“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” is a story about Enn, a high school exchange student, and his charming friend Vic’s quest to hook up with some girls at a party. The story is told through the perspective of Enn, who has little experience in engaging with girls. His friend Vic reassures him that he should just try talking to them, because “girls aren’t from another planet”
The pair soon find out that these girls are in fact a species from another planet. This alien race of women died out long ago, but sent out copies (presumably) of their people to the universe to continue their legacy. Like many other elements in the novel, this process of continuation is never explained further than “it changes you”. Enn and Vic successfully pair up with women but run away at the end after Vic has a traumatic experience. Enn (an older man now, who is revealed to have been narrating from the future) concludes the novel saying that he too experienced something, “a poem that, try as I might, I could never properly remember and would never be able to repeat.”
The whole comic is painted with watercolors, which I feel fits the ethereal vibe of the story. We are never clued in to what happens or even if the story Enn tells is real, and the splotchy texture of the novel further instills confusion. Just like Enn’s story, nothing looks defined and we are left trying to put pieces together. What is interesting is that Enn’s vision of the extinction of the extraterrestrial race looks visually the same as other pages in the story. The repetition of green and subtle ink splashes throughout the comic creates the sense that we’ve seen this before-we’ve been seeing this since Enn first walked through the door.
Enn’s time in the house is characterized by his conversations with 4 different women in the house, conversations which are tied to his return to the main room or “dance floor”. We experience a visual transition from each of these meetings in the form of a pink sash written the onomatopoeia “tum” on it.
This is used to represent the music that is playing on the dance floor. Enn finds himself constantly drawn to this area where he sees pairs go from standing at opposite ends of the room to holding each other in their arms. Enn laments a typical “everyone’s got someone but me”, but we are soon shown that this twirling pink sash actually represents a pheromone which is tying the groups together. He even becomes “tangled up”, but is then freed by Vic, cue-ing the end of the novel.
I enjoy reading the works of Neil Gaiman (one of which “Sandman” I have used as an example in this class), and “How to Talk to Girls” did not disappoint. After reading, I find myself in the same confusion as our protagonist, which, although frustrating, was a flawless execution of storytelling. At the end, we find ourselves in the same situation as Enn; Understanding that we don’t know what happened, and never may no matter how many times we analyze the events.