Archive for True Story Swear to God

Holiday Gift Bag: True Story, Swear to God

Okay, the holidays are fast approaching, and I’m running out of time to make more gift recommendations fast, so why don’t we jump right in with some more? Today, let’s look at Tom Beland’s True Story, Swear to God.


This is an autobiographical comic — Tom is a newspaper cartoonist from Napa, California, who gets a free ticket to Disneyworld from a coworker. While visiting, he has a chance meeting with Lily, a radio personality from Puerto Rico. And they hit it off pretty amazingly — they’re basically soulmates. They start a long, long, long distance relationship, but Tom eventually decides to quit his job and move away from his lifelong home to live with Lily in San Juan. What follows is cultural shock, language barriers, loneliness, weather issues, hurricanes, money troubles, job troubles, comic books — and a love between two people that just never lets up.

What, you want more than that? True love isn’t enough for you?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Okay, okay, I didn’t talk a lot about long-running plots, but for the most part, it’s good episodic storytelling. Ain’t nothing wrong with episodic storytelling, especially when it’s this well-done.

Beland’s art style is very cartoony — but still lushly detailed when he needs it, usually when depicting the beauty of Puerto Rico — and that cartoonishness often gives his stories a comedic mood, even when the plots are especially dramatic. Lily’s ordeal during the hurricane is definitely not funny, for example — does Beland’s cartooning make it look funny? Well, maybe a bit — but it would also look really weird if he changed his art style just for that story. Besides, Beland is really good at seeing the funny side of most things, so I think the cartoons work great.

Beland is not only a very funny guy — he’s also a very good storyteller. Part of this is that he’s had a really incredible story fall into his lap. True love! There’s no better story, and Beland gets to live it! But he’s got a grand talent for description and characterization and dialogue. Let’s face it, some of these stories are fairly commonplace — like most of real life, every issue can’t involve a hurricane of a cross-continent move. But he still manages to make stories about waiting in airports, talking on the phone, hanging out with friends and family, and much more into tales that pull you into the narratives completely. There are no superheroes and very rare action, but this is something you just can’t quit reading.

Got someone on your list who doesn’t care for superheroes or sci-fi or horror or any of the usual comic-book fare, but deeply loves newspaper comics — and enjoys a great love story? This may be something they’ll love reading. The stories are collected in several different volumes from Image Comics and AiT/PlanetLar — and they’re not generally too expensive, ranging from $15 for smaller volumes to $20 for large phone book editions. Check with your local comic shop or hit up one of the big booksellers.

True Story, Swear to God by Tom Beland. Go pick it up, ‘kay?

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