TJ and Amal

TJ and Amal

I discovered The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal while searching for webcomics about fantasy-adventure last week, and made a note to come back and really dive in. And I’m so glad I did. The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal is probably one of the best comics I’ve ever read – web or otherwise. The story follows Amal, a gay Indian-American, who calls off his arranged marriage and is then disowned after coming out to his parents. He decides to set out on a road trip from California to see his sister graduate from Brown. Along the way he picks up TJ, who offers to pay for everything during their trip to Providence, Rhode Island.

There are so many wonderful things about TJ and Amal :

TJ and Amal

TJ and Amal

- The art is definitely some of the best I’ve seen in a webcomic. Certain chapters are done in full color and have completely blown me away. But even the typical black and white is breathtaking. E.K. Weaver’s work is in such meticulous detail, you feel like you’re visiting all the same places TJ and Amal travel to. Between the buildings, the sprawling trees, and even Amal’s iPod – everything just feels real. Even the lettering is pure perfection – better than some of the stuff I’ve seen in comics at my LCS. It’s obvious that not only is Weaver’s imagination rich, but she puts a lot of thought into her work.

- The dialogue and the characterization is grounded and organic. Reading through the various exchanges between not just TJ and Amal, but everyone coaxed me into the story; the way people talk to each other was fluid and realistic. Often times I come across comics where the dialogue sounds forced, like it’s not the way people would actually speak to each other. And since dialogue is such an integral aspect of characterization, Weaver’s dialogue helps provide depth to her characters.

Often times, I feel like stories about real life are difficult to create because in some ways, nothing is happening. There’s no great prophecy to fulfill, no lost treasure to be found and no one is being tracked down by a legendary villain – it’s just about normal people, doing normal things. And Weaver’s story captures the sheer normalcy of life: the way Amal cringes at a potential racist encounter in a Waffle House, the bond between two people that often leads to sex, or pulling over to the side of the road to stare at a star-filled sky.

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal is truly a fantastic webcomic and I highly recommend it.