So, it seemed rather ironic that, just as artist Emma Vieceli was announcing that it was the second birthday of hers and Malin Ryden's webcomic Breaks, I was just finishing up reading it (well, up to date anyway). It was this irony made me decide to write this.
Breaks is different to my usual kinds of reads in that it isn't a superhero comic or something action packed, but is instead a much more charming kind of story. It is a coming of age story revolving primarily around Cortland Hunt and Ian Tanner, two schoolboy who despite having something of a bitter rivalry with each other, begin to develop a emotional connection while also dealing with their own ongoing problems.
To be fair, I'm probably simplifying this way too much because, despite how it sounds, I think Breaks is an incredibly complex and compelling piece of fiction. Writer Malin Ryden seems to have an incredible grasp of producing in depth, realistic teenage voices in her characters who, are so multi-faceted it is almost impossible not to empathise with them (except maybe Spence, because I think he's just a dick).
Of course, I can't ignore Emma Veiceli's art because I think her soft pencils are such a defining factor as to what makes this webcomic such an addictive read that to downplay them as anything less than equal in importance to the writing would be criminal.
Not since Alex + Ada have I read anything so emotional, but to say Breaks is 'just a love story' is an unbelievably ignorant understatement. To me, Breaks is a definitive coming of age stories as it shows its lead characters facing some real turmoil in battling the demons of their respective pasts. This is especially apparent to me in Cortland, whose temperament, social standing and cynical attitude remind me of my own at a similar. Based on that alone I'd have said this is a story which focuses equally on some mental health aspects as well as same sex love.
And, having ignored that point thus far, the focus on a same sex relationship is, quite possibly, the major factor in my thinking that this is an essential read and not because it is included but because of what it means. For me, this is a story about being yourself, not being afraid of your peers/society's thoughts of you and being strong enough to get back up when you are put down.
And as a sufferer of depression, those are certainly themes I like to read.
So, in the end, I enjoyed breaks, which I thought I would. But I can't believe how much I enjoyed it and now I hope that, if the first two years are anything to go by, Breaks will still be going in two more. This is an essential read in my book and hope my kids can read it when they are a bit older.