Anthony's Reviews > Love is the Reason

Love is the Reason by Tim Fish
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's review
Mar 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: graphic-novels, lgbt
Recommended for: Bubbles
Read 2 times. Last read February 6, 2009 to February 9, 2009.

It is no secret that I'm a fan of graphic novelist Tim Fish's style. I reviewed his GN Strugglers here around this time last year. Fish has a clean, open art style that allows the characters to be expressive without being cluttered. Most of this new work originally appeared as a newspaper serial, and Fish retains the landscape layout on those pages (which means turning the book sideways to read) but reverts to standard portrait layout for the new pages. Conveniently most of the new pages come at the end of each character's section of the story, so that there is a symmetry to the book-turning. There's also a (perhaps intended) secondary effect that as the characters deal with their problems and love wins out, the pages go from landscape to portrait -- "love is the reason" the layout changes!

One of the main characters from Strugglers, Tighe, is a supporting character in this new work, but the story centers on three other characters: housemates Chase, Michael and Aubrey. The characters are introduced and their personal problems set up as a group storyline in the beginning section, but then each character takes center stage in their own section. Little moments in each character's section tell you where their story overlaps with the other characters.

I felt like I could relate to Aubrey and Michael in their particular struggles with love; Aubrey's been largely submissive his whole life, and Michael has lost someone and is afraid to move on. They deal with their fears in very different ways, so that there is a lot of difference between the two outside of Aubrey being blond and Michael having dark hair. I think I liked Michael the most despite the fact that his hobbies largely are not mine, while Aubrey was the one I'd want to take care of (as do, apparently, most of the guys he meets). Chase, however, is a very different character and I had to work at relating to him at all; I had to fight that urge to view him as the stereotype of the career-oriented commitment-phobe. Granted, Fish gets a lot of mileage out of Chase fitting that stereotype. I think part of the problem is that we get clear background on why Aubrey and Michael are who they are when the story starts, but with Chase all we really get is the sense that he's pretty much always been this way. (This could be because Chase features in one of Fish's currently un-completed GNs.) For me, this had the effect of making me feel satisfied with the closure to Aubrey and Michael's stories, but feeling a bit less satisfied with Chase's (not that I didn't like the resolution, just that I didn't feel as invested in his story as in Michael's and Aubrey's).

Fair Warning: the book carries a "YA, 16+" blurb on the back cover. Nephew Max was glancing over my shoulder occasionally as I was reading the book on the train home from NYC Comic-Con, especially when I'd laugh at a particularly funny page, and I certainly wasn't concerned that he'd seen anything inappropriate. There are plenty of half-naked men and "sex" scenes (no frontal nudity, but plenty of butt shots and sexy/romantic couplings) but none are really gratuitous -- the scenes are not there for the sake of sex or shock (this isn't Queer As Folk) and they are either used to make a point about the relationship or for a punchline (page 66-67, a double-page splash, is particularly effective in this regard).

I really recommend all of Tim Fish's work. You don't have to have read the other Cavalcade of Boys (or Strugglers) books to get this story, although longtime Fish readers will recognize the settings, street names and various cameo characters.

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