Empire State: A Love Story (or Not)

Jason Shiga, Author
Jason Shiga, Abrams ComicArts, $17.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8109-9747-9
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Jimmy's first crush/best friend Sara has moved to New York to encounter the wider world. So Jimmy, a socially awkward man-child who likes reading hard sci-fi (the kind with rocket ships) and has no idea what a latte is, embarks on a perilous bus trip from his home in Oakland to Brooklyn to profess his love to her. He soon learns that the only thing worse than sharing a small bus with random ex-cons comparing notes on their prison experiences is crashing on a couch in a small Brooklyn apartment with Sara and her new boyfriend, Mark. Sara and Mark do their best to welcome Jimmy to the grown-up world, showing him different parts of the city and trying to broaden his limited horizons, but there's a real question as to whether their gentle coaching will take. Shiga (Meanwhile, Double Happiness) walks a fine line between sappy rom-com and maudlin love-lost tale, but largely succeeds in maintaining a balanced middle. He's aided by a crude yet geometric penciling style that draws the reader very effectively into Jimmy's point of view. He also displays a wicked sense of comic timing, which is equally effective at portraying awkward pauses and slapstick physicality. (May)
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