marital squabbles, family counseling, and a self-help guru as the family fractures. Frisch’s cutesy art is purposely played against the angsty goings-on, a conceit that wears a bit thin. However, the story spins out in a satisfying fashion, revealing that nothing is ever quite as fun as it seems. (June)