Everything you need to know about “Kill Your Boyfriend” can be found on its back-cover: “Girls meets boy. Girl falls for boy. Boy takes girl on violent rampage through English suburb. Murder, sex, drugs and anarchy follow.”
Judging from that blurb, you can probably figure out whether or not “Kill Your Boyfriend” is for you.
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Philip Bond
Inked by Philip Bond and D’israeli
Colored by Daniel Vozzo
Lettered by Ellie DeVille
A Vertigo cult classic returns with this new, third printing of KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND, written by Grant Morrison (FINAL CRISIS, THE INVISIBLES) and illustrated by Philip Bond (VIMANARAMA) and D’Israeli (THE SANDMAN). Originally published in 1995, KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND is an over-the-top black comedy of rebellion and teen romance topped with a heady mix of random violence and dark humor. A British schoolgirl yearning for excitement joins up with an angry rebel boy intent on tearing down middle-class England. Through their violent, anti-authority joyride – filled with sex, drugs, and anarchy – Morrison offers a scathing, often-hilarious take on the British suburban landscape, where edgy behavior provides an escape from sanity.
It’s hard for me to talk about this comic critically from a non-biased standpoint because it’s a book that’s important to me getting into comics. Whenever I pick up and flick through my copy I’m instantly transported back to high school, discovering my local library’s graphic novel section and reading this instead of researching an essay. But at the same time, I’m not blind to its faults. If I’m being honest with you, “Kill Your Boyfriend” wouldn’t even rank in my Top 10 list of the Must Read Before You Die Grant Morrison comics. In the scope of his body of work, I wouldn’t necessarily call it essential.
But you should still absolutely read it.
Set in an unnamed British suburb, the comic centers on the unnamed Girl, a well educated high schooler who is sick of the repetitive and dull cycle of her middle-class life. She’s frustrated; repressed by her parents and left feeling unfulfilled by her dorky boyfriend. She wants something more, but she doesn’t know what that something is.
That all changes when she meets The Boy, a rebel clad in black and Dionysus incarnate. Together they drink, take drugs. Oh, and they kill The Girl’s boyfriend (but you probably saw that coming, right?)
On the run from the police, what follows is a drug and sex fuelled black comedy, as the two lovers terrorise the world around them. Morrison and Bond perfectly capture that feeling of being a teenager and properly discovering just who you are, that you’re not the person everyone tells you to be. It’s about extending yourself past your boundaries instead of placating yourself with where and who you currently are. It’s experimenting and trying new things instead of staying within the sheltered confines of what you’ve currently got.
While Morrison and Bond rail against the complacency of normalness, they also strike out at the Holier-Than-Thou pseudo-intellectuals. On the road The Girl and The Boy meet a double-decker bus of roving artists, who are a pretentious lot who talk a big game and use fancy $5 words to describe their ideology and artistic vision, but never commit to actually doing anything. They own a grenade that they want to use to blow up Blackpool Tower, but never move past the planning stage. They’re all smoke, no fire; too busy taking LSD and having polyamorous sex to actually do something. At one point The Boy utters what may be the most important message of the entire comic: “Never trust a bunch of fucking art students.”
Philip Bond’s art is a good fit for the story. His style has that classic look that’d you find in an issue of an old romance comic, but with a distinct contemporary style. Less high heels and summer dresses, more Dr. Martens and dirty denim jackets. The Girl looks like the kind of beautiful, doe-eyed girl that Roy Lichtenstein would want to make a knock off of. And really, that’s what “Kill Your Boyfriend” is – a classic romance story of two star-crossed lovers who are so madly infatuated with one another that they’d kill for them, but told with a distinct subversiveness of the mid-Nineties. It’s “Young Romance” meets Blur. In the back matter of the third printing of “Kill Your Boyfriend”, Morrison admits that the story’s “young killers in love and on the run” theme was inspired by Terrence Malick’s film Badlands. Morrison and Bond just updated it from 1959 to 1995.Continued below
At the time “Kill Your Boyfriend” was released, Morrison was doing more subversive – and memorable – things in “The Invisibles.” This is probably the most one-the-nose comic Morrison has ever written. His usual multi-layered and dense storytelling won’t be found here, which is fine. “Kill Your Boyfriend” didn’t need to be some hyper-time meta-narrative. It’s a simple story of teenage rebellion. It’s sneaking out of your house after your parents are asleep, or getting your friend’s older brother to buy you beer because you’re underage. It’s teenage wish fulfillment taken to the extreme. The Girl and The Boy can do everything you want to do but can’t. They can pop ecstasy tablets like Tic Tacs, shag like rabbits and vent their frustration by murdering some unfortunate soul. You don’t have to kill your boyfriend, but you should go out of your way to “Kill Your Boyfriend.”