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If We Ever Break Up, This Is My Book

by Jason Logan

If someone else is suffering enough to write it down/When every single word makes sense/Then it’s easier to have those songs around.” Those wise words were written by Bernie Taupin, and sung by Elton John in “Sad Songs (Say So Much).” The point is simple – if your heart’s just been stomped on, a previously sappy-sounding mope of a song will suddenly shudder with newfound relevance and truth.

Toronto artist Jason Logan makes this very point in If We Ever Break Up, This is My Book, his cartoon diary of a breakup. In a chart titled “Some NEW Vocabulary,” he notes that “before” – that is, before the breakup – such songs were “vaguely noted on long elevator rides,” whereas “after,” they are “speaking directly to you.” Logan’s point is the same as Bernie and Elton’s: that the details may change, but the hurtin’s always the same.

Logan, a freelance illustrator who has done work for The New York Times, The Walrus, and others, created this book out of an actual cartoon diary he kept after breaking up with a longtime girlfriend. Most pages scan like a comic riff on heartbreak, reduced down to the absolute minimum and illustrated by one of Logan’s colourless, chicken-scratch drawings. All of this is organized into chronological chapters describing the full arc from breakup to feeling better, beginning with “Signs of Trouble” and moving through “The Really Bad Period” and ending, appropriately enough, with “A New Beginning.”

Most of the humour of the book comes from playing the “I did that!” game of recognition, except that occasionally the laugh dies on the vine as you come across something you did or thought but are still not quite “over it” enough to admit to, just yet.

I guess that’s why they call it the blues.