Having already been impressed with Act One of Owen Michael Johnson’s Reel Love I was pretty hyped to hear that a second act was being pushed for release at last weekends Glasgow Comic Con…..and although I’d already seen a digital copy of the book it’s the hardcopy that I was waiting to get my hands on. I can’t help it….I’m old school!
Where Act One dealt with the discovery of cinema in all it’s glory and the friendships that grew from a shared appreciation of all things movie related the risks in a sequel to a comic as good as that first one were high but as Owen returns to write & draw this…..the result just goes further to emphasize how much talent is poured into these two heartfelt chapters of his life.
Act Two picks up with Owen in his early teens and at that awkward age where you’re still trying to find your place in this world. The escapism of cinema still beckons and the prospect of a job in the newest cinema in town marks a very real beginning of his growing up. First steps into the big bad world, a new group of misfit friends and the first glimpse of love outwith the celluloid screen covers all the major milestones you’d expect. Underneath that surface there’s the same sense of open and honesty with sexual encounters and jealousy all taking it’s toll on our central character’s psyche.
The cinema friends soon become his cast & crew as the need to unleash his imagination and actually make movies becomes a new aspect of his life and a new challenge for the social group to survive. It’s also the beginning of the end for this chapter as he ultimately moves on but not without reminiscing from time to time and facing a heartbreaking discovery in the last panel.
Artwise it swings from the precise & intricate to a more free-flowing mashup of events with scenes that mimic the release of creativity for the central character…..and that all gives it an instant & stark relatability. Funny in places, grim in places but always entertaining enough to ensure that Act Two doesn’t derail the wonder of Act One……but instead slaps in you in the face with some cold hard truths that I’m sure we already know anyway but choose to try and forget or ignore. Go get this and get Act One while you’re there because you won’t be disappointed with either of these.