Eric's Comic Review: AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON
Are you out of Visine and need dry eye relief? An Elegy for Amelia Johnson seeks to rid you of that problem by expelling every tear from your body. That is the only body fluid (sorry no blood) that is seen throughout this stirringly earnest look at what one person can mean to different people.
Comics gets misconceived as a genre rather than a medium and titles such as this may not get the appropriate due coverage or respect. This even though artists like Will Eisner (the guy the big comic award is named after) and Craig Thompson (Blankets, Unstable Molecules) have gained acceptance from mainstream critics by portraying the mundane, but beautiful aspects of life. The two aforementioned writers are the first two names that popped into my mind when reading this book. There is a startlingly personal genuineness to this book that can actually be quite moving if the reader is willing. The title character sending her two friends on a journey to give recorded messages to different special individuals and capturing their reactions on camera was the basic premise, which worked well. I was happy to see that the work did not shy away from harder subjects, such as abortion and the seemingly unconditional reverence people hold for the dying that may only incur positive comments from the subjects that the duo (and crew) visits. The cast of characters is interesting and are given dialog that feels real. Andrew Rostan occasionally slips into melodrama, but it is evident that those moments are from the author getting into his work rather than a need to show off writing chops. It does cause some unevenness to the dialog and cuts a slight bit of relativity from the characters. It was good to see, however, that he kept an amount of humor to lighten up some pretty heavy themes.
The art here is similar to that of the Tintin series and Thompson's Blankets. While the characters' faces are simply drawn, they are both expressive and distinguishable. Dave Valeza and Kate Kasenow capture the sense of movement and place as the group travels cross county to different locales. Along with the moments of comedy, the visuals set to add some levity to the delicate subject matter. There is also a nice visual trick of switching the panels between the camera and the naked eye view. This combined with the black and white of the pages gives the title a Citizen Kane feel, except for more positive.
In a market that is saturated in ultra-violence, it's good to see that there are still comics out there that show some overt sentimentality and emotions. It's a nice, personal story that can be uneven at times, yet has a lot of heart and humor to make up for it. Again, the intent of An Elegy for Amelia Johnson is to make you cry. Now, gird thee thy loins and give a try you big baby!
Story: Andrew Rostan
Art: Dave Valeza & Kate Kasenow
Cover: Dave Valeza
128 PAGES/HC BW
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