In the span of a single day, Amal calls off his arranged marriage, comes out to his conservative parents, promptly gets disowned, goes on a bender… and wakes up the next morning to find TJ, a lanky, dreadlocked vagrant, frying eggs and singing Paul Simon in his kitchen.
TJ claims that the two have made a drunken pact to drive all the way from Berkeley to Providence. As it happens, Amal promised his sister he’d be there for her graduation from Brown University. And TJ, well… TJ has his own reasons.
The agreement is simple: Amal does the driving; TJ pays the way – but a 3500 mile journey leaves plenty of time for things to get complicated.
Notes on This Title
2016 Harvey Award for Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work
2016 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Graphic Novels
2016 Eisner Nominee for Best Graphic Album—Reprint
“Road trips are the perfect venue for storytelling. Physical proximity and emotional intimacy are forced by the vehicle, and the surrounding landscape further establishes personalities and underscores or foreshadows the story. The very best road trip stories are travelogues both literally and emotionally, rather than a journey from wrong to right, and E.K. Weaver’s The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ And Amal hits every note required for a really successful foray into the genre. Published online for the better part of the last decade, the adventures are collected in an omnibus printed this year, displaying the love and effort put into two fascinating characters. Thought was put into everything from the route the boys would take to the music they’d listen to on the road, and it results in a comic that feels very authentic. TJ and Amal are both fully formed, and because they are in their 20s, it’s no surprise that they’re still trying to figure out who they are. Their problems are human and relatable, the feelings they have for one another are authentic and flawed at once. Weaver’s art, almost exclusively in grayscale, is honest without being unsympathetic, and the men are shown for who they are rather than who they could or will be. It makes for a handsome, beautifully illustrated jaunt across the country that doesn’t so much end as it does fade into possibilities, allowing the reader to wonder and wish for what they want.” (Source: The AV Club)
“I discovered The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal while searching for webcomics about fantasy-adventure last week, and made a note to come back and really dive in. And I’m so glad I did. The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal is probably one of the best comics I’ve ever read – web or otherwise. The story follows Amal, a gay Indian-American, who calls off his arranged marriage and is then disowned after coming out to his parents. He decides to set out on a road trip from California to see his sister graduate from Brown. Along the way he picks up TJ, who offers to pay for everything during their trip to Providence, Rhode Island. There are so many wonderful things about TJ and Amal.” (Source: ComicBooked)
“The story begins with Amal, a med student at Berkeley, marching out of his home after a fight. He goes to a bar, starts drinking, and meets a dreadlocked vagrant. Amal wakes up the next morning to said vagrant (TJ) making eggs in his kitchen. Apparently they made a deal last night to drive cross-country together, a deal in which Amal drives and TJ pays the bills.
It’s hardly a spoiler to give away that this is a romance comic. Amal’s sexuality and difficulty coming out to his parents is a major motivator of the story. However, TJ and Amal are fully realized people in their own right – far more than their sexualities and tragic pasts alone.It’s a road trip story, a coming-out story, a romance, and many other things besides. However, it never becomes a queer tragedy or a spectacle. It isn’t putting on a show for anybody. In fact, it reads more like a diary than anything else.
TJ and Amal is Weaver’s first comic, but despite being a freshman effort, it’s a stellar example of how to use panel placement and body language to tell a story. Weaver sometimes goes full chapters without using dialogue, resting on her considerable art skills instead.” (Source: Monkeys Fighting Robots)
Comics Alliance: “Organic, Very Human: An Interview With E. K. Weaver”