Graphic Novel Review: Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not) by Jason Shiga
Empire State is a coming of age story about a guy named Jimmy who has led a very sheltered life. When his best friend Sara leaves to live in New York Jimmy decides to take a cross country road trip to tell her that he loves her, an idea he got from watching romantic comedies.
Jimmy is a very sweet and likeable character because he is so naïve. He has never left his home state so his view of the world mostly comes from TV shows and movies. It’s both funny and sad watching him confess that he doesn’t know what a latte is or finding out that Star Wars is a well-known movie.
Jason Shiga uses a very cartoony art style which helps give the bittersweet story a softer edge. It seems quite simplistic but it’s the kind of art that is better designed than you initially think it is. He also alternates between colouring the art entirely in red and blue to differentiate between time periods which also establishes a different mood for past and present.
The story is a little predictable; it’s the same kind of plot you find in a lot of autobiographical comics. But it’s the character of Jimmy which really sets it apart. His wide eyed wonder of everyday things makes this a very charming and enjoyable story.