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Webcomic: The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal
May 16, 2008 - In the span of a single day, Amal calls off his arranged marriage, comes out as gay 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.The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal is a webcomic by E.K. Weaver that follows the form of a typical Road Movie. It features the budding romance of the title characters in the most nerdy, believable way possible, as well as some superb dialog, well-crafted characters, and great art that pays special attention to the little details of life. Can be read here.
Tropes that pop up in this webcomic:
Adorkable: Amal. So, so much. Also, TJ, when the mood is on him.
They're both definitely equal parts adorkable, especially in conjunction. Some highlights would definitely be most of their comedic banter, the "amazing escalation", and the ultimate battle of ultimate destiny example. Not to mention the Back to the Future quote-off.
All There in the Manual: There's lots of information on the website about side characters who don't appear in the author's sketches and notes.
So far the biggest source of information about, for one thing, TJ's past, has been the author's various Tumblr accounts.
Anime Hair: Amal has a little bit of this going on. The gray streak is natural though.
Arranged Marriage: Amal was in one of these. Subverted from the usual in that he really liked his fiancee Kavita...as a person. As a romantic partner, not so much. His parents were unhappy about this.
Bollywood Nerd: Played with where Amal is concerned. Yes, he's a med student and a bit of a geek. He's also such a well-rounded character of so many parts that it takes a while to get around to the fact that he's in med school.
Can't Hold His Liquor: Amal repeatedly calls himself a lightweight, though he may just be referring to pot.
Chekhov's Gun: As of Chapter 33, the Harry Potter CD collection from Chapter 18 has come back. (In fact taking a second look at TJ's face the earlier scene reveals some foreshadowing.)
The entire scene is full of foreshadowing - for example, the way TJ talks about the series, it's easy to see that he knows barely anything about the Harry Potter series, looking really blank-faced when Amal starts talking about it in more detail and answering the favourite character question with "Well...I've always been partial to mentors," instead of just saying "Dumbledore".
TJ's fondness for the song "Graceland." It's the name of the tattoo parlor in Providence.
Coming-Out Story: The comic starts with Amal's with regards to his parents, but it's mostly over with by the time the action gets going. The consequences of coming out, though, have either occurred largely in the background or have been suspended entirely while the boys are on the road (and Amal's phone is mostly off).
Dark and Troubled Past: Blink and you'll miss it, because it's subtly done, but when you see E.K.'s notes, and the scars TJ's sporting... Not to mention this◊.
And if you're paying attention, you notice that TJ is clearly on the run from something or someone. If you skimmed you'd miss it, but look at this page, or this page— in the first he hides from the guy coming out of the car, and in the second, he lies about where they've come from and where they're going. So what exactly did he do...?
TJ drowns his after explaining his past to Amal and flushing all his cocaine.
Amal: Uh, you... you want to get a beer?
TJ: I would like seven beers.
Drugs Are Bad: Averted. TJ and Amal buy from a trucker and partake sparingly, and this doesn't lead to any kind of negative consequence. Played straight when Amal discovers that TJ has been transporting cocaine and makes him flush it.
Fan Nickname: Both fans and the author refer to the comic as <Epic.
Silence Is Golden: Two whole chapters of the comic are completely like this. It's a mark of the artist's skill set that you can tell exactly what's going on anyway in the content of the (non-existant) dialogue, including Chapter 17, which is one (long) page and arguably a Crowning Moment of Awesome.