Reel Love by Owen Michael Johnson: Review
Reel Love is Owen Michael Johnson’s debut semi-biographical graphic novel, published by Unbound. The book was initially crowd-funded and is now in all good bookshops.
The graphic novel opens with our protagonist’s first experience of cinema, and it’s a traumatic one. Overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of the big screen, he leaves in tears. Years later, the excitement of seeing something ground-breaking urges him back to the cinema. Seeing Star Wars changes his life and a passion, a childhood obsession, with cinema is born.
His love for cinema soon leads to him to script-writing and film-making, but during his teenage years, no one quite understands how deeply committed he is to the artforms. Only when he gets a local job at a local independent cinema does he find people that share his love. But no one can stop the passing of time and no one can stay in their favourite first job forever.
Reel Love is Owen Michael Johnson‘s love for cinema is undeniable as it seeps from every page of this book, making it impossible not to get caught up in his passion. I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up in an area with an indie cinema and it’s only in my adulthood that I’ve discovered how great they are and he makes it easy to see how they could’ve influenced and inspired someone growing up.
Even if movies aren’t your thing (you’re a monster, but I’ll let it go), Reel Love captures the life-changing moment when someone finds their niche and meeting other people who feel the same way. Teenage friend groups are arguably the most influential of your life so a story about a character finding a group that not only understands but inspires and supports the character’s passions makes for uplifting reading,
One of the other aspects that I adored was that the narration of the novel is written from the perspective of film itself. For example, it opens with, ‘This is your first memory of dreams in the dark…this is your first memory of me.” It’s an unusual approach and it and grabs your attention immediately.
Overall, Reel Love is a gorgeous tale of self-discovery hidden with a love letter to cinema. The drawing style bursts with energetic passion and the writing is short, sharp and always perfectly constructed to convey as much as possible. If you’re looking for a graphic novel that’s as enjoyable to read as it is full of spirit and warmth, this is it.
If you enjoyed Reel Love by Owen Michael Johnson, you’d love My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris