Frayed Ends

    (Alebrije, 2003)
ô and © Alebrije Press

As the story begins, itís apparent that an emotionally fragile Paul is having trouble coping with being dumped by his girlfriend. Yes, this is another self-published comic book about a young guyís relationship troubles. Fortunately, though, it stands apart for many reasons, the least being that it doesnít take the whiny, self-pitying route to the degree that many of its peers have.

The main difference is that Brightman chooses not to make this a soap opera at all but, rather, takes a whimsical journey through Paulís imagination, where heís reunited with his long-forgotten and childhood imaginary friend and is forced to take sides on issues that have rarely come forward from the back of his mind. Cornered, heís forced into confrontation, and these mental conflicts begin to prep him for addressing his real-life issues.

Brightman brings a lot of different touches artistically; Paulís face is rendered with only a few simple strokes, while his ex is given an almost Terry Moore-ish quality. And the friend within his mind looks as if heís stepped out of a manga comic book. The array of styles gives the entire story a surprisingly textured look for such simple black-and-white line art.

Itís a light but inspiring look at one way to cope with oneís problems, and the long-awaited and oft-delayed final issue is scheduled to ship any time. Fans of Mooreís Strangers in Paradise or other relationship-oriented comics might find this worth a look.

ó Jim Johnson

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