The Way of the Word

17. March 2010

Review: True Story Swear to God Vol. 2 #12

Filed under: comics,Humor,review — jensaltmann @ 09:57
Tags: , , , , ,

Written & drawn by Tom Beland. Published by Image Comics. Cover price: US-$ 3.50

It has been several years since Californian cartoonist Tom Beland met Puerto Rican radio personality Lily Garcia at a bus stop at Disneyworld. They fell in love and Tom left everything he knew and loved behind to be with Lily on Puerto Rico.

Now, the time has come: the two get married. In Disneyworld. With the Mouse paying for everything.

True Story, Swear to God is just that: an autobiographical romance story, in which Tom Beland shares his relationship with Lily Garcia. It’s the titular true story, it’s autobiographic, it’s romantic, it’s funny.

I usually don’t care about autobiographical comics. And I couldn’t care less about romance. But there is something about True Story, Swear to God that is absolutely magical and appeals even to someone like me. I’m not sure why this is so.

Perhaps it is because the people in this comic (not characters, remember, these people all really exist) are utterly charming. Despite their foibles.

Perhaps it is because Tom Beland is very open and candid. Which is undeniable: Tom doesn’t shy away from presenting events and attitudes that put him in a less-flattering light. Even #12 has a case in point: a scene where Tom and Lily encounter a Muslim woman in a Burqa describes how uneasy it makes him feel, how it triggers his own prejudices, and how he manages to overcome them. Later he is so honest about his feelings for his sister-in-law that it made this reader wonder if the relationship he described still exists.

Actually, the one person about whom the reader knows the least happens to be Lily, the proverbial apple of Tom’s eye. The problem is that we see Lily through Tom’s filters, especially through the filter of his love for her. So while there are frequently small scenes (such as in #12) about the family and friends being, well, human, Tom very rarely shows us similar scenes featuring Lily, unless they are scenes where she interacts in his presence. I for one feel that this issue would have been richer if we had had a scene with Lily, without Tom, interacting with her family and friends. (It is of course possible and perfectly understandable that she doesn’t want to share such moments with his readers.) It would remove Lily slightly from the pedestal that Tom keeps her on, and would ultimately humanize her a bit.

Where True Story is absolute Magic is in Tom’s love for Lily and the people around him. His love for his family shines through in every page, it reaches out and touches your soul. Every time I read True Story, I am reminded of how I felt for my wife when our relationship was new. Tom manages the incredible feat of not just telling the readers of his “True Story of a Real Life Romance,” he makes them share it.

That is what makes True Story, Swear to God one of the best anglophone comics being currently published. If you are not reading this series, you are really and truly missing out. Even if, like me, you usually don’t enjoy true stories and/or romance, this one will capture your heart.

Go out and get your copy already.

Verdict: very recommended

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