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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beautiful Boy and the Big Black Sad Kangaroo
Over the course of a long dull summer holiday, sullen and withdrawn 15 year old Daniel Bagnold begins to find a place for himself in a scary world. His depressed middle-aged mum Sue, through her attempts to understand and help her lonely son, starts to come to terms with her own unhappy adolescence and failed marriage. Both Bagnolds forge some unexpected new friendships...
Published 21 months ago by LadyOfQuality

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Sue!
I feel like I have to qualify this review because the rating does not reflect the book's quality but my own reaction to it.

I'm a 28 year old man who has read hundreds, if not thousands, of comics and my tastes are wide ranging from manga and anime to DC and Marvel to indie comics from Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Image, Dark Horse, and...
Published 15 months ago by Noel


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beautiful Boy and the Big Black Sad Kangaroo, 17 July 2012
By 
This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
Over the course of a long dull summer holiday, sullen and withdrawn 15 year old Daniel Bagnold begins to find a place for himself in a scary world. His depressed middle-aged mum Sue, through her attempts to understand and help her lonely son, starts to come to terms with her own unhappy adolescence and failed marriage. Both Bagnolds forge some unexpected new friendships and alliances along the way.

This little graphic novel has just been shortlisted for a 2012 Costa Book Award. It is written and drawn with sophisticated and understated humour, remarkable observational skills and packs in places a subtle emotional punch. Joff Winterhart presents his characters - adolescent lads and their quietly desperate mums - with great sensitivity and perception.

I bought this book during a particularly grim shoe-shopping expedition with my 15 year old son (please read the book to get the joke!) and it had both of us howling with laughter and recognition during a much needed coffee break. The relationships between Daniel and his best friend - the sublimely self-confident and repellent Ky - and Ky's irritatingly bonkers New Age mum (whom we discover to be also caring and shrewd) are particularly well observed.

But after finishing this story alone later on, I found myself crying over a book for the first time in 20 years. These snapshots of a middle-aged mother/teenage-son relationship capture the joys and heartbreak of being a single parent, the agonies and ecstasies of misunderstood teen-dom, and are reminiscent of Posy Simmonds at her very best.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You For The Days., 23 Sep 2012
By 
Tamara L (North West England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
At last, a graphic novel for middle-aged women. Don't worry, It's just as relevant for a younger readership. The book offers a poignant, hilarious, and subtle observation of the relationship between a mother and son. A day-by-day account of a long summer holiday during the uncommunicative teenage years. It will strike a particular chord for any parent of a heavy metal-loving non-sporty child, but the emotions are universal. It reminded me of one of my own sons at that age (also a Metallica fan) and I will definitely be sending him his own copy. My partner has read it and he loved it too. On the surface it's a quick and easy read, but there's a wealth of detail that is richly rewarding if you pay close attention. I have left it on the coffee table so I can keep picking it up and revisiting it. The characters are well drawn - in every sense. Daniel's hunched figure and his long lank hair that doubles as a defence to hide behind, Sue's large glasses and wistful expression as she catches occasional reminders of the warm and easy relationship she once had with her beautiful boy, now turned into a black-clad remote and sarcastic stranger who is embarassed to be seen in public with her. You hardly know whether to laugh or cry at some of the dialogue:
Sue, 'You know, we did once used to have quite a nice time together...'
Daniel, 'Yeah, but that was before you got really annoying.'
Sue, silently watches Daniel, contemplating some resemblance to her absent father.
Daniel, not even looking up, 'Okay, stop looking at me now.'
At times he is merciless, and Sue, who has her own baggage, is often reduced to tears, but there are flashes of warmth between them that let you know that Daniel is no monster, just a boy finding his way through a difficult time, and slowly moving towards the maturity to relate to his mother as a fellow human being. The other main characters, Ky and his New Age mother are also familiar and well-depicted.
So five stars from me and many more if I'd had them to bestow. Warm, funny, sly, moving, authentic and sharply observed. Wonderful. Can't praise it enough.
Ps. Update: I did buy one for my son and he reported back that he caused a bit of a stir by laughing out loud on the bus while reading it. He said it was the funniest thing he had read in ages, so that's a recommendation from two generations of this family.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate observation of adolescence, 5 July 2012
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This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
I picked up this book on the strength of a good review on the Guardian website. The book didn't disappoint - it is extremely well and honestly observed and drawn, and really captures the difficult age that is adolescence - from the perspective of teenager and parent alike.

It is a quick, compelling read, at turns, both touching and funny. In comparison to the recollection of adolescence in well-known graphic novels such as Craig Thompson's Blankets or Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, Days of the Bagnold Summer is much smaller in scale, and less plot-driven - in terms of form, it is really a series of short, pithy tableaux (and it doesn't appear either to aspire to the status of memoir). It is tribute to Winterhart's talent though, that the book as a whole is just as involving as the two mentioned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Sue!, 4 Jan 2013
By 
Noel - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
I feel like I have to qualify this review because the rating does not reflect the book's quality but my own reaction to it.

I'm a 28 year old man who has read hundreds, if not thousands, of comics and my tastes are wide ranging from manga and anime to DC and Marvel to indie comics from Drawn & Quarterly, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Image, Dark Horse, and everything in between. So please don't think I'm marking this down because there isn't a masked vigilante with a cape as the protagonist. But I think this is a comic book for middle aged and older mothers who probably don't read many comics.

"Days of the Bagnold Summer" is the story of six weeks in the summer which Sue, a 52 year old single mother who works as a librarian, and her 15 year old metalhead son Daniel spend together. It's a subtle story told in 6 panel per page vignettes that comprise an accurate and moving portrait of the kind of relationship middle aged mothers and teenage sons have. The book reminded me of when I was a teenager (though I wasn't into metal nor did I wear a hoody) and Daniel's behaviour toward Sue was, at least in part, familiar. It's observations are spot on and the book overall is a true slice of life.

But...!

Oh GOD it's soooooo DEPRESSING! Joff Winterhart really went all out to make Sue's life so miserable! She's 52 but looks older and she really hasn't aged well. She was never a beauty but at 52... phew. And she wears massive sweaters and giant glasses... I can already feel female readers turning on me as I write! She's alone with her son, reminiscing of the times when he was younger and they had a more amiable and communicative relationship but now, he's distant. Her husband left her for a younger, more attractive woman. She doesn't have a significant other. She doesn't have friends. She doesn't have a fulfilling job. She's alone. ALONE!

At this point I thought, enough! please, Joff Winterhart, give this poor woman something, anything, good! But he keeps going, delving into her youth and giving her an abusive alcoholic stepfather, a boyfriend who went on to kill himself, friends who used her, and a tremulous marriage to a shallow man. The only good thing in her life is her son who doesn't want to know her.

This book is ridiculously sad and maudlin. Poor Sue, no wonder she's depressed! Reading this, I was beginning to feel that way too, and then when their dog dies and Sue can't stop crying I was actively looking for my noose! It became so overwhelmingly sad that I actually began to think Winterhart was going for a comic book version of a Thomas Hardy novel. Have you read "Jude the Obscure"? That scene where the son murders his siblings and then hangs himself is rightfully hilarious because it's just so over the top. Or maybe my mind just snapped at that point. Either way "Bagnold Summer" isn't quite that but it is gloomy under a seriously mean cloud.

Even in the more benign scenes like when Sue's listening to the radio in her car, singing along to '70s song, eating a toffee, the scene ends with her pulling out a filling! She just can't catch a break! You're a cruel man, Winterhart. I don't know why other reviewers have said this book is hilarious, they must all be sadistic and/or like me retreated to crazyland to survive the rest of the book.

Believe me when I say I enjoy gloomy books and that I don't prefer books to have happy endings, just true ones. Some of my favourite novels have downright miserable finales like Orwell's "1984", Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath", Fitzgerald's "Great Gatsby" and the aforementioned Thomas Hardy. But I think what made it worse was that Sue is a doomed character who doesn't deserve her fate but she's still never going to be happy. The one good thing in her life, Daniel, is going to leave school soon, leave her, and probably visit her a couple times a year. And that's Sue's lot. She runs down the clock working in the library, and then dies. It's just too sad, too hopeless. I desperately wanted Winterhart to give Sue something positive that wasn't connected to her son but he doesn't. Tough luck, Sue.

This is a fine comic, in fact I'm glad it was nominated for the Costa Award, it's good to see well crafted indie comics breaking through into the mainstream, and for the artistry in this book, it's well worth the maximum rating. But I can't give it because I struggled to read it. It's too miserable, too sad, and I was glad when I put it down because I didn't have to spend time in Sue's grey world anymore. Good news though if you're a middle aged mum, there's a comic written just for you that understands what it's like to raise a teenage son! Everyone else... just be good to each other, ok? Things aren't that bad.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great present for anyone with a teenager, 3 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
funny, beautifully drawn, gentle but spot-on humour. I bought this for a friend who was in despair at the behaviour of her teenage son - it cheered her up.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Cliched, 30 Nov 2013
This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
The book cliches middle aged women as uninteresting frumps. I am middle aged, but I don't have kids (phew, not all middled aged women want them). It further stereotyped librarians as boring and frumpy. Now the librarians I meet are anything but boring and dull, and even librarians have a sense of humour. It also showed the mother to be some kind of doormat with no interests and completely wallowing in her child, surely that's something out of the 1950s. The story was an interesting take on family life however, and I liked the drawings.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bought for son, read by me, 14 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
A touching tale for any mother of a teenage boy. A couple of scenes could have been lifted from my home, and several poignant observations about teenage boys that many will recognise. A book likely to appeal more to parents that your lumpy child however!
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a great story., 14 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
Written with real insight into the attitudes of a single Mum and a reluctant youth. This was up against Hilary Mantel for the Costa prize and although totally different I can see why it was entered in the novel section. On top of that you get Joff's very witty drawings. I can see why it took him over two years to write and draw. For a first book it's a real triumph and I can't wait for the next.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Moving., 28 Jun 2013
This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
This isn't my traditional comic book fare but I loved it. Superheros and comic book violence were the traditional main draws to the medium for all of us comic book fans. But true-life, ordinary tales have grown and grown in the medium and often they surpass the traditional fare. The tiny works by Jeff Brown that are anything but tiny in scope and meaning for instance - and this book reminded me of those.

Sue and Daniel are mother and son. Daniel is 15 and still at school. The summer holidays start and Daniel is due to go off to Florida to spend time with his father and his new, younger pregnant wife. Then the trip is cancelled leaving Daniel isolated, rejected, dejected and feeling unwanted. Sue and Daniel have to spend the summer together, they have to come back to each other as they have become so distant, distant in the way that middle-aged mothers and teenage sons can become.

Winterhart shows us the sorrow, the sadness, the boredom and the small, minute moments when two people remember how much they mean to each other. It's like little echoes of who they used to be, what they used to mean to each other pop to the surface for the briefest time - and an accord is reached.

I think I found this particularly touching as I know that as much as I am close to my beautiful sons, one day they won't sit on my knee and look at me a if I am their world. One day we will pass like ships, those hallway meetings will be fleeting and I'll look at them and wonder who they are and where they went to.

A beautiful book and a well-deserved nominee for the Costa Novel Award in 2012.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful!, 18 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Days of the Bagnold Summer (Paperback)
This is the most moving graphic novel I think I have read (and I love graphic novels) Joff Winterhart has a unique voice and style where through his perspective the humdrum becomes captivating. The anti-hollywood concept of wasting a Summer and the little unspoken moments on show will stay with me...
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Days of the Bagnold Summer
Days of the Bagnold Summer by Joff Winterhart (Paperback - 21 Jun 2012)
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