The excellence of the second issue of Image’s True Story Swear to God really made the relatively lacking first issue stand out even more as an extremely odd choice to have as the first issue of the Image series, because, unlike the second issue (and this week’s #3), it really did not capture the heart of these characters, and did not have a very strong narrative at all, coming off as much more meandering than you would like to see from the first issue of a comic book, even if the first issue is only the first issue at a new publisher.
In any event, last issue was a very impressive look at a time when writer/artist Tom Beland’s girlfriend, Lily, cuts off her beautiful hair as a Buddhist exercise. Beland covered the decision from a variety of perspectives, making the decision come across to the reader as a powerful change in Lily’s life. It was quite touching.
This issue follows up that storyline a bit, but also addresses Beland’s struggles with adjusting to life as an American living in Puerto Rico so he could be with his girlfriend. In this issue, we see the beauty of auto-biographical comics, taking normal events in one life, but forming an interesting, cohesive narrative with them, containing a beginning, middle and end.
The topic of the issue is change, centered mainly on Beland’s difficulties with dealing with the changes inherent in moving from California to Puerto Rico. I really appreciate the unfiltered aspect Beland brings to the character interactions in the book. He does not put makeup on the warts, he shows them to us fully, even if that means showing us fights where he comes off quite poorly. The fights have a really good flow to them – authentic sounding, but also interesting to read. In addition, Beland does a very nice job as a storyteller, by taking a simple fight over a dog barking and using it to demonstrate how difficult it is for Beland to adjust to life in Puerto Rico while also showing how difficult it is for Lily to have Beland keep whining to her about it being difficult adjusting to life in Puerto Rico. And I love the fact that Beland, the comic writer, does not attempt to disguise the fact that Beland, the person, appears to whine a lot.
Beland’s art is cartoony, but gets the job done nicely, especially with facial expressions. My favorite bit is a shot of Beland on a balcony, listening to the dog bark. Great facial expression there. And there is a nice sequential sequence where Beland is putting a sign together, where it gives off the feel of stepping out of a Dr. Seuss tale – very nicely done.
There are other changes afoot, besides Beland adjusting to Puerto Rico, and they are handled quite nicely, especially the strong ending to the comic book.
After the first issue, I was a bit worried about this title, but the second issue was a really, really good, and this issue was good as well.
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