Written by: Alejandro Rodriguez, Special to CC2K
It’s never easy moving to another state. You eventually lose touch with friends and family members who you thought you’d always be with. However, you begin to find yourself meeting new people and trying new things that you never thought you would do. You begin to grow as an adult. All of this and more is explored in Ramsey Beyer’s Year One, a collection of weekly comics that follows her during her first year living in Philadelphia.
During her journey (None of which includes dressing up like a bat and stopping the criminal underworld.) Beyer, with the assistance of her dog Rover, steadily begin to grow and mature while still being uncertain of what lay ahead of them. Confusion and doubt set in early in Beyer’s stay, but she eventually becomes comfortable with the locale and begins to make new friends.
Like with many auto-biographical comics, Year One contains a lot of minutiae that may not hook your average super hero comic book fan. There isn’t a lot of action in the comic and any action that may be in there ends quite quickly. However, for those who aren’t anticipating an action packed comic where Beyer faces off against her nemesis, you’ll find a charming story that deals with loneliness, indecisiveness about love, and doubt about one’s future.
Beyer’s art style is rather gorgeous. While it’s typical of indie comic artists to use only black and white for their comics, Ramsey’s artwork perfectly compliments this style. While it would be presumptuous to call her artwork simple, it does look a tad more basic than the comic book art that most people are used to. Anyone who stops to enjoy the art will find some rather beautiful scenes in the comic that embrace the simple form of black and white and do something great with them.
One scene in particular only has Beyer and her friend/love-interest, Daniel Shea, in a single black circle in the middle of a page with only one word bubble popping up. Instead of convoluting her work Ramsey has decided to make her comics quicker and more to the point.
While Year One is good, it loses something due to its practice of being a weekly comic. It’s a surprise that Beyer rarely reveals anything about her work, it would have been nice to see what sort of things would happen to her as a nanny. Perhaps she left this out because she felt that writing comics about her work would be too mundane, but you ultimately get to know very little about what she does as an occupation.
Other things like falling for two different men at the same time and visiting family members sort of get rushed and you don’t get to feel as emotionally attached to Beyer’s journey as you would if she were to go into more detail with what was going on during her first year in Philadelphia.
The gimmick of one comic a week is interesting in practice and there are enough small things like hanging out with friends at a lake and going to shows that can make readers think that they’re going through the same little things in life that Beyer went through. However with stories dealing with love and loneliness, it feels like there was a lot of potential story lines that could have been covered in Year One that would have made it a top notch read, but they get looked over because of the practice of making only one comic a week.
That’s not say that Year One isn’t a good comic book. Year One’s style is easily accessible for someone who is just entering the world of indie comics for the first time, but veterans may find themselves going over the comic in one night.