Forward is a tender story of grief and emerging romance, set in the lesbian community in Victoria, BC. It's a setting that comics artist Lisa Maas obviously knows well. I could relate to so much in this graphic novel. These characters are people I recognize. The two central women are both in their 40s: Rayanne hasn't recovered from a break-up, and Ali is grieving the death of her wife. The cast of interesting supporting characters adds to the authenticity, grounding it in reality. The dialogue is spot on, and so is the narrative pacing.
There's a nice sense of movement in this full-page panel as Rayanne arrives at work, greeting everyone. It also captures so many details of the cubicle office environment: the motivational posters on the wall; plants, coffee mugs and snapshots personalizing work spaces; spare shoes or a bike helmet under a desk; the ease of slipping over to talk to a colleague at a nearby cubicle.
The art is strongest in its portrayal of the urban landscape and layouts like the one above that show the passage of time. Watercolour in muted tones suit the nuanced layers of emotion in the story. I also like the clear, hand-lettered text, which is so much more personal than digital fonts.
The execution of human faces and figures in Maas' artwork gets better and better as the novel progresses. ("I'll have a grande, half-caf, no foam, mocha latte" is near the beginning, while the shot of Ali on a walking path is near the end of the book.)
Private moments are frequent and captured very well, as in the above example of Ali curling up on the floor in sadness, talking to her cat.
Maas shares good advice for a reading slump. Another type of reading that might get you out of a slump is an excellent graphic novel like this one.