True Story, Swear To God Issues # 1-17 (Volume 1) and Issues #1-6 (Volume 2)

Writer/Artist/Letterer- Tom Beland

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!! IT’S OCTOBER ALREADY!! it seems like only yesterday that it was still September. Now that it came and went it’s just too surreal. So today with some of the owners of Legends Comics & Games still out of town, this week’s forum was canceled and for me, it was beyond weird to be home so early on a Sunday evening so I would like to take this time to bring back “Review Corner” and instead of reviewing and giving my thoughts on one comic I decided to devote this time to looking back on an ENTIRE series, which is called “True Story, Swear To God” by Tom Beland.

So as I was thinking about Puerto Rico and the devastation that Hurricane Maria caused, it made me think about this series and how the island of Puerto Rico came alive through the eyes of one man and the woman who he met, fell in love and changed his life. That and I’ve been waiting for the change to give my thoughts on this series that I enjoy so much.

The story kicks off with one Mr. Tom Beland, a page designer/cartoonist who works at a local newspaper in his hometown of Napa, California who was sent to go to a cover story on Disneyland and has luck would have it met Lily Garcia, a popular radio personality from San Juan, Puerto Rico to be exact. For me, I loved how Tom & Lily just clicked and some guys might relate to meeting a woman for the first time, introducing themselves and trying very, very hard not to screw things up by saying the wrong thing (I know for a fact that a lot of these elements come into play for me when i meet a woman) plus I thought it was special that Tom himself made a comic detailing their first meeting (He misspelled Lily’s name as “Lili”, adding to the charm that the comic brought with it)

Most of the series’s first volume focuses on Tom’s relationship with his family and his work, notably his friendship with his younger brother Joe and yeah I can totally relate to Tom & Joe’s friendship as I have the same relationship with Nicholas Sinclair as he’s my stepbrother/best friend- but even though her’s my step bro he’s still my brother. We get to see how special Tom & Lily’s relationship began to blossom from Lily visiting Tom in Napa (Tom’s brother Joe is getting married) to how he begins to contemplate moving to San Juan.

But it takes one messed up situation like Lily and her friends and family being caught up with Hurricane Georges (Which impacted Puerto Rico back in 1998) in which Tom decides to move to P.R. to be close to his girlfriend. At first, you’ll be cheering for Tom due to his decision but what was the most heartbreaking of all was reading the scenes in which his family was going to miss him. Once Tom moves to San Juan, you can just feel his frustration from getting a lowball offer from a magazine to do illustrations for them (An $1,800 offer) to dealing with a barking dog. But through it all their relationship flourishes and I definitely love the part where LIly encourages Tom to print his mini-comics (TSSTG started out as some mini-comics) then heads to his first comic convention and even gets to hang out with such comic legends such as Frank Miller, Gene Ha, George Perez, Kurt Busiek and ‘Bone’ creator Jeff Smith at a local bar.

The second series, which moves to Image back in 2006 was a continuation of the first volume featured such stories as Tom dealing with a barking dog (A lingering plot thread from the first series), Lily shaving her head due to learning about detachment (She’s a Buddist) to Tom & Lily’s trip to New York City and while many of us know NYC due to the coffee house from “Friends”, the diner from “Seinfeld” or getting the chance to see Jay Z in public. For Tom and comic geeks like myself, it’s where Spider-Man lives and I just enjoyed the part of how Tom explains how Spidey played a huge role in his life as a kid which was very heartwarming.

So thanks to this title, I did get to see the beauty of Puerto Rico due to Beland’s story and artwork which as a very eloquent and animated feel to it and I am praying for P.R. to come back strong as ever, i learned a couple of things through this series, such as how an island will adopt anyone who moves there with open arms and to always go into any situation with an open mind, especially when you uplift your life by moving somewhere different and most importantly, listening to our hearts when it comes to love because if we love someone, then we have to be ready to face any new challenges that come with being in a relationship. So thank you, Mr. Beland, for sharing this part of your life with us through a comic book series.

Oh yeah, in the first series Tom bring up how his younger brother.best friend Joe was always his hero. And I’m proud to say that I also have that in Nicholas Sinclair, as he’s always been my personal hero (And he didn’t need to be bitten by a radioactive spider or be a strange visitor from another planet to do so)

And I’ll see Bill, Kris Iwamoto and the rest of the gang at Legends Comics & Games back next week for the forum.

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True Story, Swear To God Issues # 1-17 (Volume 1) and Issues #1-6 (Volume 2) Writer/Artist/Letterer- Tom Beland CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!! IT'S OCTOBER ALREADY!! it seems like only yesterday that it was still September. Now that it came and went it's just too surreal. So today with some of the owners...