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Strugglers    by Tim Fish order for
by Tim Fish
Order:  USA  Can
Poison Press, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Leaving his future up to fate, or rather his aim when blindfolded, Tighe throws a dart at a map of the United States and finds out that his new place of residence will be St. Louis. So off he goes on a bus from New England and starts his post-college life - struggling to make new friends, find jobs and a stable place to live over the next few months.

He eventually meets Allison and Tracey who, like Tighe, are recent college graduates trying to find themselves in St. Louis. The three hit it off well enough and become roommates, dealing with typical dramatic tension that both divides and bonds them. But Tighe is also beginning to better understand his sexuality and falls for the hunky neighbor Mike, who seems just as interested. While the narrative focuses mainly on Tighe, readers also enjoy learning more about the trials and tribulations of Allison and Tracey.

Within the first twenty pages, the title Strugglers perfectly defines those in a post-college haze of trying to figure out where to go from here. Coined the quarter-life crisis, this dilemma strikes many college graduates without solid career paths or interests, and Fish does wonders to tap into that unresolved tension. Though his work was originally crafted as a comic journal of sorts, Fish has altered some elements. However, character details are less significant than the deeper truths of their intangible goals and aspirations.

Fish packs a good story into the 112 pages of this graphic novel and includes end pieces that update readers on what has happened to the characters since the end of the story. Fish also includes a brief biography of the work itself which has taken on several different forms over the years and had been reworked for this edition. The brief chapters are episodic shorts that are sometimes self-contained and exist outside the main narrative. As digest-size, space is even more limited than in the typical-sized graphic novel, but Fish efficiently uses it to establish mood and atmosphere.

Fish makes no claims that his graphic novel can be held up to such standards as Persepolis or Stuck Rubber Baby, but he shouldn't sell himself short. His work has universal elements that make it relevant and engaging for readers who have struggled in the same way as his protagonists.

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