These last few years, nostalgia has been getting a bad reputation. The constant flooding of content looking to exploit people’s childhood and happy memories for a cheap buck has made it hard to enjoy stories set in the recent past that can connect with people through shared memories of the good things of times gone by. But despite this recent perception, nostalgia can actually be a good thing, especially when it comes from sincere works of art. Such is the case of Super Trash Clan.
Super Trash Clan is a new graphic novel written and drawn by Edgar Camacho, translated by Eva Ibarzabal, and published by IDW, that tells the story of Dul, a woman who finds a video game of her past that makes her remember her childhood days. The story is pretty simple and takes place in the span of just a couple of days, but every single page is worth it.
Camacho does a wonderful job of creating some relatable characters and situations. The way he presents the story makes even the most mundane childhood moments feel exciting and profound. There are a lot of video game references sprinkled in that will make any gamer’s eyes glow with recognition, and that aren’t there just for the sake of referencing stuff but to actually give us some insight into the characters’ state of mind. There is a reference to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time that does this especially well, serving as one of the book’s strongest emotional moments.
The art itself is amazing, and I can not stop thinking about how good the page layouts are. Every panel, and the way they are arranged on the page, make for great story pacing and action flow. There are a couple of pages composed of three panels that are some of the best representations of traveling long distances I have seen in comics. Furthermore, the character design and the facial expressions make each character interesting, in addition to giving rise to some pretty funny moments. There is also some great use of color, which creates the perfect atmosphere for each scene.
All that being said, the strongest aspect of this comic is definitely its emotional core. As I mentioned in the beginning, nostalgia is nowadays seen as bad, but there is something beautiful about longing for days gone by. This story remind us to appreciate the small things of our past, the small moments that formed the person we are today. What makes this book so good is that it feels incredibly earnest, giving us a glimpse of a past that, while not all good, gave place to the people we are today.
As a mexican reader, there were some references to things of my childhood that made me happy (I literally smiled at a fifty cent coin) and, more importantly, made me connect more with its main character and her situation. Nostalgia based stories work really well when they are not trying to exploit the audience through a fake pleasant feeling but instead are trying to truly connect with its readers (or watchers, listeners etc.). At its core Super Trash Clan is a story about love, growth and appreciating the small details in life, and I love it for that.
This is what all good nostalgic slice of life and coming of age stories should be. Not a formulaic story full of cheap emotional shots and irrelevant references, but honest tales just trying to share beautiful moments of reminiscing with its audience.