A Trip Down Memory Lane

 An article by, Aaron Burton

Non-fiction comics and illustrations are a common part of most of our lives. Many items come with comic strip-style instruction booklets. Airplane seats have comic inserts showing us what to do in the event of an emergency. Though these are very informative, they are not always the most entertaining.

One of my favorite parts of being a lover of indie comics is the access to nonfiction stories. The popular market offers any and all variety of super heroes, villains, and monsters. Though these stories often reflect upon life, they are still embroiled in the fictional realm. I love being able to pick up comic books that are explicitly based in reality. This includes memoirs, biographies, and educational stories.

Before I Forget Vol. 1 is written and drawn by Christopher Bryan Harmon. The book was released on April 11th 2018 and is self-published. Before I Forget is an illustrated memoir told in a slice of life format. This is currently the only book in this series, but the label of "Vol. 1" has me thinking that there is more to come.

Volume one of this series takes a look at a portion of Harmon's childhood in the 1980s and 90s. These stories include many of my favorite parts of childhood. Though I am younger than Harmon I found these stories to be very relatable. Many of us have memories of family camping trips, arcade games, and cable softcore pornography. Though a lot of this book is humorous and lighthearted, the volume ends on the most anxiety-provoking tales I have recently read.

Harmon's visual style is unique and entertaining. While the art style throughout the book is consistent, the formatting does change from story to story. Some pages have classic comic panels while others have more of a freeform approach. These stories still follow a plot but visually look like more of a collage of text and drawings. I loved the diagram of how to make scrambled eggs with cheese. The way Harmon plays with the format gives way to very interesting storytelling.

Before I Forget's coloring is mostly grayscale. However, most pages do have a splash of color to help emphasize certain aspects of the art. My favorite example of this is the colors of the galaxy in story "The Life Cycle of a Star". Harmon recounts a past relationship while comparing it to the birth and death of a star. The colors of the star align with the status of Harmon's relationship.

Before I Forget is well worth the read.  This book is over forty pages long and only costs one dollar. Every page is filled with interesting drawings and insightful narration. The stories made me feel nostalgic and I found myself captivated by Harmon's original style. I hope there is a volume two, especially with the hints and allusions to Harmon's adult life in this first volume.

Before I Forget is available on Comixology. Christopher Bryan Harmon can be reached on Twitter under the handle @old_harmon or through Tumblr. Harmon's other works can be found on Amazon.

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