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No Place Like Home: Nothing Better Volume 1    by Tyler M. Page order for
No Place Like Home
by Tyler M. Page
Order:  USA  Can
Dementian Comics, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

The fall brings not only cooling weather, but for many young adults, a brand new experience. Finding themselves without direct parental guidance, these aspiring students cohabitate in dormitory halls, engaging both a new world of academia and the social life that accompanies a parent-free abode. Enter Jane, an aspiring biologist whose attendance at a Lutheran college opens her eyes and challenges many of her preconceived notions. Most challenging to her mildly conservative disposition is her free-spirited roommate Katt. Both have much to learn about the world and about themselves - through each other, they begin to walk that path.

Page impressively depicts the collegial experience in its many nuanced forms. The quarrels, the bonding, the gossip, the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll - sometimes, all in the same evening - are presented, not in the over-the-top fashion idolized in American comedies every year, but in a much more subdued and realistic model. His story may contain some stereotypes, but they are not so hackneyed as to make one's eyes roll.

The most compelling theme of the story is faith, which is not to say this is a book preaching about God. Rather, Page presents both Jane and Katt with different understandings about their relationship to the spiritual world. Jane, the more conservative of the pair, unquestioningly accepts God's presence, while Katt's absolute belief in nothing helps define her rather unorthodox lifestyle. This proves a source of tension between the two, but also causes each of them to grow and give further consideration to their own understanding of faith.

In trying to authentically depict life, Page does wonders with two particular items. First, his dialogue flows smoothly and often genuinely reflects those many fledgling conversations, discussions and debates among students emerging onto the college scene. None of his characters deliver well-articulated speeches, but rather there's an ongoing back and forth repartee or rhythm, depending upon the characteristics of those involved.

The second part that Page executes well is his depiction of life moments. Whether the awkwardness between the crushed male and an uninterested female, the loneliness of an empty room, or the growing tension between two people, Page's art captures these moments in sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant ways. More so with Katt than Jane, he is apt to be overdramatic in his drawing reactions (eyes' bulging beyond their sockets, or a grin from ear to ear), particularly with moments of shock or excitement, whereas when it comes to more darker and somber emotions, his art reveals more realistic expressions and gestures.

Many will pick up this graphic novel and be able to instantly identify with elements of the story. Most will fall somewhere between the two extreme characters and be able to find their growth both entertaining and genuine. Many high school students could benefit from this well-delivered tale about life at college.

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