If there’s a familiar feeling to “Demo #3,” “Volume One Love Story,” it’s because, as Brian Wood says in his text piece at the end of the issue, this issue comes from the notes for the original “Demo” series. With that, it fits well into this second volume and the feeling of a short film that each issue seems to evoke. Wood himself provides a good word for this issue: cute. It’s a cute issue.
Marlo lives in Los Angeles and has tons of post-it notes. Post-it notes that remind her that she should get out of bed, what she should wear, what days she should rush, what order to put make-up on, and even notes that are just meant to make her feel good about herself. They’re posted all over her house and, oddly, outside of her house, too, in places where she frequents. She even carries some with her, like one that says “All therapists talk like that” that she looks at during a therapy session. At first, I thought it was going to be a story where Marlo has some sort of memory problem, but the notes just make her feel good and safe. They make her happy.
Where the story turns is on her encountering post-it notes meant for her not written by her. Some stranger knows about her notes and is communicating with her. Her therapist thinks this is a bad thing, but she’s not so certain. It’s easy to see where both people are coming from: there’s an element of romance and creepiness in it. The secret admirer leaving notes could be the person of her dreams or some weirdo. The title of the issue gives away which direction Wood and Cloonan lean in, and that’s the right choice.
Cloonan continues to adapt her style to suit the story, her line work more lush and rounded in this issue. The story is light and fluffy in that silly romantic way and her art matches it. Marlo is cute with her swept up hair and little smile at seeing her notes. She often looks a little confused, a look that passes upon reading a note. Her lost-at-sea look upon encountering the strange notes or after getting rid of her own are some of Cloonan’s best character work on the book to date. You get a true sense of panic from Marlo in these scenes. I also love how each note is wrinkled a varying amount depending on how worn they are.
While Cloonan does great character work visually, there isn’t always much depth to Marlo. That ‘short film’ feeling gives the comic a somewhat superficial feeling as it works more for a mood than in service or character or story. It’s well executed, but feels like a step down from last issue.
“Demo,” though, is still a very welcome addition to the shelves for its brief return. Each issue delivers something new and unexpected, always executed with great skill. Both Wood and Cloonan push themselves on this book to do different types of stories, rarely repeating themselves and that’s refreshing. It’s one of the books I look forward to most each month.