Retrofit Comics published a magazine-sized comic book presenting 34 pages of a Box Brown story called “Beach Girls,” and 10 pages of a James Kochalka short called “Dweeb.” The book gives off that retro feel of underground comics from the 80′s through 90′s, with that newspaper-feel page and large-sized panels and print. It’s also a solid introduction to two of the best independant comic book authors of today and a pair of great stories. So obviously, it’s a no-brainer how I feel about this comic book.
Box Brown‘s “Beach Girls,” follows a girl named Pheobe and her summer spent with two of her best friends. While she continuously feels she doesn’t belong near her two attractive friends, she tries enjoying her summer by pursuing what her two friends seemingly don’t want to. On that path to total summer freedom, she meets a local surfer named Hank who also feels inadequate for different means — he’s a surfer who does the same cut and paste routine every day and is tired of summers spent with privileged blondes who trash up the beach and buy worthless shell necklaces.
Typically, what would happen next is a cliche love story where Pheobe and Hank fall in love together for a summer and things end up bittersweet as they part ways. Thanks to Box Brown‘s terrific storytelling, this doesn’t happen. What happens is the two learn life lessons from each other. The two meet a certain midpoint and understanding, a mutual bond in compliance of how things are for the summer and how they changed each other’s summer experiences. It’s a truly interesting tale without any predictable paths taken, terrifically told by Box Brown and executed with a smart style.
Then James Kochalka pitches in his 10-paged short called “Dweeb,” revolving around a pair of mushrooms who stumble upon a passed-out girl. It’s cute, like most of Kochalka‘s work, and it’s effective. Thoughtful, yet completely simple.
“Dweeb,” is pretty much the sweet, sweet icing to that cake Box Brown created. James Kochalka and Box Brown use similar bold black lines for smooth inking of their characters and pace themselves in similar ways, so there’s no miss-match here. “Dweeb,” never felt like it was tacked on and “Beach Girls,” doesn’t feel any less fitting in this comic pairing. A great comic book featuring two superb illustrators from this generation of independent artists, I highly recommend grabbing “Beach Girls,” from Retrofit Comics.