This is the second part to my review of Alone by Olivia Stephens. If you want a spoiler free review, check out the first part. Speaking of spoilers, this post will contain them. Here’s the one warning:
As I mentioned in the first part of my review, Alone really grew on me. While some of it is very cliched, the characters feel real as they navigate through very common hardships. So far, the comic has dealt with heavy themes relating to grief, alcoholism, and racism. There also seems to be potential for homophobia, but I’ll get more into that later. The best way for me to discuss these themes more in depth is to discuss the main characters: Javier and Sarah. I’ll speak briefly on Javier, because there is very little known about him and his past.
At the start of the webcomic, Javier (also known as Jack) is seen as a diner owner who is still grieving over the loss of his wife. He doesn’t appear to have many friends, other than the two older women who are regulars at his diner. During the first vignette, we see him begin to spend more time with Sarah and as they get closer Jack reveals his hesitation about starting a new relationship. Then a new vignette begins and it’s a flashback to shortly after his wife’s passing. From a story stand point, I wish that Stephens would have gone more into the relationship between Jack and his wife. It’s very apparent that he is in a dark place, but there’s no frame of reference from where he was before. Therefore, it’s hard for me to really relate or get a true sense of how he really feels. It isn’t until we meet Jack’s brother, Arturo, where it is revealed that Jack is sober.
Arturo seems to have been there for Jack when he was in a low point in his life. Due to the intensity of the scene, you begin to see how much of a toll Jack’s wife passing took on him and his family. As I said earlier, there is still very little revealed about Jack and his past with his wife and before he met Sarah. I’d really like to see more of him and his story.
Now, I may be a little biased when I say Sarah is my favorite. Sarah is thirty-two years old and her entry into the webcomic is when she buys the coffee shop next door to Jack’s diner. Sarah carries her own baggage as we learn that she is an aspiring musician and was on the verge of making it until she choked. As I also mentioned in the first posts, Sarah is bisexual and I am 100% here for it. Bisexuality is often erased from discussions relating to sexuality due to the unfortunate stigmas people place on it. One of them being that bisexual people have to choose a side. Even though a person can be bisexual and only have past/current relationships with one gender, I still appreciate how Stephens showed Sarah in a relationship with other women before Jack.
I love to see LGBT+ people of color in happy and healthy relationships, because it is not easy. Especially for black people, because, homophobia is a very real issue in the black community, specifically in black churches. There are very strong sentiments, moreso from older generations, about homosexuality not being accepted. This has left many black LGBT+ alone as they struggle to understand and reconcile with their sexuality. I have yet to share my sexuality with my own family due to these issues. I’m fortunate enough to have close friends who are accepting of me, however, for some people that isn’t always the case. That being said, I’m very curious to see why Sarah doesn’t currently speak to her family and if it is related to her sexuality.
Speaking of race, the webcomic touches on themes relating to racism when in an interracial relationship. I’m unsure of Jack’s race, but I’m assuming he’s of Hispanic descent due to his family speaking Spanish. When Sarah goes to meet his family for the first time, most of the family welcomes her with open arms and is happy that Jack has made peace. However, one of Jack’s uncles isn’t too receptive of him dating a darker woman.
Hopefully it is safe to say that I don’t need to explain the history of racism to any of you reading this. If so, I suggest you open a history book or take a quick search on google. Anyway, interracial couplings are becoming more popular each generation. Speaking from personal experience, being in an interracial relationship can bring on an additional set of problems than a same race relationship. There’s the combining of two different cultures, histories, privileges, etc. which is a wonderful experience. However, it can also bring up issues of not understanding the cultural norms of your partner. And then there’s, family. You can have a really strong and awesome relationship, but if the family isn’t on board due to bigoted reasons, it can cause a big rift in the relationship.
I particularly love this set of panels of the comic. I love the decision to make Sarah’s skin the only color in the scene, because that is exactly what it feels like when your race is being put on display. I’ve been in a similar situation where a member of my current partner’s family, who is white, used a racial slur in my presence. It is very shocking and obviously offensive, but it’s also very alienating. It places a spotlight on you, that you weren’t planning to be in which can be very humiliating.
That being said, this post has gone on for too long! I’m very excited to dive more into Javier’s and Sarah’s lives and see how they navigate through life together. I am inspired to make a posting about interracial couples in order to dive a little deeper into those topics, but for now I’ll end it here. If you liked this post, then I suggest checking out the webcomic. It is a very quick read. It’s currently ongoing, and updates every Saturday according to Stephens. However, they are a student and it seems like it’s a little more sporadic than that.
Please share your thoughts! Have any relating webcomics? Let me know!