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Review – The 120 Days of Simon


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120 Days of SimonI’m slowly getting into travel comics chronicling the tales of those who get to travel the world and explore places I’ll likely never see.  The 120 Days of Simon follows the real life travels of Simon Gärdenfors as he spends four months on the road.  There’s simple rules, he’s not allowed to return home for 120 days and can’t spend more than two nights in the same place.  The story is fascinating and brutally truthful, not always painting it’s writer and subject in the best light.

The 120 Days of Simon began when Swedish cartoonist/rapper Simon Gärdenfors left his home to spend four months on the road. The rules were simple: For 120 days he wasn’t allowed to return to his home, or to spend more than two nights at the same place. Otherwise, anything could happen… and it did.

This simple idea grew into an epic adventure across Sweden as Simon slept on strangers’ couches, visited an ostrich farm, ate a psychedelic cactus, practiced free love, received death threats, was beaten up by teenagers, got adopted by a motorcycle gang, drank obscene amounts of alcohol, and sacrificed his underpants to the Nordic god Brage. And that’s just for starters!

When this graphic novel was released in Sweden, it created a bit of a scandal. Some readers wanted to punch Simon in the face, while others hailed him as a hero. Top Shelf is proud to present this all-too-human journey to an English-speaking audience. … A graphic novel packaged in the style of a traditional pulp novel. — A 416-Page Graphic Novel packaged in the style of a traditional pulp novel, 4.25″ x 7″, Diamond: FEB10-1095

The first thing that struck me was how different between what’s acceptable in Sweden and what’s acceptable in the US.  There’s admissions of acts that could be crimes here, but I guess not that big of a deal in Sweden.

Gärdenfors comes off as rather self-centered and doesn’t really take responsibility for his actions.  Often dealing with the ramifications instead of thinking before he acts.  In the end though, no matter how much shit he causes it all seems to work out.  This drove me to generally dislike Gärdenfors.  And I guess having a reaction, especially one such as that, is impressive in the storytelling.

If you want a rather crazy tale, chronicling a interesting experiment/experience then this is the “travel journal” graphic novel for you.

Plot: Gärdenfors is a self-centered ass.  There’s acts here that are definitely illegal in the US, and overall he never actually has to work to solve any issues, they always seem to work out for him.  But, this is a pretty impressive experience and experiment.  He sticks to his plan, and pulls it off.  The story is entertaining and an absolutely fascinating read.  Rating: 8

Art: The art is pretty simplistic.  Nothing fancy here and the pages are generally made up of two panels.  This is about the narrative, not the art.  Rating: 7

Overall: The 120 Days of Simon is an interesting and unique graphic novel.  It’s the travels of an individual who I’ve never heard of in a country I’ve never been.  Through it’s simple art and story telling, I felt like I was introduced to a new culture and entertained at the same time.  A definitely fascinating graphic novel and worth the read.  Overall rating: 7.75

Recommendation: Read

Page count: 416 pages    Price: $14.95     Release: Out Now

Top Shelf provided Graphic Policy with an advance copy of this issue for FREE for review.