The genius of Blame This on the Boogie is the way Rina Ayuyang recreates the energy and fun of growing up in a Filipino household as a lover of Hollywood musicals and the music videos of the 1980s. The illustrator/writer uses bold colours and kinetic, fluid panels to show how she moves as a kid whose goal in life is to be Fred Astaire.
With the liberal use of fiery reds, deep oranges and intense yellows, she brings her graphic memoir to life. The young Ayuyang doesn’t make a distinction between Daddy Long Legs, John Travolta and Simon Le Bon. All of them make her want to shake a tailfeather.
If you remember the way Bill Watterston used to depict Calvin dancing with Hobbes, then you’ll have some idea of Ayuyang’s style. The characters seem to blur on the page, they are moving with such verve.
The first half of Blame This on the Boogie depicts Ayuyang’s young life in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. The rest of the book is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to her devotion as an adult to television’s Dancing With the Stars.
She seems just as amused as anyone else that the reality show comes to occupy a central place in her life. You would think drawings of someone sitting at a computer surfing Facebook for fellow DWTS fans wouldn’t be engrossing, but Ayuyang makes it work.
Blame This on the Boogie comes from Montreal publisher Drawn and Quarterly.
Last year, I reviewed Lorina Mapa’s Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me, another coming-of-age tale from a transplanted Filipina published by the East Coast’s Conundrum Press. What we have here is the beginning of a trend in graphic novels. Let’s hope it continues.