The World We Used To Know — And The One We Have Now : Kyle Bravo’s “Forever And Everything” #s 6 & 7

I’ve sung the praises of Louisiana cartoonist Kyle Bravo’s unassuming (and, crucially, unforced) self-published autobio series Forever And Everything in the past — and will no doubt feel suitably compelled to do so again — but reading his two latest issues, numbers six and seven, back-to-back in one sitting is a quietly powerful experience the likes of which few things can really compare to. Which is ironic (sorry), of course, because I get the impression such was hardly Bravo’s intention when he created them.

Still, we live in (are coming out of?) unprecedented times, as the entirely accurate cliche goes, and as such intention can have little if anything to do with how a work is received — which, I suppose, is always true, but is doubly (at least) so nowadays. All of which is my roundabout (to put it far too kindly) way of saying that we are talking about one pre-pandemic comic here, and one set in the earliest days of the lockdown, and as such the little things — which Bravo has always specialized in communicating the character and nuance of so effectively — end up looming very large indeed.

This is all quite strange, however, given that so many of life’s small moments of wonder as delineated by Bravo (reading while walking, teaching the young’uns about ska music, etc.) are no less possible in the COVID era than they were before, but there is a real sense of a more innocent — to say nothing of a more generally convenient — time being gone, possibly for good, come issue seven. Indeed, pandemic-related exigencies are even felt in the comic’s production values itself, not just its subject matter, as Bravo abandons (hopefully only temporarily?) the lush three-color riso printing of number six in favor of a single-hued (that being green) print job. Still, the fact that he was able to publish at all is what really matters, of course, I’m just pointing out the fact that making do has become harder to, well, do in the most universal sense.

Six bills itself as a “pre-pandemic naivete” issue, while seven seven refers to its COVID-related content as being “obligatory” in nature, but in a pinch you can certainly read either/both separately and have an enjoyable time exploring the daily life of one of the indie cartooning scene’s more fascinating figures — however if you do get the chance to read them both at once, the tonal shift and change in the author’s perspective will prove striking in all the right ways. Bravo isn’t one to layer on the angst in extra-thick proportions for its own sake by any means, but it’s there for him just as surely as it has been for us all, and its trajectory from being visible and felt at the margins to becoming damn near all-consuming is both eminently relatable and, weird as this no doubt sounds, somewhat comforting — I mean, none of this has been a picnic for anyone, but if there’s such a thing as a “saving grace” in the midst of it all, it’s to be found in the knowledge that none of us are suffering through it alone.

Does that make it all any easier? News flash — of course not. But we’ve all become more acutely aware, I hope, of our common humanity over the course of the past year-plus, and reading these comics, suffuse as they are with triumphs and tragedies the likes of which most of us are well aware of, is a timely reminder of not only what we’ve lost but, perhaps more importantly, all that we still have. And it sure doesn’t hurt that they’re so wonderfully drawn, with Bravo’s sheer traditionalist cartooning prowess absolutely never failing to impress.
It’s no secret that there are a ton of autobio comics out there these days, and that’s been true for a good couple of decades now, but this is top-echelon stuff all the way. A title such as the one Bravo has chosen for his series means he’s got a lot to live up to, but he always manages to do do — and then some.

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Forever And Everything #s 6 and 7 are available directly from Kyle Bravo’s Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/KyleBravoThings

Review wrist check – Traska “Freediver” mint green dial/black ceramic bezel model rising Traska’s factory-issue stainless steel bracelet.

2 thoughts on “The World We Used To Know — And The One We Have Now : Kyle Bravo’s “Forever And Everything” #s 6 & 7

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