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His eyes are huge Tremendous balls of a beautiful fury of life Vibrant with hope and wonder completely without guile They are set in his face like saucers from space Only identifiable at all because they hover so serenely with no intentions toward darting or flight He looks into you And about you And through you He is amazing And you have romanticized every bit of him Even though his eyes while lovely are really just normal lovely child eyes You have turned him into a unicorn a rarity a celestial gift Because he’s dying Or if not dying then at least close to it Or if not close then at least he is in some sort of danger He lives under threat And I mean as do we all right? But maybe he’s at risk than you or anyone else you know Probably Maybe And your heart breaksIt was 1983 when I first heard about AIDS I was in fourth grade It would be another couple years before I realized it was an actual thing and not just a playground game the children played to ostracize their fellows according to the arbitrary rules of the schoolyard—a kind of cooties for the Reagan era It had something to do with being gay or being a homo whatever that was But by the sixth grade I knew everything that anyone knew about AIDS and HIV I knew it several times over and so did my classmates We had the privilege of a handful of mandatory school assemblies devoted to the subject I only actually remember two assemblies through junior high the drug one and the AIDS one And we had those two assemblies at least five times each Probably actually I was a sixth grader who had never seen real drugs in real life and had no idea how one could obtain them but I knew all about pot and ludes and angel dust and coke and heroin and acid and how basically if I took any one of them I’d probably be swallowing a mug of Drain O within three months I also knew about condoms and monkeys and sailors and homosexuals and dentists and needles and toilet seats and oral sex even though it would be a millennia until I would see a real girl in real life for real naked It was a weird and awkward time AIDS and drugs were all anyone ever talked about for a while The Russians too I guess And then eventually the LA gangs and their inevitable spread south But for a while it was AIDS and drugs Then I was in high school and nobody talked about drugs any Mostly because they were all procuring and consuming drugs probably I still had no idea how one could obtain drugs1 And then I was in high school and Magic Johnson happened and suddenly no one cared about AIDS any either I’m sure it was still a thing It had to be I just hadn’t heard about it in forever No matter I knew everything about it After all I was in junior high onceThe fact is I don’t believe I’ve ever known anyone with HIV I’ve known people who’ve died sure Old age cancers hiking accidents suicides ODs even spontaneous exsanguination Nobody AIDS though And Magic Johnson is still alive so maybe it’s not hard to stay alive with HIV But he’s rich And who knows Maybe that matters And of course it’s possible that they just haven’t told me they’ve got it Not for fear of judgment likely but maybe just for whatever the reason is that people don’t talk about the very serious things that exert a kind of rule over their lives Awhile back I was afraid I was going to lose a nut or two I didn’t really talk about it If you’re reading this it’s likely the first time you’ve heard of it Even if we’re best friends And man as I write this it’s becoming increasingly clear that I really don’t know anything about HIV And of course this is all a put on I was well aware exactly how much or little I know about HIV before sitting down to write But there’s still a scent of honesty here because it’s the book we’re talking about that alerted me to my deficiency on the subject Blue Pills even apart from and above being a fantastic comic dropped hammers into the ceiling of the greenhouse in which I kept and cultivated the entire treasure of my AIDS and HIV knowledgeI didn’t know that Blue Pills was autobiographical when I began it And now I’ve ruined you for having the same experience as me I didn’t realize it until maybe two thirds through Then it clicked and the whole thing became amazing That Frederik Peeters was writing this story and writing this story about himself and those he held dear staggered meBacking up slightlyFred meets Cati a few times over the years that comprise their young twenties He’s a sometimes shy sometimes exuberant sometimes moody guy trying to figure out life She’s young and free and well Fred really knows so little about her that he can’t really describe her with any accuracy but to say “One What kind of girl is this who allows herself to drink champagne in a swimming pool with a wet t shirt while managing to remain classy and in good taste? Two Good God what magnificent breasts” After crossing paths several times he runs into her at a party and they strike up a comfortable rhythm and remain together for the rest of the book Despite Cati dropping the other shoe soon after the partyIt’s 1999 Cati is divorced with a child And that’s not the shoe The clunk or thud or whatever sound that echoes through the rest of Fred’s life and a thud that Cati certainly heard years earlier is that both Cati and her son are HIV positive And Fred—who knows about what I learned from a bunch of junior high assemblies in 1986—is so entranced comfortable and at home with Cati that he says with a kind of passive aggressive eff yoo at fate “So what?” Sure he’s terrified and confused and has no idea the import of what he’s agreeing to2 but he knows he wants into this life that is Cati’s He wants a piece and a part And so they work at it and they make things workAnd all of that the fact of the set up and the fact that they love each other dearly and the fact that there’s a sick kid in the picture and the fact that fifteen years later they’re all still alive and that Frederik and Cati have an HIV free child3 isn’t really the point of the book The plot elements merely build the foundation for the point of the book the evolution of Fred’s thoughts on the whole situationWhat does it mean that every time you stick your penis into the person you love than anything—an act you mean for pleasure and to give pleasure—you might be pulling the trigger on your own demise? What does it mean for the woman you’re with that every time you have sex she might have accidentally killed you? What about this sweet little boy? How will he get through those awkward teen years? It’s hard enough to talk to girls you’re into when the culmination of your youthful horniness won’t kill them And what if that kid doesn’t even survive to be a teenager? Nothing after all is certain And the anger At science at fate at friends at society At death What do you do about the anger?This is what Blue Pills is about The stuff that often matters so much than the summary of events that make up our lives and deaths And Peeters does a good job keeping this from feeling pedantic—even when by the end he’s strayed almost entirely into rumination He keeps the book feeling real feeling close feeling intimate And that’s why when we look into the kid’s bright wide eyes we can’t help but romanticize Because there’s magic there A magic that Peeters through art and through script unveils And Peeters could have done that thing that everybody does when telling a story about something tragic like HIV he could have made it tragic He could have pulled at hearts and strings He could have cultivated pity and mournfulness in the reader but that’s the last thing he wants Blue Pills is not a sad story And there’s magic in that tooReview courtesy of Good Ok BadFootnotes1 I was so cool2 Not really he doesn’t because like who could?3 These last two things aren’t revealed within the book as it was published in 2001 but through simple Googling Still this is one of those things I didn’t know about HIV that is unveiled through the course of the story HIV can be manageable enough that a man can safely reproduce with a woman who is positive Safely for both himself and for their child That’s like a lightning bolt revelation to me—and one that I might have been aware of had I actually known anyone with HIV Fantastic autobiographical comic about author Frederik Peeters and his relationship with his HIV positive girlfriend and her son Very moving intense and an over all wonderful comic about the lengths one will endure for love The graphics were neat and Craig Thompson esue I especially loved the mammoth near the endwhen i look backward i have the impression of happiness and of a diffuse and permanent pleasure but i know that it's because of movement of the close connection between heavy and light moments i know that if this realtionship has compared to previous ones it's that it lives that it carries us that it imposes on us its unpredictable rhythm without running out of steam pg 130don't ask for things to happen the way you want be happy with wanting them as they happen An autobiographical comic about a young man who learns his girlfriend and her young son are HIV The relationships between Fred and his gf his friends and especially the little boy are sweet and feel true and the art is really good His ink is fluid but nevertheless conveys a great deal of information That said the language often feels clunky and overwrought The artist has a long conversation with a mastadon about his confused feelings about science He overuses ellipses There's a lot of talk about the brambles of darkness and such The sort of thing that's a bit pretentious and interesting to the artist himself than to strangers like me Also there's this weird conversation wherein a friend is like seriously? You'll never have condom less sex? EVER? How could you stay in such a relationship? and the artist goeswell yeah it's very difficult Wait what? Even if she wasn't HIV there should've been condoms Aren't condoms used in most adult sex regardless of sereostatus? Frederik Peeters tells the story of his relationship with his wife Cati and her 3 year old son both of whom are HIV positive He meets Cati years after meeting her for the first time to find that since their last meeting she has had a child been divorced and contracted AIDS This doesn't stop him from being with her but we learn of the obstacles that come with it The cautious beginnings of their physical love the vigilance of maintaining a normal life for the child despite a regime of pills and syrups and a scare when a condom breaks and Peeters thinks he's contracted the virus he hasn't The book shows a deep and fulfilling love between Peeters and Cati one that has the spectre of AIDS in the background but never dominating their life to the point where they can't live They live their life as normal couples do and their relationship is both moving and sweet The relationship between Peeters and his stepson is also very well told here The scene when during a house party the 3 year old moves through the guests to where Peeters is sitting on the balcony and then sitting between his legs to play with his toy dinosaurs is very touching and not at all sentimental The stark realism of the story is belayed in the final part of the book where the author works out his frustrations and anger with a wise mammoth as they roam the prehistoric plains the mammoth uoting everyone from Oscar Wilde to Burt Reynolds The magical realism works and the author comes to realise how he cherishes his wife and son because of the illness and how through the challenges they have developed a stronger love for each other Peeters draws as beautifully as he tells his story the illustrations being somewhere between Craig Thompson and Jeff Lemire both masters The book is a beautiful and moving evocation of love in the face of adversity Very easy to read a fascinating story told expertly and lovingly I recommend it to any and all From one of Europe’s most celebrated young comics artists a deeply personal story that will resonate with all who have chosen to love in the face of great challenges One summer night at a house party Fred met Cati Though they barely spoke he vividly remembered her gracefulness and abandon They meet again years later and this time their connection is instantaneous But when things become serious a nervous Cati tells him that she and her three year old son are both HIV positive With great beauty and economy Peeters traces the development of their intimacy and their revelatory relationship with a doctor whose affection and frankness allow them to fully realize their passionate connection If I could give this 35 stars I would I thought the romance between the main characters was sweet and kind and I loved the Swedish doctor character I'm not sure if something was lost in the translation but a lot of the language seems pretty overwrought and the mammoth bit had me sighing out loud Still I would recommend it to anybody who's a fan of the graphic novel memoir An interesting graphic novel Something different than what I usually pick up and I enjoyed it Based on the authors relationship with his HIV positive girlfriend and son Beautiful love story and how nothing can stand in the way of true love Blue Pills was an escape from my busy life to a life where someone is suffering from HIV The story was about a man and his girlfriend who live together but the woman has HIV She takes pills that are blue to help her disease They have a child together and the child is HIV positive Throughout the novel the man explains the everyday troubles they go through because of her HIV I felt bad for the child when he was little because he had to take medicine that wasn’t pleasant He didn’t understand why he had to take it The man also went into explain how hard it was for him to play the father figure The girlfriend and he were not married and he wasn’t the father type I thought he did a good job I would recommend this to anyone I think people should read this book because people every day suffer from HIV This graphic memoir tells the story of how the author Fred met Cati at a party Time passes They meet again and this time connect As their relationship deepens Cati tells Fred that she and her three year old son are HIV positive Relationships between people are ever so personal and yet there are universal themes we can all relate to I really liked the honesty in the telling and while the black and white brushwork evokes the right mood I did not love the art I also think there might be things lost in translation as the language seems clunky in parts Frederik Peeters artistA semi autobiographical tale about the relationship between a comic artist and a woman with a young son both of whom are HIV positive A simple human tale told with a deft touch45 Pilules bleues

About the Author: Frederik Peeters

Frédérik Peeters born 13 August 1974 in Geneva is a contemporary Swiss graphic novelist He received his bachelor of arts degree in visual communication from the École Supérieure d’Arts Appliués in Geneva in 1995 Peeters currently lives with his partner Cati her son and their daughter in GenevaHis autobiographical graphic novel Blue Pills received the Polish Jury Prize at the Angoulême Int

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