Off*Beat Volume 1
Tory’s a really bright kid with some really strange hobbies. He documents everything in his notebooks, and he’s obsessed with the new neighbor, Colin, another 15-year-old who moved in at midnight.
Tory convinces his mother to switch him to Colin’s school, necessitating a two-hour commute from Queens to Long Island every day. There, Tory breaks into the guidance counselor’s office to find out more about the boy he’s fixated on Tory eventually gets to know Colin by using his perfect grades as an excuse to tutor him, along with a Student Council representative named Mandy.
The spying (almost stalking) and documenting in Off*Beat reminded me of Harriet the Spy, only I don’t remember Harriet wanting to be so involved with the objects of her observations. There really is a mystery associated with Colin, although Tory goes too far in trying to figure it out.
The art by Jen Lee Quick is great, establishing the settings and the characters well in an unique blend of American independent and manga styles, but the pacing is sloooooooow. We’re both told and shown things about the characters in great detail and sometimes repetitively. In contrast, Tory mentions he learns a lot about Colin from his breaking-and-entering, but the story doesn’t share that information with us or follow up on it, which made me wonder “why bother?”
I really like certain elements of the story, mainly the realistic portrayal of a smart-but-bored teen and the art style, but it needed a lot more editorial guidance. There are too many elements that feel like dead ends, and as a result, I felt like the book was just getting started when it ended. This isn’t a Volume 1 as much as a Volume 0 or 1/2 — background to the story I think the author really wants to tell, or perhaps just the one I’d rather read.
Quick previously illustrated Once in a Blue Moon from Oni Press. Her art can be sampled at deviantART.