Maybe… Maybe Not

Writer / Artist
Maybe… Maybe Not
Maybe... Maybe Not graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Northwest Press - 0-96563-232-6
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 1987
  • English language release date: 1998
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9780965632324
  • Contains adult content?: yes
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes

For a laugh the gay Walter attends a support group for men experiencing relationship problems. However, when one of them reaches the point of being so depressed that he attempts suicide Walter is the only person who’ll listen to his problems, leading to Walter inviting Axel to a party that weekend. No one is more surprised than Walter when the supposedly straight Axel takes him up on the offer.

Were the original German title translated, The Shifting Man would be about right, and it refers to Axel’s subsequent uncertainty about whether or not he might be attracted to men. It’s a slim plot, really little more than a succession of set pieces strung together, but Ralf König populates it with some hilarious scenes and observations, starting with the party where Axel is the unknowing object of desire. He’s very cleverly written, constantly asking the most disarming questions in an innocent manner, treating Walter and Norbert the same way he’d talk with straight mates. It leaves them in a constant state of uncertainty regarding the mixed messages he’s sending out. As this is going on, König also spends time showing us Axel’s former girlfriend Doro, who’s discovered firstly that she loves Axel after all, and secondly that she’s pregnant.

König’s cartooning isn’t the most expressive as his characters tend to have fixed expressions and massive noses no matter the circumstances. However, they’re constructed from a glorious mass of lines, and after a while you’ll become so caught up in the funny conversations that the cartooning becomes secondary. He even acknowledges the limitations by modifying a film still to feature his noses.

The constant frustrations and forlorn hopes accumulate accompanied by hilarious commentary making for a very satisfying read.

Presumably no-one was more surprised than König when in 1994 the filmed version of his story became the highest grossing in the German language to that point. The film also incorporates the sequel Maybe… Maybe Not Again.