Loved & Lost is a graphic novel anthology that shares a variety of perspectives on a subject near and dear to all of our hearts: romantic love. Portland author Tyler Chin-Tanner, best known for titles like American Terrorist and Adrenaline, gives the reader a softer, though not necessarily gentler, view of the world of romance through a series of short stories featuring a surprisingly diverse cast of strangers.
We start with a simple first date story that brings to light the ways technology has changed how we communicate, connect, and potentially fall in love. From there we are whisked to a jungle country to watch a young, though not necessarily wise relationship, take form. The stories that follow take us all over the love-spectrum, though the flavor is distinctly American. We watch as a myriad of amorous relationships blossom, bloom, or wilt. A broken-hearted lesbian and her best friend wax nostalgic, a husband plays a dangerous game with hilarious results, and other assorted strangers young and old (but mostly young) all try to make sense of love, the most nonsensical thing of all.
I found these stories relatable (and sometimes gut-punching) on many levels. The art for each story is different and exquisite; in one case it successfully replaces the dialogue almost entirely. The characters go beyond the usual romantic character tropes like “the manic pixie dream girl” or “He-man woman hater.” With very little imagination, I could see myself in each character regardless of gender or orientation. I was often moved, reacting viscerally to each story – laughing out loud when love won the day, or sighing in relief as I realized I would never again have to suffer the foolishness of a failed first date.
Although the stories primarily feature hetero relationships, it was delightful to see a diversity in the characters, which includes an LGBT character, a portly couple, and more people of color than I’m used to seeing in any independent graphic novel. There’s also a noticeable variety of genres in these stories – modern contemporary, sci-fi, slice of life, 50s soap opera. Loved & Lost offers enough flavors for a reader with any level of experience in romance to enjoy. These are not all typical “girly” romances.
Not every story was agreeable, but each one was memorable. If you’re looking to add an engaging, quick, and satisfying indie read to your graphic novel library, “Loved & Lost” is genuinely worthy title.
Warning: this book contains some nudity (male & female)