Grand Gestures

 GRAG   (Alternative, 2003)

™ and © Alternative Comics

Ullman’s story is a character study of sorts that examines three friends and their relationships — or lack thereof — with women. As clinical as that sounds, it’s actually an engaging chronicle of three radically different approaches to personal relationships.

Ken has a girlfriend but sees her as little more than a placeholder in his life; he has little interest in spending time with her, yet lacks the will to end the relationship. Tunnel-visioned Perry longs for a woman he barely knows and goes to pieces when she rejects him. And Brady is a carefree flirt who never seems to get rejected but, ironically, has no desire for anything serious.

These are three diametrically opposed lives with one thing in common: the lack of a happy and committed relationship — except, perhaps, for their own friendship. Ullman’s character Ken states that, although he really likes (not loves) Audrey, he has no desire to make any “grand gestures” on her behalf. Ullman shows that to be the problem (if it can be called that) with all three characters: None want to or are ready to do anything significant with their lives, at least in terms of relationships, and are most content when they are just hanging out with each other.

Ullman nicely fleshes out his characters, and those looking for fine characterization need look no further. It’s not a grand story but it’s a good one.

— Jim Johnson

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 Robert K. Ullman