Have you ever read anything from WEBTOON? WEBTOON is a website, home to thousands of diverse comics, manga, webcomics, and more. Some years ago, I was introduced to this website and have been reading a couple comics steadily. One of my favorites in Everything is Fine by Mike Birchall. Imagine my joy when I discovered that Mike Birchall had made this comic into a print book: Everything is Fine: Volume One. I was able to check it out from the library and reread part of this webcomic again, but in print!
“I want you to know, Tom. Even through that mask… I saw it on your face. We’re all in the same boat here, but that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it. Like you do.” – Mike Birchall, Everything is Fine: Volume One
Everything is Fine: Volume One is a horror dystopian graphic novel definitely not for the faint of heart (or for a younger audience). Sam and Maggie are perfectly normal. They live in a perfectly normal neighborhood, have a perfectly normal relationship, and have a perfectly normal dog named Winston. The houses all look the same; the people all look and sound the same. Everything is fine in their world.
Look at them for a bit longer and the facade starts to crack. Sam and Maggie have been struggling for a while. Winston is dead. Their idyllic suburban life is monitored by outside surveillance cameras and red eyes pop to life in their heads sometimes. They and their neighbors question every decision, yet also are disconnected from the world. Emotions are pushed to the side, leading to serious repression that puts Maggie on the brink of lashing out. Something very sinister lurks beneath the surface of every interaction. One wrong move could disrupt the delicate balance they live in.
This is a strangely manipulative and creepy book that lives to make you uncomfortable. The pacing may seem measured, but that’s because the themes are heavy, the plot is tense, and the story is a slow burn. Readers are left wondering what is actually happening as an eerie weirdness permeates. Despite the title, everything is not fine. The people are too nice, the jokes aren’t that funny despite their hard laughter, and an undercurrent of ‘not-rightness’ runs through each conversation and interaction. This book was intriguing, ends on a cliff hanger, and left me wanting more.