cover image I Am Young

I Am Young

M. Dean. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (108p) ISBN 978-1-68396-139-0

Each story in this poignant debut plays on how music is interwoven with the deeply felt emotions of its young characters, each of whom are poised at tipping points in their lives. The book centers around George and Miriam, who met at a Beatles concert in 1964 and carried on an intense, intermittent, decades-long relationship. Dean’s innovative page layouts and competing narrative perspectives between George and Miriam unfolds the complexity of their relationship and their desperate yearning for a singular, simpler time. George and Miriam are immersed in the popular music of their adolescence, while other era’s characters wrap their identities around the aesthetics of the past. Moving between the U.S. and U.K., stories follow the likes of 1980s teen Alvin, obsessed with Chuck Berry because of his music as well as for what he represents historically and politically. Seventies teen Lisa’s love of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album propels her through an acid trip at prom, with the colors mixing candy-colored psychedelia and more lurid dance-floor lights. Dean provides each teen with a precise voice while charging each narrative with a different visual approach and alternating rich colors and black-and-white. This stunning debut pulls off the rare feat of drawing about music with authenticity and charm. (Nov.)