Tuesday, December 10, 2013


TEOTFW is the spare, direct, powerful, and addictive story of two teenagers who run away together and the consequences of their actions. James and Alyssa decide that life with their parents in their small town is not worth pursuing any more, so after James punches his dad in the face and steals his car, they strike off on their own. James is frighteningly blank and unfeeling, and gaining insight into his life and thoughts is very unnerving yet oddly compelling.
James is on the cover as an adult, but here is a flashback to his childhood.
Alyssa is more emotional and human, a mix of insecure and resilient that makes her alternately prickly and sympathetic.
Here she is lying to a security guard.
The couple run afoul of some satanists, lie, steal, break and enter, and end up visiting with Alyssa's estranged, pothead father whom she has not seen in years. The authorities end up on their trail, and I am not going to spoil the ending, but things do not turn out pretty. The narrative here is so simple, starkly presented, and violent, as well as extremely suspenseful and compelling.

Charles Forsman is a graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont, and a three-time Ignatz Award winner for his series Snake Oil. He also is the proprietor of Oily Comics. TEOTFW was originally published as a series of mini-comics from 2012-2013, and it and this collected version have certainly brought much more focus on his upcoming works. He speaks about his inspirations and work on TEOTFW in this interview.

The mini-comic series has been highly celebrated, and this collection has been well reviewed also. Kevin Cortez summed up, "The discomforting, disturbing story is a unique comic book nothing short of fantastic." The Comics Journal's Rob Clough wrote of Forsman's work, "He has a knack for giving voice to a certain sense of ennui and desperation for connection and meaning, yet manages to do so in a way that avoids navel-gazing and static storytelling." I agree with what his statements, and what I found so amazing was how Forsman was able to work with familiar tropes and characters, in a style that is cartoonish and reminiscent of newspaper comics, and to spin that combination in a way that avoids cliches and creates an excellent, suspenseful, and affecting story.

This collection is published by Fantagraphics, and they provide previews, reviews, videos, and more links here.

This book is certainly not for children, as it is full of strong language and graphic violence, but I recommend it highly for mature readers.

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