*True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are… — Recommended

A cartoonist tells the real-life story of how he and his wife fell in love. After meeting at a well-known amusement park, they have to deal with a long-distance romance, with him in California, her in Puerto Rico.

Beland’s pages contain simple, cartoony figures that, like good caricatures, capture the essence of the characters. The author is drawn as a regular guy, with open-circle eyes that make him a willing receptacle for experience. There are several pages where one character in close head shot displays a variety of emotions. These demonstrate both the range of moods people go through as part of falling in love and the author’s skill at capturing expression even on simple faces. The lettering continues the mood; the open, round handwriting is welcoming and easy to read.

True Story Swear to God: Chances Are... cover
True Story, Swear to God:
Chances Are…
Buy this book

Lots of people feel alone, but it’s even worse when you’re in the middle of a Disney theme park, supposed to be one of the happiest places on earth. At one point, Beland talks about the grumpy feeling you get when you see someone else get what you always wanted — but this story happens because he didn’t make that choice. He took a chance, and it worked out better than he ever dreamed. Sometimes fate does work the way it’s supposed to.

He quickly hits the high points of the situation with enough detail to bring the reader into the story without getting bogged down. It’s just like being there, only not everyone is lucky enough to have this magical an experience. The mood of the main character changes throughout the story, naturally. It’s not jumpy or abrupt, but realistic, as we share his experiences. He provides a lot of insight into his emotions and those of others. It’s hard to come up with ways to describe such a widespread shared feeling as love in new ways, but none of his descriptions seemed trite. Instead, they struck me as thoughtful.

I can tell Beland has honed his chops on short comedy strips (many of which are collected in 100 Stories). The punchlines in the humorous scenes have great timing. There’s a particularly funny incident with a fast food restaurant that doesn’t understand the phrase “customer service”.

As Tom’s brother gets married, Tom ponders weddings and what they mean. Also, Lily encourages him to publish his work. This significant step brings up the insecurity of the artist. All creators wonder how they’ll cope if what they care so much about is rejected. It’s even worse in this case, where his work is the true story of his life.

Although we’re still seeing Lily through his head, not getting inside hers — it is his story, after all — we learn more about her beliefs and opinions. She’s always seemed easy-going and accepting, but when she talks a little bit about pranic healing, we get hints as to where her inner calm stems from. We also get to see her less than perfect, more human, as most people are when dealing with family at an important time.

Every time I read this comic, I cry. It’s at different places in the story each time, but some aspect of it always touches me deeply because it’s not only true, it feels real. This story really is magical. It’s so inspiring and affecting with strong emotion.

True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are… brilliantly helps fill the gap in the current market of romance comics… and best of all, this one’s true, so it’s easier to believe in the message of love it conveys. All love stories are the same, but all love stories are different. This comic captures the best of that experience.

Tom Beland’s web site has sample strips available. He also has a blog, and the AIT/Planet Lar site has a True Story page.

11 Responses to “*True Story, Swear to God: Chances Are… — Recommended”

  1. True Story, Swear to God #16 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] latest issue of this true-life romance comic takes on a new but equally inspiring subject: becoming a comics […]

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Following up on the events of Chances Are…, This One Goes to 11 begins with a hurricane threatening Puerto Rico while Tom can do nothing but worry long distance about his girlfriend Lily. He’s taking his stress out on his co-workers and family in realistic portrayals of how people distract themselves from big issues with smaller disagreements, punctuated with asides on problems with the media. Such a tense situation, a matter of life and death, drives the realization of the need to make difficult-but-necessary choices. […]

  3. Gail Says:

    I love this book like chocolate, and Tom’s an industry treasure.


  4. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] True Story Swear to God Moves to Image
    Newsarama is reprinting a message board post from Tom Beland that states that his series True Story Swear to God is moving from self-publishing to Image Comics. […]

  5. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I Heart Marvel: Web of Romance — It doesn’t surprise me that Marvel didn’t know that “I heart” is often used sarcastically, especially online. The majority of titles in this ill-conceived event have been of no interest to me (and I’m one of the few people I know who like both superhero and romance comics enough to even consider trying one of them). This one, however, was written by Tom Beland (True Story Swear to God). Even though he prefers to call them “autobiographical”, the man knows how to write a romance comic. […]

  6. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] And the saddest news I read today: Tom and Lily broke up, split apart by the cultural differences he’s been chronicling in True Story, Swear to God. He says he’s still got eight years of their relationship’s history to tell, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to read it the same way, knowing the ending. […]

  7. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] First, Tom Beland got frank at Newsarama. His series True Story Swear to God is moving from AIT to Image, in part because of concerns over AIT’s marketing and distribution abilities: I want my books to be in book stores, as well as comic shops and this is an area where the company and I can’t get together on. […]

  8. Spark Generators 2 » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Minute), Rachel Hartman (Amy Unbounded), Chynna Clugston-Major (Blue Monday), and Tom Beland (True Story Swear to God). Not only is this book a fascinating way to learn more about the artists’ influences; […]

  9. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I’m glad to see the True Story, Swear to God series relaunch at Image with a #1 (JUL06 1674, $2.99), because Tom Beland seems to really want to do a series and is happy to be at that publisher, who will handle lots of the business details for him… but I have to wonder how well it’s going to do with their core audience. I’m probably wrong to be looking for things to worry about; I should just call this another sign of how Image aims to diversify. […]

  10. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] For those who don’t know, Tom draws True Story, Swear to God, and the first issue from the Image relaunch is due out this Wednesday. […]

  11. I Write About Comic Couples for Westfield » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I wrote about some different kinds of comic love stories, from my beloved Love and Capes to True Story Swear to God and a whole bunch of manga romances! Similar Posts: Happy Valentine’s With Comic Couples! […]




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