Review: Nothing Lasts Forever

NothingLastsForever-1Reading Nothing Lasts Forever is like sitting across writer/artist Sina Grace at a table at one of the coffee shops in L.A. that he frequents and watching him slowly pull his still-beating heart out of his chest and show it to you with Jenny Lewis playing in the background. On that creepy, visceral note, this is Grace’s third graphic memoir after the very relatable ode to retail hell Not My Bag and the relationship/pop culture-driven Self-ObsessedNothing Lasts Forever is written and drawn like it’s a literal page in Grace’s sketch journal. It’s rough (The lettering is sometimes hard to make out in a digital copy.) , but it’s an unfiltered look at his relationship to Sina’s comics work, love life, the death of his grandmother, his battle with achalasia, global politics, and much more. (For the purpose of this review Sina is the character in the story, and Grace is the creator behind it.)

Just like Just My Bag and Self-Obsessed , Nothing Lasts Forever is relatable to me as a queer man, who is adjacent to the comics industry even though I don’t write, draw, color or letter them. Writing and drawing is therapeutic for Sina, but he doesn’t know what he should write and draw about. Throughout the comic, Sina has conversations with friends, fellow creators, and editors about projects, or whether he should do monthly comics or standalone works like Self-Obsessed. He likes doing autobiographical work, but also is a fan of doing genre stuff. This push and pull is one of the secondary sources of conflict throughout the graphic novel. Nothing Lasts Forever also features the first time I’ve seen a comic journalist interview a creator in a comic book. It’s kind of reassuring to know that the writers and artists I interview might be just as nervous as me about their answers…

One of the most powerful and amusing images in Nothing Lasts Forever was Grace making his exes into doo-dads (It’s a Southern thing, I swear.) , or “baubles” as he calls them. It’s start out about a funny line about boys being toys that Sina tells Amber and then turns into a profound, vulnerable page about Sina having feelings for all the men that have come into his life romantically and sexually. They each brought him NLFInteriorsome happiness for a time and then became someone else’s toy. I feel similarly about the men and women that have come into my life. Sometimes, I’ll have vibes about someone I dated or kissed years ago, feel kind of wistful about it but then cherish the time we spent together. Sina Grace nails that exact emotion throughout Nothing Lasts Forever when he discusses and describes relationships.

Structurally, Nothing Lasts Forever skips through time and place in a way that makes a Timelord look like a tortoise. It’ll go from a story about Sina having a crush on his 9th grade teacher to a pitch meeting with Image or a musing about his grandmother. Grace’s art style shifts and swerves too. On an artistic level, one thing that I loved about Nothing Lasts Forever was how the look of Grace’s art and the type of his color palette matched his feelings about each vignette that makes up his comic.

Grace can do fantasy/horror style art, caricatures, or rich, representational work like when Grace depicts Sina’s pitch for He and Him, an unrealized romance graphic novel not-so-subtly based on his relationship with his ex, Cash. One of his good friends, writer Amber Benson, makes several appearances, and Grace colors her with gorgeous pinks and blue that makes her memorable in a book full of faces. (And dicks depending on the story.) Grace uses wispier linework in a flashback about having a crush on his teacher and switches to stark black and white when he really starts to open up about his depression. There’s a touch of primal horror to these pages as Grace fits his feelings and thoughts into narrative form.

Even though it’s a collection of tenuously connected autobiographical shorts instead of a straight (*chuckles*) narrative like Craig Thompson’s Blankets or Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Nothing Lasts Forever is an enjoyable and emotionally resonant read. There are many genres in Sina Grace’s approach to graphic memoir , including gag strips, portrait pieces, some metafiction (Li’l Depressed Boy makes several, key cameos, and Erik Larsen appears as his creation, Savage Dragon.), and a fun queer take on the fantasy/Magical Girl genre that gets very personal very quickly.

In Nothing Lasts Forever, Sina Grace goes into depth about his depression, his painful struggle with a disease that made it virtually impossible for him to keep down food, and his true feelings about the men he’s dated and slept with. And he does it all in a varied visual style and with his sense of humor intact. I won’t stop smiling and laughing at the all the forms that Sina takes in the comic like some kind of cartoonist Mystique going from a bad mushroom trip to being sad in the shower to even becoming Sailor Moon herself.

Story: Sina Grace Art: Sina Grace
Story: 8.9  Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.7  Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review