Room For Love

Room For Love by Ilya
Room For Love by Ilya

Title: Room For Love
Writer/Artist: ILYA
Publisher: SelfMadeHero
Why? Read for Comix Experience‘s new graphic novel club
Keywords: Indy comics, romance is dead, not your typical girl-meets-boy story, messed up Tramps Like Us manga

Like most women, I enjoy me a nice romance story. Opposites attracting is one of the flavors I like to indulge in, but this comic kind of takes the cake. Meet Pam and “Cougar”, 2 individuals who couldn’t be any more different.

Pam is a middle-aged once popular romance writer who is now at a creative rut due to lack of inspiration. “Cougar” is a boy who runs away from his hometown in Ireland to London and survives by being a rent boy. Due to an error of mistaken suicide, Pam calls the police when she sees Cougar “jump” from the bridge, though all he was doing was go to his hidey hole he was living in at the time. The cops put him in jail, and as a way to make it up to him, Pam lets him stay at her place. She takes care of him, he takes care of her loneliness and possibly motivated her to write again. Thus starts the most odd, complicated relationship I’ve ever read. Pam doesn’t realize Cougar’s a rent boy, and a gay one at that until near the end of the book. Cougar’s a douchebag, mostly from a messed up past, but he does show little glimmers of appreciation towards Pam. I feel how much he struggles with how nice she is towards him and can see the suspicion in his expressions as he wonders why she isn’t asking for more. The clashes between the two comes from not only their age difference, but their life experience. Once she discovers Cougar’s true story, she tells him to learn to love himself, otherwise he wouldn’t accept love from others. The story ends with Cougar going back to Ireland to come out to his parents.

I’m….not sure how I feel about this. Maybe I like my endings with a bit more…resolve? A more…clear ending? Cougar, or Francis/Frank definitely had one and in my eyes its a hopeful open end because despite the hint that his parents will not approve at all,  coming out to his parents is a step forward of accepting and loving himself. On the other hand, I did not feel any resolve from Pam’s end at all. Is her ending considered complete because she finally got some stuff to write about because she had sexual relations with an underage rent boy? Is her role to take in pets/strays? Her cat “leaves” as the story begins and when she meets Frank, and comes back right at the end when he disappears (after she takes him to the hospital for his appendix bursting, with a blank note left on the hospital table. Awesome). I just didn’t feel satisfied.

Aside, for those in the SF/Bay Area, this read is the first graphic novel picked for Comix Experience’s newly established Graphic Novel Club. The first official meeting is this Wednesday, 7/29, but I’m hoping good things from this. I really dig that this GN Club is aiming for independent, hopefully local stories.

The art style reflects the love weary protagonists. Though I didn’t really dig the art itself, the color identification for the 2 characters I enjoyed. Light brown and blue is essentially all you’ll see in this GN.

Verdict?

The difficult and complicated relationships between Pam and Frank and the supporting characters in their lives feel real and tugged my heart a bit during my read (and how messed up people can be). But my dissatisfaction with Pam’s side of her story and actually trying to find the “love” in this GN left me bummed. In the end, although it’s not my cup of tea, I am glad I read it. I think it’s cool that a complicated story like Room For Love can be told in a graphic novel form and is good proof that graphic novels should be a more appreciated medium for story-telling.

Romance is dead. – Pamela

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