3 out of 5
Some of this was previously released as the single issue of Miriam, and some of the remainder presumably would have appeared in Miriam issue 2, had that ever happened. The front page also calls this collection ‘Book One,’ suggesting that the scattered adventures of the bitchy Pete and the submissive Miriam could probably have continued to populate Tommaso’s thoughts and pages…
Which would have been (or would be) nice. The characters fit pretty perfectly into Rich’s slice-of-slightly-horrifying-life works, and would have benefited from extending their timelines further into their young adult lives… This first collection bounces back and forth between Pete’s Russ Meyer project for a college film class and the duo growing up as friends, particularly highlighting various Halloweens o’er the years, and while I’m used to Rich’s open-ended sense of storytelling, the fact that there’s a light structure here – present day, then the past, present day, then past – with some details dotted in about Pete’s relationships and Miriam’s cursh on him ends up giving the strips a sense of ongoing narrative that, y’know, doesn’t end up going anywhere. The film school thread leads into a war flashback, and Miriam’s mixed-up feelings percolate into a meeting of all of Pete’s exes and crushes, and then the book ends. It’s really fun stuff, as Rich writes in such a comfortably recognizable fashion, with his Schulz-y kids and Tintin adults making for a lovably lively looking cast of kinda outcasts, but the half-in / half-out progress of the story – while acknowledging that such a “story” was likely never the real intention – is ultimately disappointing.
Definitely a worthwhile addition to a Tommaso library, it just needs a Book Two and Three to allow us to fully warm up to these two.