An Elegy for Amelia Johnson
Written by Andrew Rostan
Illustrated by Dave Valeza and Kate Kasenow
Reviewed by Stephanie Cooke
When I’m picking out graphic novels, most of my decisions are based on what the art is like. I know that seems silly, but I’m extremely visual and I find it distracting when the images in the book don’t really match the story. Graphic novels can be tricky because you don’t want the images to take away from the story and you also don’t want the story to take away too much from the images. They have to work together to tell the story… some of the pictures need to say what words can’t and the words need to fill in the rest. An Elegy For Amelia Johnson has a perfect mix of excellent writing and simple, straightforward and yet elegant art.
It takes us a little while to find out just who Amelia is. We start off the story meeting Henry, a successful filmmaker and Jillian, a successful writer who has lost her love for it. They’re doing separate things and we get brief glimpses into their lives before Amelia is brought into it. Henry and Jillian are Amelia’s best friends from throughout the years. Together, they set out on a journey to fulfill Amelia’s last request – to bring Amelia’s last words to a few friends across the country and to film it all so Amelia can see it before she dies.
The story isn’t full of sappy moments about a friend that is dying… it portrays a realistic scenario in which Jillian and Henry try to discover who their friend really was. All of our friends have separate lives when they’re not with us and we can never know our friends as well as we think. Jillian and Henry discover the good, the bad and everything in between that they could ever want to know about Amelia. When it boils down to is this: how much do we really know about our friends and when is enough, enough?
I enjoyed the story very much and I always feel like there’s a place in the world for an excellent graphic novel that is well-written and extremely enjoyable – even while dealing with a subject matter that isn’t necessarily considered enjoyable. An Elegy For Amelia Johnson was heartfelt, sincere and well worth the read.