Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 6

It Never Happened Again: Two Stories

by Sam Alden
Genre notes: day-in-life, nostalgia
96 pages
ISBN: 0988901463 (Amazon)

Sam Alden as a fairly fresh member of the comics avant garde has put forth a number of pretty fantastic and creative works. Notable, to me at least, were Backyard and The Worm Troll—both tremendous early works. While Backyard might be the most visually stunning and The Worm Troll the most ingenious, it was Hawaii 1997 that most interacted with my heart, with my nostalgia for the struggles and adventures that a much younger me experienced.

Hawaii 1997 is the first of the two stories included in this small (5.25" x 7"!) volume and it's tremendous. I originally read the book in minicomics form, photocopied and stapled. It took me a bit by surprise and took a couple pages for me to adjust to the looseness of Alden's art here. After a few moments though, I fell into the piece. Then, in the book’s climax, there was a line spoken and it made me sit back and think: Daaaaaaaaaamn. It was one of those surrealistic moments that actually rings more true than most actual experiences we have. It was something I could get behind, something I could relate to, something I could taste. It was perfect. It held the pain and hope and sadness and desire of a nostalgia for a single memorable event from 20 years ago.

Hawaii 1997 is the superior story in the volume, but Anime (the other story) boast more impressive art. It's a look at a nerd girl and her obsession to the exclusion of reality. I was uncomfortable through the story even while recognizing Alden's massive talent. I'm not sure if the story is actually mean-spirited or if it's just plain impossible to have a story about an obsessed character without painting them in negative light.

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