Back In the Day

The question “What if?” pretty much forms the basis for all storytelling & inevitably the basis for most thinking after a few too many beers.  Were it ever possible that time travel should pop into existence it seems probable that the person responsible would be someone not so much fixated with killing Hitler or wondering what Dinosaur steak tastes like at all.  Instead it’s more likely that the person responsible would be a physics student attempting to find some way to afford their fees for the next term of university & so would travel back through time to buy a ticket for the rollover week on the lottery when nobody won.  What is inevitable though is that while they were there this person wouldn’t be able to resist getting in contact with their younger self & teaching them some hard lessons the easy way, like “Google wave aint sh*t” (which in turn would lead to an explanation of modern language where saying something aint sh*t means it actually is) or that when that girl said “Call me” she meant it.

It’s this idea that forms the basis for Back in the Day from Action Lab comics.  It tells the story of three long time friends from school who spend their evenings together sat in a bar wondering how their lives turned out the way they did.  Mikey is a Lothario, hiding a secret high school shame. Todd is happily married to his teenage sweetheart but wishes he’d played the field more when he had the chance, & then there’s Darren (or Dare to his friends) a workaholic scientist who might have just found a way to go back & take another shot at the one that got away.

& (to quote another time traveller) so it goes. The ideas that Back in the Day explores however are as theoretical as the notions it employs to explore them. The wibbly wobbly timey whymey (to quote yet another time traveller) aspects of the story are as non-existent as Dare’s luck with the ladies.  Those picking this book up for the first time may expect some sort of crossover between Porky’s & Counting Up Counting Down.  What they’ll get instead is a nostalgia trip that owes more to John Hughes than Bob Clark.  Which, believe you me, is a good thing.  Dave Dwonch’s writing puts the 3 main characters front & centre.  Dare, Todd & Mikey, for all their idiosyncrasies, feel relatable & most importantly real & the fact that their friendship endures through the book the way it has since school keeps this story more grounded than a teenager whose parents have come home to find he’s thrown the party to end all parties.

The art serves the book perfectly in this respect & Daniel Logan shows a fine touch that contributes to the story just as much as the writing. The younger versions of the books 3 central characters all fit nicely with their older selves & Logan clearly has a good eye for visual humour & pacing that keeps the storytelling as tight as Todd’s shorts. Logan also credits the reader with a good amount of sense & doesn’t choose to clutter the panels with an endless stream of visual cues to keep reminding you what time period you’re in. Yes it looks like the past & such details do pop up on occasion but they’re not shoe horned in leaving Logan to focus on drawing the details that tell the story & as such they tell it very well indeed.

Back in the Day will no doubt have its detractors who say “well I would have done this or that differently” but when you get down to it that’s actually what the story is about. If you spend your life looking into the past you miss the opportunities that are happening right now. Sure, everyone has things that they wish they could change but some things are great just the way they are & Back in the Day is one of those things.