REVIEW: TRUE STORY SWEAR TO GOD vol. 2 #8
Writer/Artist: Tom Beland
My regular comics store Travelling Man (typically) didn’t get TTSTG in for me this week. They rarely get a shipment of it, though I preorder every month and they order it as well, seeing as Tom Beland is very popular in Manchester. Nevertheless, the main office doesn’t send them copies in. It’s an indie curse or whatever. (I’m building to a point, bare with me)
So I bite the bullet and head across the road to the dank and smelly cesspit basement (Forbidden Planet). (Big fan). They of course have loads of copies of TTSTG on display. I grab one and head to the counter (this is where I get to the point of my rant) and pay for it, cash. Two pounds.
I never really notice how much comics cost every week, since I’m buying a healthy stack and pay by debit card. So the economics of how much different comics cost and how much I’m paying for each issue get lost in the excitement of getting that thick bag home with me.
Back to the point: Two Pounds.
For reading a comic about a guy’s life. A comic book diary. It’s what mainstream comics fans are most likely to make fun of in indie comics. “Boring geeks writing about their boring-ass geek lives, as if anything interesting happens or if anyone cares to read about it”.
I’m buying this. Every month I’m giving two of my hard-earned (sic) pounds to read 22 pages about some geek’s life in Puerto Rico. Read about his love for this woman he met by chance at DisneyWorld and how she changed his life. Read how they started dating long distance across different countries, how he eventually moved to Puerto Rico to live with her, how he managed to cope with the change of country and climate. Read about the problems their relationship has, about his sexual performance problems, his insecurities and his personality flaws. Read about his dream to publish a comic and follow the whole process intimately, from the first spark, to actually drawing it, showing it to people, sharing it and eventually publishing and distributing it.
And I keep on buying it. Is it the same fascination that once drove me to devotely watch reality shows on Greek television? Am I fascinated at the idea of peeking inside this guy’s personal life? Nah.
Unlike reality shows and most indy biographies, the stories here have proper structure and pace. Each issue continues the story of Tom and Lily’s romance, moving chronologically forward; yet each one adheres to a specific theme and event, focusing on one or two specific events from this small period. It’s easy to get lost in the flow, and keep churning out issue after issue that just keeps several subplots going without focusing on a theme; it’s easy to happen in fiction books, let alone a book based on reality where this is the natural way of daily life.
Funnily enough, despite the name of the book, and even despite having seen photos and videos of Tom and his wife, I still have trouble remembering that the cartoon people in this book are real living breathing people. I’ll forget this is essentially a guy’s diary he’s sharing with the world. Then a small common experience reference from the world or the comics industry will turn up and I’ll have a moment of clarity, before sinking back into the story. I’ll see Diamond Comics distribution discussed,m or a reference to my favourite comics reviewers. Heck, this issue actually refers back to the review of the first issue of the book from www.thefourthrail.com . The review that got me reading this book in the first place!
It doesn’t matter that it’s a true story. It’s a GREAT story, swear to God!
In this issue, Tom returns to a familiar theme in the book: Leaving. Lily’s sister Eva is moving to Tampa with her family, but Lily is having a difficult time accepting this change, especially involving the matter of buying Eva’s house for the couple to move in. The relationship is also once more in the microscope, by showing Tom and Lily (almost said ‘the two characters’ back there) talking to their respective friends over dinner about their joint life, going through the various quirks that drive each other insane, but reaching a happy conclusion. Tom doesn’t just go through the daily notions with us, but he shares his thoughts and realizations from life with Lily, and that is the most endearing aspect of the comic.
So, do I regret shelling out two pounds every month to hear about a guy’s love life in a different continent?
In fact I’ll do you one better. This is one of the books I’m most looking forward to every month. It’s like expecting this monthly phone call from a friend you haven’t seen in a while (or in this case never), telling you what’s been going on with his life, sharing his innermost thoughts and confiding his problems. Tom builds a personal friendship with each of his readers that only strengthens each month, and it’s something ‘true’ly unique in this genre or any other.
Grade: oh who cares! Go buy it.
Tags: Small Press