Amour: The Amour Anthology #1
Written by Bart A. Thompson
Art by Ezequiel Pineda
Letters by Brant W. Fowler
Cover Price $3.50; Available Now
The skinny on Amour, an Approbation Comics title, is that it’s a black-and-white anthology of three one-and-done storylines about dating life in our society today. Billed as a romance comic book, each story is a bite-sized chunk of early relationship stages, i.e., the really uncomfortable dating portions. The anthology format is one that caters to shorter story, limiting the overall scope of a book, generally frustrating interested readers but pulling in casual readers with easy to access stories and fresh characters. Amour is a nice balance of short-play stories generally centered around two individuals in situations that are, for the lack of a better term, called dates. The shorter stories play down Bart Thompson‘s likely weakness with writing longer narratives.
Creator and writer Thompson’s dialogue runs heavy in portions of the book, and the words fail to flow with any sense of thread or continuity … even in the moments meant to simulate awkward conversation, it’s hard to imagine anyone talking in such a way. His characterizations are shallow pastiches, horrible representations of individuals, which might be how he pictures the characters in his head. The title doesn’t generate a fluid context to pull the reader in. Instead, haphazard scenarios are strung together like stale Cheerios on a shoestring.
That’s not to say there’s not room for improvement, because there definitely is. Thompson is able to grasp the notion of the abstractness of human emotion and relationships, but it’s the skill at conveying these ideals into the printed form that poses as Thompson’s biggest hurdle.
And the highest complement one can give artist Ezequiel Pineda is that his work is solid indy art, accomplishing a great deal with simple line weights and black-and-white rendering. However, his women qualify as over-developed and wear little to cover up their tops and bottoms — every girl is wearing nothing but sorora-whore attire even when heading off to a college class. And the general curvature of Pineda’s women defies all space and time. His anatomy really needs some fine tuning. One panel depicting a waitress handing off a menu had her arm anatomy all wonky (wonky — that’s technical talk). The cover to Amour#1 is enticing, indeed, but it’s also an attempt at computer coloring that masks Pineda’s strength at depicting the sensuality in his subject.
The biggest drawback to Pineda’s work is his anatomy, which often looks stiff and jerky, placing his subjects in uncomfortable poses, perhaps using a Gumby toy as a reference instead of paying money for life-drawing classes. The artist is at his best when he is in talking-head form, rendering a simple conversation between Amour characters (as opposed to illustrating a mass conversation with detailed view changes), and it’s in the third installment of Amour #1 that the artist really starts developing his skill set in not only depicting characters, but also restructuring his page composition, relying on those subtle panel changes between characters to do his talking and truly let the emotions of his characters fly in-sync with Thompson’s script.
The first vignette is heavily influenced by online dating in the mainstream, when Wendy, the main character of this storyline, is confronted by her friends in a coffee shop with her choice for social companionship. Eventually she meets up with the guy at the other end of the electronic data stream (thanks to a little provoking from her roommate (? — I use a question mark, ‘cause I’m not sure how many girls just hang out with their friends in their underwear … just hanging out, not changing or anything). The good news is that Wendy doesn’t end up as a body count in some violent, sex-addled crazy’s crime docket. Hoorah for Wendy.
Vignette numero dos takes place at a concert (there’s a dramatic change in drawing styles, relying more on digital working of the backgrounds, which seems a cheap substitute to doing the labor by pencil and pen) where the characters Amy and Eric hook up at a rock concert. Most of the vignette’s space is taken up by lame crowd-dancing shots and the stereotypical rocker trying to entice the crowd.
The third vignette is arguably the most realistic (and perhaps best of the trio), even if it’s heavy-handed in its narrative. Mark and Samantha are two passing comic book creators vying for a pitch at a Comic Con. Samantha isn’t what you’d imagine a female con-goer would look like (do girls really wear these kind of clothes when they’re not clubbing or acting in porn films?), and neither is Mark, a slightly handsome young man with dark hair and a goatee. Through their conversations about comics the two realize they’re each other’s competition, but they still hit it off by the end of the book.
As far as romance books go, Amour isn’t too awful, but it could definitely use some touchups as the series progresses, and by the third mini-arc, Pineda’s art had improved (probably through practice), though his anatomy still gets fuzzy in spots. I’m still not sure if you could call Amour a romance book, but it’s definitely got great elements to get it off the ground. If Thompson can continue with the series long enough, hopefully he’ll bring a few of these depicted dates into full on relationships or have the characters from different vignettes start passing each other to give the title a more dynamic aspect.
Available at IndyPlanet.