Lisa Maas, 200 pgs, Arsenal Pulp Press, arsenalpulp.com, $21.95
Sex, dating, and those first kiss butterflies in your stomach are all things that are for young, straight people only — or at least that’s what a lot of pop culture would have us believe. Forward, the new graphic novel from writer and artist Lisa Maas, challenges those assumptions with a moving and lushly illustrated story about two 40-something lesbians struggling to find fulfilling connections in BC.
Maas writes characters who are living, breathing human beings, and it’s a pleasure to read her snappy dialogue. Rayanne, a woman with a successful career but a less-than-successful love life, resists being set up by her friends and coworkers, but longs for someone to share her life with. Meanwhile, Ali is emerging from the fog of having recently lost her wife, and is unsure of how best to move on — if at all. Moments of quiet lust, loneliness, and alienation are all captured in ways that make Ali and Rayanne feel familiar, making their journeys navigating their lives all the more compelling.
Maas’s art is first pencilled and then inked and painted, and her eye for colours is keen. Every scene feels intimate, and Maas does an exceptional job of capturing the mood of each little moment. Though it can be difficult at times to differentiate between Maas’s faces — many of the characters share similar features and haircuts — it rarely has an effect on the impact of the scenes, and it’s a joy to look at.
The strength of Forward is its ability to make characters who do not normally find themselves in the spotlight feel like old friends or family. Most people have found themselves lonely at some point in their lives; Forward is a good reminder that we’re all in this together. (Kris Bone)