Long Hot Summer is the story of Steve, sort of. Here’s what I know about Steve: He’s 22 and he’s a mod. That’s about all I can tell you. The description on the back cover tells me it’s 1988, but reading the story, the setting and time could easily be today, the sixties, or the eighties. Steve could be a college student, a banker, or a fish wrangler. My personal guess is that, with all the emphasis on it being summer, and given Steve’s age, that the characters are in college or just graduated. The lack of contextual details on the setting and the characters is a little disconcerting. Everything feels very flat.
The art is the same: black and white, with very solid lines and outlines. It looks more like a coloring book at times, but McKelvie is clearly working a particular style, and it does have its moments. Adrian Tomine and Dan Clowes however, both mange a similar style with a bit more depth and personality to it.
The story of Long Hot Summer is simple. Steve’s friend Ken has met a girl. She decides that she likes Steve better, which leads to some heartbreak and some yelling. Unfortunately the story doesn’t particularly do much beyond that and ultimately, while the reader’s sympathies are aligned somewhat with Steve, most of the characters– particularly Ken– come across as fairly unlikable by the end. The moral to the story is probably that love is imperfect and that looking for it involves hits, misses, and mistakes. It’s a good point, a rather universal truth, but I can’t help feeling that McKelvie could have put a little more work in into delivering it.
Long Hot Summer
by Eric Stephenson and Jamie McKelvie
Image Comics, 2005