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Reel Love - The Complete Collection

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Reel Love - The Complete Collection back

Owen Michael Johnson


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

“This is your first memory of dreams in the dark.
“This is your first memory of me.
“Your father brought you to me.
“A little gift.
“Year later, when you learned of my origin, you would recall your own.
“I was but a child myself in 1896, as the Brother Lumiere released a vision at the Salon Indien Du Cafe Grande.
“Myth and memory fused to provide a greater story than truth.
“It was too much.
“Beginnings are always difficult.
“You emerged from me, kicking and screaming into a world of light.
“You did not yet know how to love me.
“But you would...”

I originally read the opening chapter of this work in self-published form several years ago and really loved (no pun intended) it, so I’m delighted to see the completed tale finally in the can and gracing the screens – I mean the shelves – in a comic shop near you in plush hardback form.

It’s the story of one man’s life-long, obsessive love of cinema, told in three acts of course, entitled entirely appropriately: ‘Projections’, ‘Concessions’ and ‘Admissions’.

Starting with the young boy somewhat overwhelmed by his first visit to a cinema (as you may have gathered from the pull quote above)...

...we see him grow into an aspiring film student with high hopes of one day making it to the bright lights of Hollywood, through to... well, we don’t want to give any spoilers out now do we...?

Our unnamed protagonist finds others who share his interest along the way, albeit perhaps to not quite the same degree. So consequently his all-consuming compulsion towards the cinematic is as likely to cost him relationships as it is to make them. Still, presumably that drive is going to get him to the big time, his films up onto the silver screen in front of the adoring eyes of millions...? For we all know ‘the business’ isn’t a fickle one, right?

Very well-written, I found all the characters entirely credible and the story extremely compelling. Artistically, here’s another pull quote to set the scene before I commence my comics buffery in that particular direction.

“But that black and white shit? Who likes stuff in black and white?
“I do. They’re atmospheric... elegant.”
“He can stay.”

I like black and white comics. Frequently they are indeed atmospheric and also elegant. I think applying the term elegant might be stretching it slightly when talking about Owen’s art style, which isn’t as strong as his writing, but it is certainly not remotely lacking in atmosphere. It’s extremely consistent with respect to itself and conveys the story more than adequately, but very, very occasionally I found myself noticing some slight over-emphasis of the characters, or other minor inconsistency and subconsciously slightly critiquing it, which momentarily took me out of the narrative. But let's be honest, nobody likes a critic!

I should at this point add that he is a lot, lot better artist than myself and I am sure he will only get tighter artistically. In fact I was at times minded of very early Nate MARCH Powell and Jeff ROUGHNECK Lemire stylistically. I merely mention this regarding the art because it might preclude the odd person, upon first perusal, from persisting and purchasing this. But they shouldn’t because it is well worth the price of entry.

Overall I simply admire Owen’s sheer tenacity in getting what is an extremely entertaining, accomplished and very nicely produced debut graphic novel out there and hopefully into your hands. Without his grit and drive to get this work completed, like many other comics creators out there who toil away for years to relatively little reward, our industry would be much poorer.

Not everyone gets to follow their artistic dreams, let alone achieve them, or indeed ‘make it big’ so kudos to Owen for writing, directing and producing this arthouse gem. I am sure it was a labour of real love for him. Pun most definitely intended.