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Buy at Amazon (despite what you might see there, the book is available).
A 130-page graphic novel, Poison Press, 2009.

Category: humor, slice-of-life.

Author(s): Tim Fish.

James Michael and Terry

Tim Fish's latest graphic novel manages to be both a sequel and a departure from previous works.
A sequel, because the two main characters are James Michael Chase and Terry, who met in the previous book Love Is The Reason; and a departure, because this time, we get one, long story, instead of the four shorter ones in Love. And while Trust/Truth can be enjoyed without any knowledge of what's happened before, it works even better as a sequel.

James Michael and Terry are a couple who behave like a pair of twin suns revolving around each other...but that doesn't prevent James Michael from lying through his teeth to his partner about various business trips which turn out to be time spent in the arms of other hunks. Nothing very original, one might say. But then, James Michael comes across something that makes him believe he's not the only one getting it on the side, and when Terry refuses to confirm or deny, James Michael finds he stand the uncertainty. Will The Perfect Couple resist the centrifugal forces?
The central section of the book has each of the two guys meet someone else. Terry meets Douglas, a nice but not very exciting man, while James Michael falls under the influence of Lars, the über-controller boyfriend whom readers of the previous graphic novels will recognize. But the feelings of the ex-lovers run deep, and things can't be as simple as "let's be friends".

With this book, Tim Fish has given us the closest thing to romantic comedy he's written with the Cavalcade of Boys characters. James Michael and Terry dance a very slow waltz, together at first, with another partner for a while...and you'll have to read the book to see what happens then. The main allure of the book for me was not the plot itself, which is not unpredictable, but the portrayal of the main characters. They're neither really nice guys nor complete assholes, they just don't know exactly what they want, and are not ready to make some sacrifices to get it. One might say they need to grow up a bit.
While the title gives a good indication of the themes of the book, the general tone is lighter than in the previous stories. It did remind me of good indie gay films, with insufferable but likable characters trying to find their way through the maze of love and relationships. If that doesn't sound too cliché...

Another big difference with previous Fish works is the all-in-color art, with another artist coming in to do some of the color art. As much as I like Fish's black and white art, I must admit that does bring a lot of atmosphere to the book. As with Love is the Reason, the narration is also carefully thought through: open pages with one or two panels are used for chapter breaks (one is even a beefcake shot, proving that Fish knows his readers), while other pages are dense and lively. It sounds simple, but it is used very effectively and makes the story breathe far more than with a constant, regular grid.
One last cool thing about the book: the (very) short stories included as a bonus, one being from the Boy Trouble anthology.

I don't know where Tim Fish will go next, but with Trust/Truth, he proves that he's willing to never repeat himself, creating stories in a variety of formats which, with every new book, expand on what he's done before. And I can say I'm still completely hooked on his theatre of human frailties.

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