A month ago I went to a publishing workshop taught by Dylan Williams (of Sparkplug Comics). He showed us a long table covered in comics to illustrate different formats. Dylan always has interesting things to say and I was excited to hear him speak—so it was unfortunate fate placed an advance copy of Tessa Brunton's brilliantly drawn Passage in front of me.
What began as a polite flip-through became an In Your Eyes-style fascinated read. I'm still embarrassed. I can remember hardly any of Dylan's presentation because anything going on in the world around me other than Passage's cast of mid-to late 90's suburban teenagers seemed completely secondary.
"The colors on that cover aren't right," Dylan said, trying to bring me back to reality. "That's just a demo."
"This is so good," I sighed, "Look at these T-shirts."
"Yeah, look at those books behind him," Dylan agreed. I mean, of course he agreed. Sparkplug is the one putting Passage out.
Tessa Brunton is a SF area cartoonist who self-publishes a series called In The Tall Grass, about topics including but not limited to living with the Epstein-Barr virus and fending off home invaders in Piedmont, CA. She also seems to have an almost vise-like grip on turn of the century t-shirt fashion.
Passage tells the tender tale of Brunton's brother's coming of age/manhood ceremony. Bruton's parents have no strong traditional ties and the ceremony is planned utilizing a grab bag of philosophical and religious symbols, much to her brother's horror.
20/20 hindsight vision can be tricky. We look back on our obsessive, dorky childhood thoughts and realize our parents did a good job or a weird job. What's the point of these stories now? The fun now seems to be to relate these stories to one another and to realize, despite the finicky nuances, how very much we have in common. Despite Passage's particular nature, it is a story that's happened to many of us.