By Zack Quaintance — I probably used the ideal opening line for my headline, so I’ll just re-purpose it again here: Ghosted in L.A. #1—a new comic from BOOM! by Sina Grace, Siobhan Keenan, Cathy Le, and DC Hopkins—is an absolutely great story about youth and love (both romantic and platonic) and Los Angeles...that also happens to have some ghosts in it.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but the cover does have ghosts on it. A reasonable person can expect there to be ghosts inside, which is the only major detail I plan to unveil here about our plot. Anyway, this comic spends its first two (wonderful) acts following a coming-of-age story of young love. As we approach our ending, our protagonist stumbles upon a new situation rife with ghosts, with whom a relationship begins. I really liked the first two acts of this comic. It was refreshing to read something in this medium where the dialogue felt as real as the people saying it, the twists were predicated on the messy emotional choices of youth, and nobody was also an alien or zombie or predestined mythical hero that punched a corresponding bad guy who showed up.
By the time the paranormal elements appeared in this comic, I was already pretty heavily invested in our lead character and her plight. It was a familiar one to me. I remember going away to college myself, plunged somewhat unknowingly into a transitional period that all but required taking an inventory of every relationship in your life, so as to decide which to keep, which to copy, and which to continue in some (usually diminished) form. The pain and detachment and excitement of possibility was all too real for me. I loved it.
It’s maybe a bit cliche to phrase it this way, but this book also made its setting an integral character. As writer Sina Grace notes in the back of the comic, he’s a lifelong Los Angeleno and it really shows. This is as much a story about what it feels like to simply be in Los Angeles as it is a story of young love and loss. And that’s a great thing, that a 22-page comic book is able to explore one of America’s truly great cultural centers in that way.
On a technical level, Grace’s scripting is authentic, Siobhan Keenan’s linework serves the book in the same understated way Max Sarin’s did Giant Days, and Cathy Le does wonderful things with the colors, giving Los Angeles a suitably brighter palette than the Montana town in which our story begins.
But back to the Ghosted part of our title! Did I like that this comic also had ghosts? My real answer is a frustrating one: I don’t know yet. I don’t think we got enough of how the paranormal elements fit with the rest of the story’s vision in just their brief appearance at the end of this story. Ghosts are rich with metaphors that can be applied to someone making a major move from veritable childhood to almost-adulthood, and so I think there’s quite a bit of potential.
It just remains to be seen whether the book delivers. If subsequent issues manage to be as heartfelt and charming as the first 2/3s of this debut, however, Ghosted in L.A. will be just fine.
Overall: A great story of young love and loss that also has ghosts in it. Ghosted in L.A. has the makings of a moving comic, provided subsequent issues can make the paranormal fit in with the story’s deep emotional center. 8.0/10
Ghosted in L.A. #1
Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Siobhan Keenan (w/Sina Grace)
Colorist: Cathy Le
Letterer: DC Hopkins
Publisher: BOOM! Studios - BOOM! Box
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.