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Long Hot Summer
Review by David E. Miller

Story
Long Hot Summer

Story
Eric Stephenson
 
art
Jamie McKelvie
 
Designer
Laurenn McCubbin
 
Letters
Jamie McKelvie

Publisher
Image Comics
 
Format
Softcover Original
 
Publish Date
September 28, 2005
 
Cover Price
$7.99
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Image has the right idea with the concept for Long Hot Summer. This original graphic novel is the size of manga, 76-pages, and a decent little story about a love triangle that wraps itself up over one summer. Apparently, the two main characters, Ken and Steve, are ensconced in a peer group that fashions themselves after ‘mods’ from London in the sixties. They wear Fred Perry shirts, drive scooters, and hang around at a funky dance club called Grand Central Station adjacent to a diner (‘Peach Pit’ and ‘Peach Pit After Dark’ anyone?).

Ken, to quote Young MC, "got no money and you got no car then you got no woman and there you are." Steve has money, a job at a hip retail outlet, and absolutely has a car. But somehow Ken strikes up a conversation with a new girl in town who is working at the local bookstore. Ashley, who in certain panels looks like Caroline from "Sixteen Candles," is out of Ken's league but is playing him until something better comes along. Who could that possibly be?

There are several other minor characters in the story and many people from the group who are mentioned, but the story is too short and centered to keep track of everyone else anyway. The length hampers the plausibility of the social group. Besides the three main characters, everyone else serves as window dressing. Due to the length of the story and the focus on the main characters, the breadth of the story suffocates. The main characters relationships with other characters seem rather forced and contrived. The fact that these people are part of anything other than themselves seems insignificant to the story. Therefore, the fact that it takes place in “Hollywood” or that they are all “mods” is completely irrelevant. The story would have worked just as well had it taken place on a deserted island. However, the central characters are well done and the story feels true to life.

Art
The black and white artwork is excellent. Jamie McKelvie reminds me of Chris Samnee, another young and competent new artist. The characters look and feel very real and many subtle nuances in body language and facial expressions are expertly rendered. Apparently, a designer was also used to capture the stylized world that Eric Stephenson wanted to create. In that endeavor, Laurenn McCubbin handled things beautifully. Before opening the first page, the book gave an accurate sense of the world the characters inhabited.
Final Words

Having lived in LA and been both Ken and Steve at different times of my life I could certainly relate to this story of post-college relationships. No one takes anything really seriously in matters of the heart, but peoples’ egos and hearts get broken, nonetheless. Girls lead on and then dispose of the ‘good guy’ to get hurt by the ‘bad boy.’ ‘Good guys’ think they alone see how ‘special’ the girl is that gets hurt by the ‘bad boy,’ and the ‘bad boy’ is more confused and lonely than anyone ever realizes. To quote Chris Rock, "Ain’t nobody happy nowhere." But I disagree with Kens’ assertion in the end that it was a waste of a summer. It is through these trials that people mature and grow so that they know what to do once they actually do meet ‘the right person.’ It may have been a long hot summer, but it’s a hard knock life.

Mildly Recommended


David E. Miller (email) has been involved in the comic book industry for almost 20 years. He started out attending Serendipity Comic Book Conventions in Suburban Philly and befriending top independent creators like Reggie Byers (Shuriken for Comico). He parlayed his industry expertise into recruiting the Honorary Board for the New York City Comic Book Museum. His highest related achievement was sitting down with Stan Lee in his studio office for an hour talking history. His lowest was selling off most of his collection in High School.
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