WE HAVE TO GO BACK
Creators: Jordan Alsaqa & Sally Cantirino Publisher: Self-published
WHAT IS IT?
A one-shot, post-apocalyptic character study.
Similar to The Road or The Last of Us, but it centers around the relationship between two women, and takes place almost entirely within the walls of a cabin.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Katie and Josephine escaped the end of the world together. It's uncertain what exactly happened – they don't even seem like they know all the details – but they've been living in a cabin away from the city and the dangers it holds.
They've been there awhile. Maybe a year, maybe more. Enough that they've become conscious of their dwindling supplies and have to start hunting and foraging for food. But it even seems like there are fewer animals now than before. Eventually, they're going to have to make their way back to the city for supplies. The longer they wait, the more likely whatever danger was there will be gone. But also, the more likely that supplies will be gone, taken by other survivors, and Katie and Josephine will be that much closer to starvation.
And so Katie and Josephine argue about what to do: stay safe, give it more time, try to think of a better solution? Or go back now, risking the danger for a chance at a more stable future?
The more Katie & Josephine argue, the more we see that the apocalypse and the need to go back to town is just a McGuffin for talking about the issues in their relationship
It's amazing how realistic and organic Alsaqa weaves in numerous issues the couple has to work through, including depression, PTSD, lack of communication, misplaced priorities, one person moving away from their life for the other, one person being sole provider for the other, and the resentment that could potentially go with any of those things
Personally, I love how you could have something as mind-bogglingly devastating as the fall of civilization, but how the focus is on your relationship with someone else, the strain that causes the relationship, and the implied terror at living out the rest of your lives, together but separately, with nothing else but survival to distract you
Without knowing what the situation is in the town, each woman's perspective carries equal weight
Maybe it IS better to wait until it's safer. Or maybe they really SHOULD go into town now, before things get worse for them.
By not showing us the situation in the city, the story becomes less about who is right and more about this couple and their relationship: how it's tested, how it grows, how they learn to listen to each other and understand that each processes trauma in different ways
The narrative jumping between past and present doesn't waste time while still feeling like a sharp, organic way of telling the story
The past shows the history of their relationship and develops each character more, as well as shows the events leading up to the present
The scenes from the past are smartly juxtaposed, defining the tone and theme of the present scene by what past events inform them
The cabin they're in acts as a pressure-cooker
Unable to leave or travel, with just the two of them in a small cabin, you can feel the tension the characters must feel
Sally Cantirino is a master of drawing for a black & white comic, using texture and inking expertly to create panels you don't even need color for
Even when the characters are trying not to say too much (so as not to hurt the other's feelings), their facial expressions and body language speak volumes
A+ representation, including women, LGBTQIA+ status, multiple races and body types
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
It contains nudity in a single panel, if that's a concern for you
Not even at the PG-13 level of Titanic, though
Some nit-picky lettering issues
No color in the interior (if that bothers you), but I personally didn't feel like it was necessary
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
We Have To Go Back is a masterfully crafted short story about relationships, processing pain, talking through issues, accepting others and choosing love.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Welderkin by Jordan Alsaqa & Joni Miller
Queen of Bad Dreams by Danny Lore & Jordi Pérez
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
If you like the art:
The Changeling by Sally Cantirino
Whiteout by Greg Rucka & Steve Lieber
Deadbeat by Jed McPherson & Chris Shehan
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Jordan Alsaqa – Writer
His first comics were successfully funded through Kickstarter
He's loved writing his whole life, and has written hundreds of articles and reviews for publications
Sally Cantirino – Artist & Letterer
Has been self-publishing comics after attending the Sequential Artists Workshop in Gainesville, Florida
Also enjoys knitting in her spare time
Danny Lore – Editor
Danny Lore is a queer editor & writer from Harlem & the Bronx
Multitalented: While much of their experience is in editing comics and writing prose, they are writing a new comic in April called Queen of Bad Dreams
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Jordan Alsaqa & Sally Cantirino characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Nick Bryan & Rosie Alexander or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED