Wonderlust #1 - Review

In Wonderlust #1, a one-shot from Image Comics, C.B. Cebulski writes a series of short vignettes from his life, without really tying together, except to give an almost impressionistic look at Cebulski's life. The stories are not completely structureless, though, as they are all about Cebulski's life in high school and college, and they all involve his interactions with the various girls in his life during the time period. For each story, he is paired with a different artist. The end result, while perhaps not as deep as a number of other autobiographical comics, is an engaging collection of true life tales.

The first story, featuring artwork by Paul Azaceta, features two friends bemoaning a break-up. The simple tale of male bonding is aided tremendously by Azaceta's strong artwork, giving deep characterization to every subtle movement by the characters. It's really impressive, and shows demonstratively how a little can go a long ways.

That is a lesson that the second artist, Martin Montiel, should probably learn, as he is clearly a talented artist, but good lord, man, the amount of rendering that went into this story - it is pretty creepy. For instance, Montiel draws a beautifully rendered cassette tape. But then, when characters are making contact with each other, it doesn't look natural at all - everyone is so perfectly rendered that they do not seem able to actually TOUCH each other. The story is a slight one, involving a prank during a sexual encounter by the protagonist. It's a funny story.

The third tale is drawn by Alina Urusov, who brings a cartoony feel, which really leaps out compared to the styles of the other artists. It is a story of a boyfriend and the best friend of his girlfriend, and what happens when they are alone on a weekend when the girlfriend is away, and when the girl his girlfriend sends to "keep an eye on him" looks to be more trouble than expected. It is a cute story, especially in how Cebulski accurately captures the amorphous morals of high school life.

Jonathan Luna lends his illustration to a very sweet tale (the fifth in the book - I'm skipping four because it ties in with six) very nicely depicting the departure for college, and what that means for most high school romances. Luna draws it in a pop art style that really sticks out.

The emotional centerpiece of the comic, though, is definitely the fourth and sixth stories, which tell the story of an emotionally tragic event between Cebulski and a female friend of his, which is later developed on when they meet again during their first break from college. In this sense, putting a story between the tales was a great idea, as it gave the sharp pain from the fourth story enough time to heal a bit in our minds before returning to the relationship with the sixth story.

Khoi Pham draws the first part, doing a decent job showing the emotional hurt of what happens sometimes when you're too high to notice things around you. It actually sorta reminds me of a set-up for an anti-drug commercial...hehe.

Ethan Young, though, does a really nice job showing the tenderness and awkwardness of what happens when these friends meet again while in college. So bittersweet. Nicely told by Cebulski.

Wrap it all in a warm homage cover by Yu (I don't like the idea of getting Leinil Yu to do your cover, and then making it be an homage to a movie poster - seems like a bit of a waste), and you have yourself a solid collection of high school stories.


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