Teen angst poster girl Ariel Schrag returns with her new comic, LIKEWISE, the sequel to the popular POTENTIAL.
This new series is an autobiographical document of Ariel’s senior year in high school. Her girlfriend Sally has gone off to college and although Ariel has been seeing someone new, her heart is still deeply obsessed with her “one and only.” Sally appears in a couple flashback panels, but her presence permeates every page.
I only partially remember the few issues of POTENTIAL that I read, but I seem to recall that Sally wasn’t so hot of a girlfriend and that Ariel only seemed to become more infatuated with her the more Sally kept pushing her away. Sally was also prone to bizarre outbursts like “I’m not a dyke.” Ok, thanks, but could she now please at least move her tongue out of Ariel’s hole and onto her clit?
Like Ariel’s previous work, LIKEWISE is shockingly revealing, although I probably could have done with one less sequence of her taking a piss. But then again, I’m probably not the book’s target audience.
This first issue is broken up into two chapters. “Chapter One” sets up Ariel’s preoccupation with Sally very nicely, so that one doesn’t necessarily have to have read POTENTIAL to follow the action this time out. We also get to see Ariel treat her new romantic interest, Mabel, somewhat badly. Breaking up with Mabel, Ariel is shocked that the other girl would actually cry over the incident.
“Chapter Two” includes a lengthy sequence of Ariel and a few of her female friends — all straight I’m assuming, either way it doesn’t matter — having a deep philosophical discussion about the elusive nature of “It.” What is “It”? Well, the girls aren’t sure, so that’s what they spend an afternoon trying to figure out. As my interpretation, “It” is a special ability that only a few people have to understand society from an artistic, outsider perspective.
However, Ariel and her friends have such a meaningful talk that one of the girls decides to tape record their bull session. The sequence smacked of me of a moment in one’s youth when one thinks he or she is being brilliant, but is actually forming what will only be one day, when recalled later in life, an uncomfortable moment of naivety. This is not an insult to Ariel or her friends and I speak of such a thing only from the subjective position of a cranky 33-year-old with a treasure trove of uncomfortable recollections floating around my head. It’s a necessary step to take in, well, in developing “It.” Yes, I will be brazen enough to presuppose that I have “It.”
The two chapters of LIKEWISE are also marked by a very noticeable shift in artistic style. “Chapter Two” is much more detailed and ambitious, particularly in the delineation of the backgrounds and especially noticeable during the “It” discussion in the backyard garden. It’s extremely interesting to see a young artist grow into her style, especially within the confines of one issue.
In the inside cover, Ariel states LIKEWISE will be a 378-page document, all of which have apparently been penciled and are waiting to be inked by herself. This first installment is 38 pages and the rest of them will be released over the course of seven more issues. I assume that the entire book will then be collected into one graphic novel volume. I like buying individual comics, so I’ll probably be reading them as they come out, the next one hopefully being published in April 2003.