Yearbook Stories 1976-1978
Written by Chris Staros
Art by Bo Hampton and Rich Tommaso
Top Shelf Productions
Cover price: $4.00; Available now
I don’t read a lot of autobiographical comics, mostly because a lot of time either I can’t really identify with the subject, or it’s just badly done and heavy handed. Personal stories can be a hard thing to pull off in any medium. For every poignant story that pulls at the heart strings of the viewer/reader/listener, you get a bunch of self-indulgent crap that no one but the creator can relate to.
Well this book here has a couple of stories, one that is easily relatable, and one that’s not so much relatable, but is still pretty funny. I will however say buyer beware, because while I enjoyed it, your mileage may vary. The art is worth checking out though. It’s not flashy, but it’s very well done and really gets the story across.
The first story tells how writer Chris Staros decided to run for student president when he was in high school and the affect this decision had on his life. It’s about how he got over his insecurities and started to grow up. And if that sounds like intolerable navel gazing, then maybe this isn’t for you, but Staros manages to bring the story across with such passion and honesty that it really affected me. It’s just an honest story of a young man’s life, and it affected me. That’s the highest compliment I can give to it. It made me smile, it made me kind of sad, and it just plain moved me. Really, that’s the best you can hope for with this type of story. Art on the first story is provided by Bo Hampton who has a very animated style. The soft lines look great, and he really handles the emotions of the characters. The style fits the story perfectly.
The second story also comes from the writer’s life, albeit a bit later in his high school life. This one deals with his band playing a party for a bunch of bikers and the strange things that happen during the party. It’s not as emotional but is more humorous. I was as invested in it as I was the first story, but I still got the sense of fun that this story was trying to get across. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much, but it was still decent enough. The art on the second part comes from Rich Tommaso, who uses a more angular and sketchy style. It’s not as expressive, but it is more suited to this stories manic energy, and again, is well matched to the story. It’s not a style I enjoy as much, but it works well here.
Both the stories in this collection are well worth reading. While everyone might not identify with the situations and characters within, the craft by which the stories are told is undeniable and expertly done. My biggest complaint is that I wish there was more in here, because I want to read more. The comic is 32 pages long, but with no ads, so it’s a pretty decent value. If you can find it and are a fan of more personal comics, I’d recommend picking it up.