Épilogue from Dude What? Comics is the story of two lovers, separated by ten years, accidentally bumping into each other in a French train station. Told largely in flashbacks, the book itself is flipped; when you read to the end of Natalie’s story, you flip the book over and read the same encounter from Garan’s point of view. David Ganjamie illustrates the sequences in the present, Ashley St. Lawrence illustrates all the flashbacks from Natalie’s point of view as well as the covers, and Nathan Schreiber illustrates the flashbacks from Garan’s point of view. The story is touching. Mario Candelaria’s script perfectly captures the awkwardness and beauty of running into an old flame when the past is truly past—Natalie and Garan both have other lives that they’re happy (or not happy, sometimes) with, but there’s still the temptation to throw it all away and start again with this person from their past. It’s a universal feeling, and getting to see both sides of it in flashback is a neat narrative sleight of hand. The downside of it is that by the middle of Garan’s story, I was skimming the present tense stuff—the context hadn’t changed the lines much, so I was skipping ahead to the flashbacks. The flashbacks to Garan don’t add as much as the flashbacks to Natalie, for somewhat obvious reasons, but they both enrich an already full script.
My only problem with the story is that the present sequence exists only to set up the flashbacks. Those are the parts of the story where the wants and needs of the characters are clear, and knowing that one of the characters has been married for a while deflates the inherent will-they-won’t-they tension of the chance meeting in the city of romance. This isn’t a huge problem, seeing that this is more of a character piece than a plot piece on all fronts, it’s just something that nagged at me.
David Ganjamie’s illustration on the present sequences is a great thread to follow through. Even when the script repeats beats, he chooses new angles that keep the eye engaged, and his style of inking is so spot-on, it makes the story feel glamorous, even if it’s just two people on a grimy train platform. He also has an incredible skill at perspective, beginning Garan’s story with a hell of an architectural shot. Ashley St. Lawrence’s flashbacks feel of-a-piece with Ganjamie’s art, and her graytones add a depth to the pieces, as well as making them feel a little nostalgie. Nathan Schreiber’s pieces for Garan have a strong sense of atmosphere and tone, but there are occasionally wonky pieces of anatomy that he struggles with that pull me out of the comic.
Épilogue is a nice way to handle the romance genre in a day and age that is a bit jaded by it. It’s nice to see whose lives have worked out well in the aftermath and whose lives are a little jumbled, still. Definitely check this one out.
Épilogue Writer: Mario Candelaria Artists: David Ganjamie, Ashley St. Lawrence (Natalie flashbacks), Nathan Schreiber (Garan flashbacks) Letterer: Zakk Saam Publisher: Dude What? Comics Format: One-Shot; Digital