Often feel trapped in your quirky, self-loathing thoughts? Do you find Siri mocks your life unprovoked? Well look no further; you’re not alone.

HELLBOUND LIFESTYLE, published by Retrofit Comics, will make you giggle with Kaeleigh Forsyth’s writing and Alabaster Pizzo’s illustrations. The text actually comes from Forsyth’s private notes and journals, as she tries to traverse 2015.  It builds through tiny daily journeys and moments that often depict the main character, Forsyth, as an intelligent, self-aware, and relatable female Mr. Bean. That comparison may be a bit of a stretch, but her fantasies coupled with her observations show how outlandish the mind can get.

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The 76-page graphic novel deals with aspects of life that prove challenging for lots of twentysomethings: a wacky roommate, dating, daydreaming, and just trying to survive work and a social life (or the lack there of). It’s quite poignant. The reader has an invitation into a person’s thoughts that are usually hidden from the public, and through this doorway lies a mildly depressed woman. She’s very contemplative and lots of unfortunate things are happening in her life.  Whether it be an unfulfilling career, dreadful dating options, or simply overthinking the lack of attention a social media post is getting, sometimes the mind works in overdrive going from once logical to overheating and becoming irrational. Daydreams add to this, as well as self-doubt and stress. HELLBOUND LIFESTYLE mocks these thoughts with quirky interpretations and relatability. The pure openness captures the reader, and it underscores the nutty side of life.  Sometimes the self-inflicted drama we create can be dangerous, but also when we think back on it, those moments become funny. This book is proof we can shake it off, mock it, and laugh at its outrageousness. That’s the power of this book. It evaluates daily problems and puts them in context with humor and realism.

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Life and the inner monologue can be wacky, and it makes it all the funnier. The picture of yoga below represents this quite well. As everyone excels, she lays flat. Days from hell, or general incompetence and awkward behavior, are going to happen. HELLBOUND LIFESTYLE doesn’t hide from those embarrassing moments, it embraces them . The self-deprecating notes throughout the book keep the character honest with light digs at society, men, and herself. An amazing thing about the book is how often it refers to crying. In all its silly manifestations, it’s important because it’s a key release for people, and men, in particular, should be more open about it. Crying is natural; as hard as people try to avoid it,  keeping all that emotion does no one good. Tears often evoke weakness, but for me they help me express pain. It makes it easier to move on.

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The art fits the quirky daily retrospective vignettes, too. The noodley characters are unpretentious and clean, yet I like how Pizzo represents them in every color. Barack and Michelle Obama have a cameo, and they’re blue. It’s fun; there’s nothing wrong with simplicity. In fact, this book warrants it, in structure and layout. The daily notes acquire a subtle approach. The quirky written material needs that same aesthetic. The simplicity doesn’t mean it’s not experimental either. Pages range from a semi-typical comic layout to a page full of brightly colored drawing to a simple screenshot of a text message.

hellbound yoga

When it comes down to it, HELLBOUND LIFESTYLE is a must-read. The comic is for anyone looking for a humorous, relatable account of life. Non-comic people or non-lizard people will be able to relate to the minutia of everyday struggles, as the giggles flow like a newborn baby with bubbles. Forsyth and Pizzo do a tremendous job of creating a world of open thoughts and representing them in all their quirky splendor.

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