The thing about indie comics or really comics in general is that each one is a labor of love. Someone put their heart and soul into making the comic and so when you read it and find it to be bad or worse… terrible, it’s hard to just dismiss their work. Put at the end of the day a bad comic is a bad comic and to just avoid reviewing bad comics because creators put their heart and soul into it, isn’t going to help them and certainly isn’t going to help anyone that may pick the book up. Because the thing is, what’s bad to me is not bad to everyone else. Trust me on that one because there are many comic books that I find to be intolerable messes that are widely loved and approved each and every month. Keep that in mind when I tell you that Happy Anniversary, My Beloved is a bad comic… to me. Because you could like it. I could tell you something that you’ll be curious about or maybe it just won’t sound that bad by the time I’m done.
The one-shot kicks off with a couple in a park in the center of town. A husband and wife are sitting on a bench and the husband informs his wife that it’s time. Time to apparently explain in great detail how they ended up being together.
The story then back tracks as we see the husband being found “not guilty” in the court of law. After a great deal of exposition we learn that the judge basically favored the husband and for some reason was able to overturn any wrong doing which we’ll find out later is complete bullshit. The gist is that the man pressing charges against the husband (didn’t catch his name and it didn’t seem important) had planned for many years to kill him and take his fortune that he made from being a doctor and coming from a rich family. The wife it seems was in on the plan and was actually in love with the accuser and went along with the plan because she wanted the money as well. There’s twists, there’s turns… there’s nothing really clever about the story and the shocking ending really hammers home how bad the story is and the fact that criminal laws are being completely ignored in this story.
I won’t tell you the twist, but I will say that the husband does something that would never just be overruled in court. With the husband telling us this story we’re supposed to get the impression that he’s a smooth talker and talked his way out of it, but then we’re being told the same story… and it’s not smooth. It’s not good. In fact the husband kind of comes off like a dick so why would you root for him? Not that the other characters are any better, in fact I would say that none of the characters are likeable; not even the minor characters that only show up for a panel or two.
The story thinks its clever. It thinks that it’s making the husband clever and so when he goes to explain his plan you’re left with a big, “that’s it?” It didn’t take a genius to come up with his plan. In fact any borderline nutjob could come up with the same plan in about twenty minutes, yet our main character thinks about this and plans it for years. Frankly it fails to explain how he got away with his plan and just comes across as convenient and strange writing.
The stories ending is disturbing. How he treats women is disturbing. In fact all of it comes across as a man that’s been cheated on had his heartbroken too many times and indulged some darker thoughts that perhaps would have been better off left at the bottom of a bottle rather than a comic. Not saying that’s the actual case here, but that’s what it comes off as.
The art is the only shining light of this comics. The art has a wonderful style and while the narration does more to tell us the story than the art does to show it, it’s still good. It’s cartoony and for sure and if the story was better and maybe not so creepy, the contrast in the subject matter and the art would actually work. Along with that the coloring is solid as well. It’s kept simple in that most pages only have two or three colors. It works and again gives it a distinct look.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe others will read this story and see a dark comedy playing out before them. For me. I think it’s a failed attempt at humor that ends up coming across as disturbing rather than anything close to comedy. Decide for yourself though.
Happy Anniversary, My Beloved Writer/Artist: Brão Barbosa Translation: Patrick Lima Format: One-Shot; Digital