AJ Dungo’s graphic novel from Nobrow hit the “must read” list in my head thanks to a recommendation on The Awesome Comics Podcast, so diving into the book already felt like something I’d get something from.
Inside was a unique blend of heartfelt autobiography and history lesson as AJ gave us a glimpse of the personal struggle he went through with his partner & her illness while also giving us a background in the surfing passion they both shared. The story unravels as we’re given glimpses of a relationship that’s blossomed from a mutual attraction and while the contrast with a surfing history lesson becomes intrinsically linked with a heartfelt story…..there is something instantly likable about the way AJ has laid his story out.
The art is kept simple throughout with a change of tone capturing the historic elements and the connection that’s grown between the central couple as the helplessness grips them both in the face of cancer taking over their life like a wave itself. The emotions and honesty around those help make the highs of love and the lows of loss hit at just the right time and with just the weight they need and it seems impossible not to be moved by this.
It’s a hefty book to get into but it’s so easy to read and get swept up in that it’s power shines through on every page. AJ has managed to make sure the art is the eye-catching ripples on the surface with the story underneath holding all the power and catching you with the type of elements that make you stop & think about what’s just happened – that triggers contemplation and it’s a highlight of just how much quality material there is outside the world of superheroes & capes. Real life can be hard to face but a book like this shows that sharing & connecting with others is a significant way to get the most out of the time we have.
Raw, heartfelt & moving in the journey we’re allowed to accompany AJ on, but there’s the light of hope in among that which shines on the highs of loving, laughing & living. Shout out to AJ for his approach and willingness to share everything and a shout out to Nobrow for adding another significant read into the world.