“Five years after the AIDS vaccine...” is the tagline that introduces you to the futuristic world of “Our Love is Real” and, well, there’s been some unintended effects from eliminating the deadly virus. Namely, sex and what’s considered acceptable in society has undergone some changes. The protagonist, Jok, is a police officer who finds himself oddly attracted to another human despite having a wonderful, loving dog by the name of Chyna at home. Not that it matters, because the human he’s attracted to, Brin, is in love with a crystal named Vor. They have sex for hours. And thus lies the conflict at the heart of “Our Love is Real,” one of the funniest comics I’ve had the pleasure of reading in quite some time.
Jok is such an odd character. Full of disgust and anger for vegisexuals and mineralsexuals, he takes pleasure in cracking skulls of those ‘deviants.’ It’s at one such riot that he encounters Brin and, somehow, can’t get her out of his head. His confusion over the issue puts him at odds with his fellow cops and even causes some trouble at home. Obviously, seeing someone freaked out because they’re attracted to another person instead of an animal, vegetable, or mineral is funny as a concept, but Humphries’ commitment to the gag is impressive. He plays the whole thing entirely straight (no pun intended), giving the satire and humor that much extra bite.
One of the funniest scenes is Jok’s fellow cops making fun of him after he’s seen talking to Brin. Their mocking “Girl, I want to hold hands with you!” and asking if Jok will make Chyna wear a dress or shoes while having sex is so over the top and sold by Steven Sander’s expressive art. It’s schoolyard taunting at its best and plays out to perfection in that scene. It’s like watching two eight-year-olds making fun of another one.
Sanders works with a square page here and handles it well, sticking to simple layouts that are easy to read and flow smoothly. His design for this future is a smart one, adding tweaks here and there like in the large, clean, metallic look of Brin’s apartment, but never going so far that our own world isn’t recognizable in there. It’s reminiscent of “Transmetropolitan” in how well it blends obvious futuristic elements with the basic foundations that have marked the Western world since World War 2.
Sanders’ biggest strength is his character work and ability to put emotions on display with such ease. You don’t need Humphries’ narration much of the time, because Sanders’ art already tells you what you need to know. Some panels capture the moment so clearly, so well, that it’s shocking.
There’s a simply joke at the heart of “Our Love is Real,” but the way it plays out adds extra levels and humor. This story is an introduction to an odd future, one where sexuality has evolved (or devolved depending on your view) in strange ways. Hopefully, this isn’t our only visit to this world as it seems like one that could be explored in more depth.