Having already been blown away by act One & Two of Owen Michael Johnson’s Reel Love, hearing that there was a third act on the way in a collected edition had me scrambling over to Unbound to throw my backing behind it.
The coming of age tale had already wowed with its sense of awe and bittersweet hopefulness that oozed the kind of resonating power we tend to see in the most elaborate Cinema releases, which in itself is an inspiring co-incidence given that movies play such a pivotal role in this personal story. The embers of imagination were sparked in Owen’s early days through a visit to the movies with his father and while that initial visit may have conjured up more fear than anything else, the hook was there.
Friendships and loss spread throughout Reel Love but with that comes the hope that around the corner you’ll stumble across your next set of kindred spirits that will band together to try to figure out your way in the world. The stumbling blocks along the way that catch you off guard are played out for all to see with his return to a much-loved hometown but the third act brings us hurtling into the present day as film-making becomes a new element as the promises & failures surrounding it break into daily thoughts.
That glorious slice of life vibe is punctuated with art that captures ever detail of the unfolding story – the heartbreak, the hearty laughter and everything in between comes into a stark vision of black & white. The tweaks to the first acts are subtle and the whole book has as polished a feel to it as you’ll probably ever see in the comic book world.
The three act story plays out like the comic book equivalent of The Wonder Years and that includes all the ups & downs you might expect….what’s different here, at least for me, is that the infectious love for the movies is something that’s already worked its way into my psyche. This automatically elevates this into an event book in all but name but it’s an event that I’ve lived, shared and loved along with Owen. If you love cinema, if you love comics or even if you just love the bittersweet reality of life…..then get this book so you can read/hug it like me.
You can pre-order Reel Love ahead of its release on the 24th January over on Unbound, Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles & Hive. You can also pick-up a copy at a signing event that Orbital Comics are holding in-store on Saturday the 26th January.