Written and Art by Philippa Rice. Published by Andrews McMeel (US) and Square Peg (UK).
Often on How to Love Comics I talk about stories of heroes, fantasy, science fiction or people in incredible situations, but today I want to talk about something more grounded and relatable. Today I want to talk about Soppy: A Love Story by Philippa Rice, a very charming autobiographical romance/slice of life comic concerning the cartoonist’s experiences living with her partner and the small but sweet moments they share together. But before you run off (I know some of you will be scared off by the word romance, but stay with me) I want to tell you why it’s better than all the other romance fiction out there.
Soppy: A Love Story isn’t so much a continuous narrative but a collection of small stories of intimate moments. These unrelated moments build up to create something much more and they’re the kind of moments that real couples have when living together. They’re also the kind of ones I can associate with my own relationship with my girlfriend and other couples I know. From sharing the couch or a meal to debating who should make the tea these are real moments instead of the escapist grand gestures of most romance stories. They’re simple moments but ones that most couples experience together in some way or another and while they may sound basic on paper, they can hold a lot of sentimental value. There were many moments when reading that I saw reflections of my own experiences living with my girlfriend over the past 10 months and the three and a half years we’ve been together. If you’re in a serious relationship, you’ll see many parallels of your own, too.
Visually, Soppy is on the minimal side with an aesthetic that works with the charming nature of the comic. Phillippa Rice has adopted a slightly loose style of thin line and solid colour moments that feel warm and intimate. This intimate feeling is also expressed through the level of detail given. By focusing mostly on foreground and middlegound the art has allowed for a closeness which makes the surroundings focused and more on the characters. That’s not to say there isn’t detail with many of the outdoor scenes beautifully rendered and middlegrounds littered with interesting artifacts.
Soppy also follows a strict three colour palette of black, white and red which works well in the context of the stories. This colour scheme helps add to the warmth to the characters and their surroundings and emphasises the caring and deep friendship in this relationship.
“Soppy” is an accurate title for this graphic novel. It celebrates the small moments that couples have and holds them with sentimental value. Couples living together will really enjoy this as they will see many moments in their own relationship come to life on the page – my girlfriend and I included. It’s a real romance, not focusing on the grand gestures that Hollywood and escapist novels sell but the all the little moments that couples share when they are living under the same roof. To top it all off, Philippa Rice’s expressive art gives these little moments warmth which make these moments believable and relatable.