Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #113: A Get Together
Some of the most popular manga are what is known as “slice-of-life” series. They are, as the name implies, series about the main characters’ lives and the various hijinks that permeate them. As stories, they’re meant to let the reader relax and lose themselves in the lives of characters that aren’t completely unlike them. And for the longest time, we didn’t really have serials like that in Western comics. There are many graphic novels that deal with mundanities of life, but those were always relegated to the single volume format. At least until Sina Grace, Omar Spahi, Mx. Struble, and Jenny D. Fine brought us their new series last year, Getting it Together.
Getting it Together has that distinct American sitcom feeling to it—a large cast of characters that all know each other, multiple plot lines that diverge and intersect, and a relationship dissolving as a catalyst for major character growth. The story itself centers on Lauren, ex-boyfriend of Sam and brother to Sam’s best friend, Jack. Jack is also the biggest fan of Lauren’s indie band, Nipslip, which is on the verge of implosion as Lauren and guitarist, Ashton, have slept together. The story spirals out of there with Nipslip’s members at each other’s throats, Jack becoming addicted to dating apps for validation, and Sam becoming increasingly despondent over his break-up with Lauren. In short, there’s quite a bit of mess coming from the group of friends.
What really makes Getting it Together such a fascinating story is how how Grace, Spahi, Fine, and Struble approach it. At no point does this feel like an exploitative look at other people’s lives—the story comes together like piecing together friend’s social media feeds and second-hand gossip in the best way. You crave the drama of people falling apart, but you want to keep an arm’s length from their mess. But at least this is the kind of story where the characters can come to the conclusion of an arc—Lauren begins her solo career, Sam moves in with Jack, and Jack stops trawling dating apps for quick hook-ups. While it is cathartic to witness a mess every once in a while, it’s also nice to see tangible growth at the end to let you know that there’s still some hope when friend groups begin to collapse.
As of right now, there aren’t many stories like Getting it Together coming from any of the major monthly publishers. At four issues, it’s a relatively quick read, but it’s still dense with character and pitch-perfect dialog throughout. It is the kind of series where you finish it and wonder why there aren’t at least a dozen longer running series taking this same approach to more grounded stories. People do love reading about heroes and fantasies, but sometimes we just want to sit down and read about a group of imploding friends. You know, for the fun of it.
Get excited. Get together.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.