Wednesday, April 5, 2017

#ComicsWednesday: The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver

I enjoy traveling, but I would much rather read a book about a road trip than actually drive thousands of miles myself. The road trip from California to Rhode Island in The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal is perfect for an armchair traveler like me. The comic was written and illustrated by E.K. Weaver and while this is very much a character-driven story, I loved how she would use full-page illustrations (some in full color) of the changing landscape to highlight the characters' journey.
Weaver's artistic skills also shine in capturing facial expressions and body language, making full use of the comic as a visual medium for storytelling. She tells her story without thought bubbles (and with very few narrative boxes), conveying her characters' (even the background characters!) emotions and internal landscapes through her illustrations. It's a choice that rewards careful readers, and I found rereading to be a rich experience, giving new context to earlier interactions.

The story was originally published online as a webcomic between 2009 and 2014, which is how I first read it, even though the wait between updates could be torture! New readers will probably appreciate the chance to experience the whole story in one book at their own pace.

The morning after calling off his arranged marriage and coming out as gay to his conservative parents, Amal wakes up with a hangover and a stranger in his kitchen. Amal might've destroyed his relationship with his parents, but he's still determined to be there for his sister's graduation.

Apparently he agreed to split the cost of the cross-country trip with a total stranger before blacking out. TJ has his own reasons for leaving California, knows a tattoo artist in Rhode Island, and doesn't have a car. TJ and Amal make for an odd couple and seemingly have very little in common. However, hours upon hours trapped in a car will help you get to know anyone better.

Small spoiler alert: this story does include a romance, and that romance does include a physical relationship between our main characters. Much of the sexual content occurs off panel, but there is enough illustrated on the page (plus drug use) to definitely place this comic in the Adult collection.
Click to view larger because this sequence makes me giggle every time.
I was sad on the day I read the last page of TJ and Amal, but I'm incredibly happy that I have the chance to share this emotional journey with new readers!

~Sarah, Adult Services

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