Stefan Bucher's Medals for Broken Hearts (And Other Dubious Love Achievements)

Have you ever suffered because of love? Stefan Bucher thinks you deserve a medal.

In fact, you ought to be able to get one for all kinds of love-related achievements. Bucher (who is known for his drawings of monsters) recently wrote and illustrated a book about it. It's called You Deserve A Medal: Honors on the Path to True Love.

Are the publishers (Knock Knock Books) going to make actual medals for all the ones you designed?

So far, we've made actual medals out of "The Worst-of-Days Medal for Heartbreak Survival" (complete with Liberty Bell crack), "The Molten Medal for Overwhelming Sex Appeal," and for "The One-in-a-Million Medal for True Love Recognition, Appreciation, and Reciprocation."

Getting these medals sculpted, stamped out of metal, hung from custom-woven grosgrain ribbon, and fitted snuggle into custom clamshell cases takes a lot of time and care, so we started with the big ones.

I hope the rest will make the jump from the book into metal, too. I'd particularly like to see "The Self Respect Recovery Star," because the ribbon clasp is a working carpenter's level.

Which of these medals have you personally won?

Oh boy, which ones haven't I? Some bullets I dodged, but the majority of the main medals come from personal experience. I've either earned them myself, or somebody earned them because of me. I'm proud of my "Persistent Online Dating Medal."

I earned my "Presidential Medal of Courage in the Face of Unknown Nudity," but I hope I don't earn any more "Shadow-of-a-Doubt Medals of Creeping Disenchantment."

Stefan Bucher's Medals for Broken Hearts (And Other Dubious Love Achievements)

Which is the most difficult to win? Like, which is the Congressional Medal of Honor for romance. I think those are more difficult to win than purple hearts. I think you have to die for those.

"The One-in-a-Million Medal for True Love Recognition, Appreciation, and Reciprocation" is the holy grail, of course, because you gotta find love, recognize that you found it, and then be able to accept it. That's like rubbing your stomach and patting your head while walking down the street chewing gum and solving the Hodge Conjecture.

What was the genesis of this project? Did someone break up with you? Are you having love problems?

I have overactive-brain problems, so yes. Of course, I have love problems. I think anybody who doesn't is either lying or drunk or both. I'm lucky to have an amazing girlfriend, but that doesn't mean I stop worrying or getting in my own way.

The project did start in the wake of a breakup. I had fallen into a difficult long-term relationship. After it ended and I got my bearings back I turned to the online personals. In the process I met a lot of amazing people who were baffled by love, too. It just became clear that we should get some damn awards for all this effort. (In talking with them, it was also obvious that there need to be dating demerits and reprimands. Those are on pages 96 and 97.)

Stefan Bucher's Medals for Broken Hearts (And Other Dubious Love Achievements)

The Echo Park Time Travel Mart should sell the medals. Will they?

My favorite store in the history of ever? But of course. They've been selling the book since 2172. They told me that Errol Flynn picked up a copy and couldn't stop laughing. So you can get them there, or you can pick up a copy of the book at the launch party at Skylight Books on the Day after Valentine's and I'll sign it for you.

Stefan Bucher's Medals for Broken Hearts (And Other Dubious Love Achievements)

Did you consider and reject any medals? For instance, I could imagine a medal for being a psychotic stalker in the name of love.

That's where the aforementioned "dating demerits and reprimands" section comes in. It's titled "The Opposite of Glory" and features such dubious honors as the "Intermittent Excellence in Personal Hygiene Star," the "Houdini Medal of Misdirection and Sudden Disappearance," and the "Searing-Honesty Star for Hyperaccurate Personal Critiques."

Psychotic stalkers already have their own book, "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - A Humorous Guide to Life, Love, and Why Your Toaster is Telling You That We're Meant To Be Together."

Stefan, being Stefan, added his own question--"Do you have any advice for people this Valentine's Day?"--then answered it:

It's not about winning medals, it's about doing something that will make somebody else happy, and THEN winning a medal for it. Think of the thing that makes your cynical self cringe with embarrassment, then do exactly that. And if you see somebody cradling a toaster, run.

Stefan Bucher's Medals for Broken Hearts (And Other Dubious Love Achievements)

Stefan Bucher signs copies of his book You Deserve A Medal at Skylight Books, 7:30 p.m., February 15, 2011.

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