Sina Grace’s Self-Obsessed is not the kind of comic we have come to expect from Image Comics. It’s not a science fiction epic, or violent thriller, or modern action fantasy. It’s not a slick, widescreen comic ripe for big Hollywood adaptation. Instead, Self-Obsessed is a deeply personal autobiography about life, family, love, sex, and – perhaps most importantly – comics. It’s a collage of Grace’s life, a collection of moments and works that gives us an unflinching and human look at one person’s inner being. It is, without a doubt, the best thing Image Comics has published in a very long time.
Self-Obsessed covers a lot of ground; it’s a whirlwind tour through Sina Grace’s life, the good and the bad. A simpler, less challenging book would have been a straight narrative of life, love, and working towards one’s passion. Instead – and the book is better for it – Grace pieces together his own past through the comics he created at the time. We see his life through the lens of the moment, and that is not a feat many autobiographies can pull off. Grace puts it all in there, the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are strips that are downright hard to read, and not because of their content. They are literally hard to read because of poor lettering and construction. We get to see Sina Grace grow, one panel at a time.
Throughout the book, we get to see glimpses of how far Grace has come. For every ugly, old comic, there are pages and pages of gorgeous and unique work produced by the current Sina Grace (as weird as that sounds). There’s a beautiful sense of storytelling and flow that inhabits these pages, that sucks you in makes you instantly feel an intimacy with the man in the panel. Self-Obsessed shows us nearly every side of Sina Grace, and we quickly learn that when he’s good, he’s really, really good.
It’s this deeply personal collage of influence and work that makes Self-Obsessed so stunning. Grace doesn’t answer big questions – although he asks a lot – but rather he lays his fears, insecurities, wounds, and inner-strength out there for the whole world to see. It’s unflinching and strangely relatable. The man shows us copies of his old school IDs and driver licenses! It doesn’t get much more personal than that. Few of us would be brave enough to publish something like this, to draw and craft something like Self-Obsessed. All we can do is be thankful that Sina Grace did make this and had the guts to put it out there.