Every day this month I’ll be reviewing a different independent comic book, based on submissions from the creators of the comic books themselves.
The month continues with a delightful romance comic by Jason Turner and Manien Botma about a young woman beginning a new relationship while trying to end her current one (all set in Vancouver).
I know it is kind of odd to go with a release party ad, but that was the best-sized image I could find of the cover.
In any event, True Loves was written by Jason Turner and Manien Botma and is drawn by Turner. Turner has a quirky, almost Jim Mahfood-ian style.
Whatever you might think about his particular art style, Turner is a talented sequential storyteller, and he definitely gets the most out of his panels. One of his neatest tricks, and it is really something that I think more comic book writers should try, is by doing a strong approximation of how people really think. For instance, in a page, two characters who are dating are talking. One mentions the winter and that leads into a series of panels where we see what each character is thinking of, stream of consciousness style. Here, Turner and Botma show you how it is clear that these two characters do not belong together, just by how different their stream of consciousness is (it does not help that one of the characters eventually begins thinking about another guy).
When the story opens, the protagonist, True, is dating a respectable man named Dirk who is a bit on the square side of things. She then encounters another guy, Zander, who is a total free spirit (actually, amusingly enough, we meet Zander BEFORE we meet Dirk, only we don’t know that he is destined to become the main romantic lead in the comic when we meet him – he’s just a customer).
One of the coolest aspects of this story is that True is not some sickeningly sweet lady stuck in a loveless relationship. She’s neurotic and at times way too selfish and thoughtless, but deep down you can tell that she is a good person, just a good person who does not always handle things the greatest. So Turner and Botma don’t make it easy for the reader to just say, “Oh, she is way too good for Dirk.” Heck, during a sweet trip to Dirk’s family for Christmas, it almost seems like the other way around! She is there for this cute family holiday while she spends the time irritated because she wants to see Zander as soon as they get back home!
It’s not that we blame her for wanting to be with Zander, as really, they’re a great couple. It’s just that she does not get herself out of her current relationship for way too long.
Turner and Botma make good usage out of the scenes where True talks to her best friend and Zander talks to his best friend, Herb (Herb is a particularly intriguing character). It’s a great way to get to know these characters apart from each other so that when they come together, we really know why they mesh so well.
The city of Vancouver plays a major role in this comic – it is practically a love letter to the city. A LOT of specific references to the city and its scene.
This was a well-made comic that sets up the further adventures of the main couple in a compelling fashion that makes you want to read what happens to them next (I’ll feature “what happens next” later this month, when I feature Vol. 2).
If you want to purchase a copy of Volume 1, you can do so here.