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posted August 22, 2007
Sara Ryan, Dylan Meconis
Coldwater Press, mini-comic, 16 pages, 2007, $2
I liked Click
the best of all the Sara Ryan short-story mini-comics I've read, I think mostly because the situation that presents itself has an emotional rawness and authenticity that works against Ryan's tendency to make her characters into narrative abstracts. Battle and Erin form one of those in-school insta-friendships that pop up every now and then before slipping away. This could be a fade in light of renewed previous relationships, a smashing up against certain ingrained social structures within the setting, or a simple burn-out due to one person misapprehending the interaction's significance. Ryan deftly avoids letting us know exactly what happened, and focuses on Battle's reaction to it.
Even if we've never been treated exactly the same way, the loss of a friend that probably wasn't a friend to begin with is one of those great specific universals to which everyone can relate in great detail, even if just second hand. To dig in after that formulation requires a fine observational eye. Although her characters still seem like types at several moments rather than individuals that might exist outside of the comic -- nothing either main character does proves surprising, or seems quirkily idiosyncratic, or speaks to a wider set of concerns outside the story's selected ones -- the general dismay Battle feels isn't forced, and the character's inability to force things into a conclusion all play to Ryan's credit. Meconis' art is clear and her setting expressive; I can imagine her working in comics' current publishing landscape for decades to come. I did have a difficult time placing the characters' ages, and figuring out the setting, but I think that was largely a function of the writing.
I don't think Click
transcends the basic needs of a Young Adult audience in terms of it being a more fulfilling, widely-felt artistic experience -- it's a pleasant short story, competently told, and fairly uncomplicated -- but if you were to read it over your kid's shoulder, you might respect its ambiguity and subtleties more than the blunt approach wielded by others of its type.