A Boy & A Girl
The problem with anticipation is that it makes a perfectly fine read seem like a let-down. I very much enjoyed Natalie Nourigat’s art in her diary comic Between Gears, and I’ve loved Jamie Rich’s relationship writing for years now.
Yet A Boy & A Girl didn’t spark for me. I enjoyed reading it, but I wanted more from it. Perhaps that’s a compliment, a sign that I was involved in the world and with the characters so much that only spending a short time with them felt like it wasn’t enough.
Charley and Travis have just met at a party (for a guy who has just replaced his dead mother with a robot replica, telling us this is set in the future) and instantly sparked. But Charley bolted without giving him her contact information. She’s about to leave town, shipping out on an assignment she compares to military service, a work obligation she doesn’t want to change.
Charley and his disgusting buddy Gregor set out to find her. There’s a lead at a nightclub, but the boys keep getting distracted by fights, one because they’re selling term papers and messed up a client, another over jealousy of another guy. Perhaps that’s one reason I was a bit discouraged — the behavior seemed stupid and out of place, there to give the story more action.
Nourigat’s characters are attractive and expressive. There’s a lot of discussion of what it means to be an artificial intelligence, since Travis is “a philosophy major specializing in digital ethics”. I can’t talk too much about the plot otherwise, because lots of the fun is figuring out what’s really going on — although one key revelation, I figured out long before it was revealed.
This review compares the story to Before Sunrise meets Blade Runner, which is apt. (I’d add Date Night into the mix as well, what with the running from the fighting and such.) The “just like our world but with robots” future is occasionally used to surprise the reader, since she doesn’t know the rules of exactly what exists in that culture.
This story was supposed to have been serialized at the Oni website starting in January, but that never happened. Shame, because giving readers more of a preview might have been good for sales. A Boy & A Girl will be available on November 27. It can be ordered from your local comic retailer with Diamond code JUL13 1213.
There are preview pages included in this interview with Rich, while this interview with both creators goes into more depth about the project’s beginnings. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)