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i-saw-you.jpgEd. Julia Wertz
I Saw You
Three Rivers Press
7/10

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to be one of the thousands of Craigslist posters who pine for lost opportunities in Missed Connections? Julia Wertz does. The New York-based cartoonist has had more than a few “d’oh”’ moments over the years- inspired by her own missed connections, Wertz has gathered up a modest list of them and brought them to life- with the help of a few friends, of course. The result, I Saw You, is a tender, heartwarming tribute to love’s little ironies that is at times funny, sardonic, and bittersweet.

From a woman pining for a Vegas heartthrob, to a man struck blind with amour following a fateful meeting at a goth rock concert, the stories range the gamut from the merely sweet, the naïve, to the ineffable. Not that the posters are all innocent- they got agendas of their own, from the primeval to the quixotic. Yet they each tell a story that gets at the heart of what it means to be in love- or more accurately, to be in love with the idea of being in love (or lust, as the case may be). They could easily be figments of someone’s imagination, but alas, are not.

As with any comic or graphic novel, there are hits and misses. Some panels tug at the heart, some the funny bone (anything by Derek Chatwood is going to be funny). But in its own way, the unevenness of the book itself reinforces its subject matter in a way that a formulaic plot line can’t, and graphic novels are full of those. Hurray for Wertz for being able to create a tome that is both lightweight in size and tone (at 178 pages, it is one of the shortest graphic novels around).

At $13, I Saw You is a definite must have for anyone pondering what might have been.

–John Winn