Alternative Comics Beat: This One Summer
By Ken Porter
This One Summer
Written by: Markio Tamaki
Art by: Jillian Tamaki
Published by: First Second
Summer reading, summer adventure
One of my favorite things to do during the summer is read something that reminds me how much I cherish the way I spend the rest of my summer days -- with good friends. When I stumble upon something that reminds me what it was like to be younger, to have the summer be a grand adventure, I cherish it all the more.
This One Summer is an original graphic novel that captures the adventure of a summer cabin and injects some real human moments and themes into the story.
The story follows Rose, a girl that’s spent every year in Awago Beach with her mother and father. Her summer bestie Windy stays each year in a cabin near by, and the two of them are inseparable when they arrive. Problems start to arise when Rose’s mom starts lashing out and withdrawing for unknown reasons, and Rose starts experiencing second-hand what it’s going to be like when she’s a teenager. She and Windy spend the summer watching horror movies and talking about their inevitible puberty, and each scene has more heart and charm than the last.
An original graphic novel more like a prose novel
One of the many great things about this OGN is that it doesn’t really read like many other comics. While you can often see a clear story structure in most books, This One Summer reads more like an illustrated novel that a regular American comic book.
This format lets readers spend more time with Rose and get inside her head, even in silent scenes or where she has no dialogue. It’s a book that really sets a tone and mood for the characters and lets them explore throughout the pages.
Why it’s a great alternative
This is the kind of book that doesn’t have a supernatural twist. There’s no superpowers, no ghosts, and no demons or space invaders. It’s just a slice-of-life story about summer and coming to terms with growing up, as well as they mysteries of older kids and sex. It’s a great change of pace for people that are burnt out on superhero comics or want something a little more grounded.
Who would enjoy this OGN?
I think that people who are fans of comics like Lost at Sea, Blankets, and Essex County will really enjoy this OGN. It’s got the same amount of heart as all of those stories and really shows off how comics can be used to tell a story in any genre. It’s a fantastic story that doesn’t need fantastical elements to make you feel for the characters.
Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic books including "Ink Ribbon" from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year's Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in "Artifacts" #33.