People ask me whether I think in French or in English now that I’ve lived in the US a while. I lie when I answer this. I say it depends on what I’m thinking about—English for work, French for family and curse words. This answer is usually welcomed as logical: a language for the intellect, another for the feelings. Of course. The truth is I have no idea what language I think in, and because I’m a hypochondriac, I worry that this might mean I have a brain tumor. I end up wondering if I ever actually think of anything. In my head, it’s mostly blurry images, or blocks of sense memories colliding with whatever I’m presently seeing. Rarely a fully formed thought—unless I’m actively trying to make sense of something, the way I am doing right now. In conversation, though, some words come to me in English and others in French, and I have to pause for a second to find the correct translation.
Everyone loves ice cream. Everyone loves the idea of ice cream, the reality of ice cream. They love thinking about ice cream, and talking about ice cream, and eating ice cream. And it’s not just the ice cream itself, but the old-timey experience of ice cream, which is the ultimate comfort food, the pasta of desserts. “You’re selling nostalgia,” says Nicholas Morgenstern, of Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream on the Lower East Side. It’s not just a food; it’s a feeling. But actually running an ice-cream shop? That’s a business. “It’s not what you think it is,” Morgenstern adds. “If anyone has a fantasy about it, they’re not aware of what it takes to do it.”
Matt Fraction is, in fact, very smart — let’s get that out of the way. He talks like someone who writes all the time. Everything he says sounds as if it could be used later for dialogue; every comment is filtered through some adage or metaphor. Moreover, a very, very stupid person couldn’t have swapped the protagonist’s gender in a historically male-centric story in a way that didn’t feel contrived, or like a fussy Grand Sociopolitical Statement. A very, very stupid person couldn’t have gathered up these events and launched them through time and space to far-away planets in the distant future, and made it all work so gorgeously.