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It Never Happened Again: Two Stories
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It Never Happened Again: Two Stories

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  246 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Two exquisite stories drawn in Sam Alden's signature, flowing, and lush pencil style. In “Hawaii 1997,” few words are spoken, but Aldens imagery evokes the magic of a night-time encounter at a Hawaiian resort. In “Anime” he explores the complicated dynamics of pop culture obsession. Sam Alden is one of the brightest young talents working today.

Sam Alden was born in 1988 in
Paperback, 96 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Uncivilized Books (first published July 8th 2014)
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Xian Xian
Sep 27, 2015 Xian Xian rated it really liked it
Borrowed from the library

I was looking through the library at school like usual and I found this, a small paperback. It was pink and brand spanking new. And to me, it looked like a novel, which was why I was weirded out by it. Most graphic novels that come in this size are usually manga, but this wasn’t manga.

I never knew who this guy was and apparently his popularity came from Tumblr, I must’ve not had one during that time, because I’ve literally never heard of him or seen his artwork. Even the
Jan 09, 2015 Hollowspine rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
"Hawaii 1997"

I wondered if he'd ever shared the story with others before. As children, so often supervised it's interesting to see what they get up to when alone. Also interesting to reflect how easily games are introduced when we're children, yet the strangeness of these brief encounters on vacation that often fade from memory. I enjoyed the sketched quality of the pages, which lent them a dream-like tone.


This one really reached me. I took many Japanese language and culture classes as an
Matt Graupman
Dec 26, 2014 Matt Graupman rated it really liked it
I love and hate Sam Alden's comics. I love them because they're so confident and "out there." His beautiful pencils don't leave him anywhere to hide; you can see each stroke, every texture, and, in some cases, his underlying guide drawings. It's all right there, you can easily see how he crafts each panel. I hate his comics because I'm so jealous of how he's able to make such a feat seem so effortless; it's a rare and special talent that can pull off something so open and subtle.

"It Never Happen
Aug 26, 2014 Harris rated it really liked it
After reading "It Never Happened Again," by Sam Alden, an artist I had not previously heard of, I will definitely look for more of his work. The two short stories included in this interesting graphic novel, “Hawaii, 1997” and “Anime,” are both emotion rich and heartfelt depictions of life and how we try to fit into it. Sam Alden’s sketchy, almost crude style, filled with rough pencil strokes on white backgrounds, highlights the feelings of alienation and loneliness of the characters. Its ...more
Mika Lietzén
Feb 23, 2015 Mika Lietzén rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
A twofer in pencil; in "Hawaii 1997", a young boy on a vacation meets a girl, and a chase ensues. The drawings are rudimentary and barely there, but the nightly mood is good and the girl's final line in the story is priceless, breaking the fourth wall with glorious glee.

The second story, "Anime", features an obsessed anime fan preparing for her long-expected trip to Japan; the character is a train wreck in slo-mo, an unhappy social outsider, who perhaps believes that in Japan she will be happy.
Girl Oddity
Interesting little graphic novel.

The art style is simple, rough pencil sketches. Not my particular taste but that's ok.

The first story was quick and light. I suppose you could say it's about chance meetings, making human connections, not making human connections... Didn't evoke much of a reaction for me personally.

The second story was great though. It is super short, but there was more dialogue so you get to know the charachter a little better.

I felt somewhat connected to the second story. I
David Schaafsma
Two stories sketched out (and they really seem like they were copied from a sketchbook, pencil drawn, with some eraser marks still there, but this guy has talent. The first story is more accessible, a series of moments on a "Hawaii 1997" vacation, understated, few words, atmospheric. The second, "Anime," is actually more complex and may indicate yet another rich direction for this artist. This feels in some ways like young, unpolished stuff, but there is much potential in the artistry and ...more
I saw this title on some list or another of best books of 2014, so I figured I'd check it out, but it honestly didn't do much for me at all. The illustrations are all sketched out pencil drawings, and some of them have a certain beauty to them, but I felt like in a lot of panels it was hard to tell what exactly Alden was going for. And while I understood the mood Alden was trying to evoke in each story, I couldn't actually feel it. I don't know, I guess I was just expecting something a little ...more
Jun 02, 2014 MariNaomi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic, memoir
I loved this so much, I read it twice in a sitting, and then I pored over individual panels. What delicate storytelling and beautiful artwork. Sam Alden is a comics god.
Aug 06, 2014 Cary rated it it was amazing
consistently my favorite artist, consistent awe
Lauren Bailey
"Hawaii 1997"

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this story as has maybe six lines of dialogue overall. This is also the first Sam Alden comic I've read, and again I was surprised by how engrossed I was by his style. The sketchy graphite drawings are bare bones, gestural marks and even the memory of erased marks are all left visible. I personally love the history of the drawing mark being kept in a drawing as it often speaks to the process and energy of the drawing.

His quick lines read easily
Oct 22, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it
Interesting pencil work. "Hawaii 1987" was surprisingly beautiful, visually and story-wise. "Anime" made me want to cry for the main character and her search for belonging and love.
John Pistelli
Aug 29, 2014 John Pistelli rated it really liked it
[Disclosure: The publisher sent this book to me, thinking I would make a good audience for it given my review of their previous offering, True Swamp: Choose Your Poison.]

These two stories are deliberately stripped bare. Reproduced from Sam Alden's pencils, the drawings have the air of sketchbook pages, contours and gestures caught in the moment. But, as with all arts of simplicity and spontaneity, a careful structure supports the seeming improvisation. Alden paces his stories across mostly two-p
Jun 13, 2015 Alexander rated it it was ok
Sam Alden is an up and comer with a lot of promise but the two stories included (one previously published as a mini-comic and available on his website for free) aren't worth the investment as a graphic novel purchase.

Hawaii 1997 is actually a wonderful little story but the mini-comic needed to be redrawn for publication. As is, it looks terribly amateurish to see erased pencil work and other "imperfections" that add a child like quality to a story that would be lovely if redrawn and made to look
Feb 08, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
The first story in here is so brief and wordless it feels almost like a poem or a postcard, still effecting. It captures a pretty universal sentiment very well. The second story is similar in that it's more of a character study, also very well done. The pencil sketches are an interesting mix of child-like and reveling. The stories themselves go very fast - not much action or dialogue. I personally prefer to spend more time with the story or characters than is provided here, but for what this is ...more
Stewart Tame
Jan 02, 2015 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it
This is some beautiful work! Alden draws with lush, sweeping pencils that capture the mood perfectly. These are two unrelated stories told with grace and subtlety. I particularly enjoyed the first, a childhood reminiscence that reminded me of the movies of Isao Takahata in that the story seems to wander from incident to incident with no clear plot until the end where it suddenly crystalizes during a pivotal scene and you realize that the path that led here was planned and inevitable and there ...more
McKenzie Richardson
Overall I think this book just wasn't a good fit for me. "Hawaii 1997" was intriguing in how mysterious it was, but it was too drawn out for me. Little dialogue, simplistic black-and-white drawings, and slow paced plot, this story just didn't pull me in enough for me to enjoy it. I liked the ending, but over all was not into the story. "Anime" has more detailed and filled out artwork with more dialogue, but I still felt apathetic to the story and characters. Alden definitely has talent, but his ...more
Aaron Nugara
Aug 02, 2016 Aaron Nugara rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-comic
I read it in about 15 minutes, and immediately craved more of the little slices-of-life offered here by Sam Alden. At first, the art style seems to be overly crude, kind of like a rough first-draft of a storyboard. It then becomes clear that this is his art style. The sketched-out characters are full of emotion and personality. The stories have a nostalgic quality to them; like diary entries that were drawn instead of written down. It looks like memories. All done with a grey-lead pencil in a ti ...more
Virginia Yapp
Jun 21, 2015 Virginia Yapp rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adore this book, especially the first story. This is an example of where the style/form mesh perfectly with the storytelling. I can't image a better realization of a vague but important childhood memory. (The loose form of the pencil drawings pulls the reader into the memory in a really interesting way.) I love the way Sam Alden he is able to subtly change up his style for each story he tells. I definitely recommend checking out this one (and his other comics).
Dec 07, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of literary comics
Recommended to Stephanie by: Jesse L.
Shelves: sequential-art
I read Sam Alden's Haunter twice in one sitting, immediately hooked. I still think that's his strongest work, but found the two stories here--Hawaii 1997 and Anime, NOT New Orleans as the synopsis above describes--to be worth reading. The art is very primitive, far less intricate than in Wicked Chicken Queen, but the story is linear, close to life, and quietly heartrending.
Kelly Lynn Thomas
Jun 07, 2016 Kelly Lynn Thomas rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, short-stories
These two stories are touching, but the thing I loved most about this book was the pencil work, because it's amazing. It's somewhat rare to have a comic published that hasn't been inked and finalized, and it's refreshing to see how pencils can soften things, or make them harsher. Alden uses the contrast between light and dark really well, and of course the awesome art is backed up by solid stories.
Sasha Boersma
Mar 14, 2015 Sasha Boersma rated it really liked it
Not particularly stunning by means of story, but very thoughtful narrative through the images. Pure pencil, eraser marks and all. Told nearly entirely in images, you're left to make your own decisions/impression of the characters and their motivations.

In the first story, is is some particularly interesting work with shadows to foretell the ending.

Anyone with an interest in visual narratives should take a look at this little book.
Jun 21, 2016 Priscilla rated it liked it
his use of pencil always seems kitsch to me but the pacing is all very solid, and he uses it well to get a sense of intimacy and specific technical effects that couldn't be garnered otherwise. Really enjoyed how he showed the passage of time in anime, which was definitely the stronger piece in it. The characters felt real and uncomfortable but i still felt a sense of care for them, seemed like he did what he was trying to do.
May 21, 2015 Richard rated it it was ok
This was the second time this week that I opened a gorgeous cover and was disappointed by the muddy, dark interior. In this case, the rough pencil style gave me instant eyestrain.

The stories are decent (if familiar), and I liked Alden's Wicked Chicken Queen a lot. I'll check out his next book for sure, but I can't really recommend this one.
Jan 29, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing
How it's done. "Hawaii 1997" was beautiful and poignant. I could spend all day poring over the pencil drawings of Sam wading in the ocean while surrounded by stars. "Anime" was also a solid story. Five stars.
(I also recommend Sam's story from last year's Runner Runner anthology, which is somehow on an even higher level than this book).
May 06, 2016 falmith rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I found Sam Alden's work online earlier this year, and fell in love completely. Oddly enough, however, I felt like it didn't translate entirely well to book format. I feel his art would have been better served by a larger format, so that his pencils could really stretch and breathe. Instead, it felt surprisingly cramped and I felt my absorption was impeded.
Jul 11, 2016 Kate rated it liked it
Cute little stories. Alden shows a great deal of promise but the stories are hard to follow and I found that, since I was not always sure what was happening, I struggled to connect with any of the characters.
Caitlin Klask
Jan 24, 2016 Caitlin Klask rated it it was amazing
sam's one of those artists i feel like i 'know' because i've stalked him on twitter so much. i prefer his really meticulous work to the stripped down stuff but the stories carried this book beyond what the images were capable of.
Liz Yerby
Sep 07, 2015 Liz Yerby rated it it was amazing
that anime story! sam alden as always rill ethereal, killing it in pencil, making me feel like what am i doing? am i doing this wrong? should art be easier? gee thanks dude
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