Christina & Charles by Austin English
I love a good story that throws you off of any preconceived notions you might have. I mean, obviously this is a story about two people named Christina & Charles, right? And if theyâ€™re not together instantly, you know that sooner or later they will be. Well, not so much. Ordinarily this would be a spoiler but Austin sums everything up beautifully on the back page, talking about how even though these two people never met they were really quite similar and could have benefited from knowing each other. The book is broken up more or less into halves, the first half dealing with Christina. Itâ€™s like a quiet conversation sheâ€™s having almost with herself, talking about a moment with her Mom, trying to fit in with her richer friends in high school, falling in love, and her jealousy of the careless ease with which a group of thirteen year old kids dealt with each other. The second half is about Charlie, told from the perspective of his brother, dealing with their rich fantasy life, watching how their cousin Tim dealt with being completely in love with a faithless woman, and how every girl wanted to be near Charlie in high school. Iâ€™ve thought highly of Austinâ€™s stuff for years, and this still blows everything else he has done out of the water. He captures the quiet moments here in ways that would make even the most perceptive comic artists jealous, tells a variety of simple truths that I hadnâ€™t even considered and puts such obvious love into each panel that itâ€™s impossible not to be charmed. He says in the afterward that this is the first book of many and it damned well better be, because itâ€™s people like him that, despite occasional boredom with comics, keep me coming back for more and excited to see new books. And if youâ€™re thinking this isnâ€™t for you because the art turns you off, or isnâ€™t your styleâ€¦ no. Itâ€™s absolutely perfect for what he does. This is for anybody who needs a shot in the arm to reinstill their love of comics or just wants a reminder of why they started reading these funny books in the first place.