Wonderlost: Love and Angst


So I was facing another friggin’ deadline, even though I started planning out my stuff for this month’s edition over 3 weeks ago. I had several things written and ready to go and was just waiting for a good night’s rest to clear my head so I could wake up, do a final edit and get everything ready for this issue.

But that night, I read a copy of Wonderlost that I picked up at the comic shop earlier in the day. The deadline was going to have to be pushed back, because more than any other, this is the book I wanted to write about this month.

Wonderlost is an autobiographical anthology about teenage love and loss, raging hormones and broken hearts, and the friendship that remains throughout it all. The book is broken up by Cebulski into six chapters, each illustrated by a different artist. Breaking the book up this way provides for a wonderful shift in tone, not just by the story Cebulski is telling but by the artistic stylings.

The autobiography may be Cebulski’s, but the stories are about all of us. You could be the one who fell in love with their best friend or, even worse, your girlfriend’s best friend. You could be the one who sat by and watched your best bud make an ass out of himself with a girl. You could also be the s.o.b. who helped to embarrass the hell out of your friend while he was trying to score. Perhaps you’re the one who stayed with your friend during the dark times after a break-up and helped him or her pick up the pieces of their life.

The story deals with young men and their awkward relationships with women, but this is a book that can be appreciated by anyone. The genders, races and orientations depicted here are just place cards that can be swapped out with little imagination to make it more reflective of the reader’s own life. You might not be the character who falls for his love’s best friend or who had a horrific first-time sexual experience with a member of the opposite sex, but maybe you were the one who had to talk some sense into your best friend after a break-up or just stayed with your pal and drank yourselves into oblivion to cure the heartache. And if you’ve never experienced these things, well, then you’re just a liar.

My favorite chapter is “Break Up.” Artist Paul Azaceta introduces us to Jerrod in a few quick panel close-ups (in no particular order) of a bottle of Beefeater Gin, a broken windshield on a car, a bandaged and bloodied hand and a young man crouched on the front porch of his home lamenting the loss of his girlfriend.

His friend (CB) soon arrives and sits down alongside Jerrod, offering words of advice and encouragement, but Jerrod wants none of this. He doesn’t want to hear trash talk about his ex. He doesn’t want to hear about how he’s better off without her. Jerrod just wants to embrace the pain and anger and darkness and get over this in his own way. CB understands this and together they laugh about the stupid things they’ve done because of their emotions (like breaking a windshield) and share two shots of gin (because you can taste and feel straight gin and it tastes like shit, just like how Jerrod feels), one shot for each year Jerrod and his girl were together.

When CB asks what they’re going to do after the two shots, Jerrod suggests having a shot for all the women they will ever get their hearts broken by, since they may not be close enough to comfort each other in the future. And when asked how many women that should be, Jerrod responds that they’ll have to finish the bottle to find out.

All I did when I broke up with my first “long-term” girlfriend was drive to a beach 400 miles away, rent a room and get drunk for about a week without telling anyone (school, job, parents) where I was. I probably would have been in jail or killed if it wasn’t for the support of my own CB.

A close second in terms of stories is “Hook Up,” but I hesitate to talk about the book’s chapters anymore for fear of ruining more surprises. The fun of reading these “slice-of-life” stories is imagining how they relate in terms of your own life experiences and seeing where the author switches gears on you.

There have been a lot of great “realistic” comic dramas out there, like Strangers in Paradise, The Waiting Place, True Story, Swear to God and The Copybook Tales. Wonderlost is up there as one of the best. Special points are awarded for the soundtrack that Cebulski provides at the end. I like to listen to music when I read, but especially when I write, and the creator picks some awesome songs—at least by my tastes.

The first issue of this mini-series just came out January 31, so there should be some copies left on the shelves. Buy it, read it and give it to someone you love.