If I had to describe Going to the Chapel in one word, it’d be clever. David Pepose, Gavin Guidry, Elizabeth Kramer, and Ariana Maher must have had a lot of fun crafting a story this creative, fast-paced, and different. There’s often a lot of talk around comics that push the medium forward when it comes to form, but Going to the Chapel pushes things forward when it comes to genre. With a relatively straightforward premise, Pepose takes two genres that often lie on the fringes of comics and thrusts them into the spotlight. This is a heist meets romance comic that is sure to keep you reading until the end.
Pepose has said that stretching these two genres, especially romance, was one of his goals, and I think he definitely succeeds there. The romance is always present but never feels forced. It’s just enough to make you think and reflect bit by bit while reading all of the moments of action and comedy sprinkled in there. Gavin Guidry on art and Elizabeth Kramer on colors are often the stars of the show, however. Guidry’s art reminds me a lot of Martin Morazzo’s. Something about the backdrop of a seeming ordinary chapel combined with the detailed, slightly off-kilter expressions and the sinking feeling that something’s constantly about to go wrong makes you want to keep reading. I actually thought things were going to go in the horror direction before I reached the end of the first issue. Kramer’s colors contribute to this feeling even further. The muted yellow and pink color palette gives the story a nice southern gothic style.
Back to the cleverness, however, a lot of it comes from the execution and setup — particularly that there isn’t much setup at all. The entire cast of characters is established remarkably quickly and we know enough about all of them to care, but not too much that it bogs the pacing down. Everyone in the story has a different relationship to romance and a different set of ideas about this wedding, and that makes for some crazy hi-jinx during the middle of this heist. We have an old, crude, and vulgar grandma, a rich father who cares more about status and money than the wedding itself, a bride that isn’t quite sure of what she’s getting into, and plenty more.
For the relationships Going to the Chapel is so intent on examining to be effective, we need to care about the people in them, and Pepose, Guidry, Kramer, and Maher manage to make us do that remarkably quickly. Part of that might be because the influences for some of these characters, feel a little too apparent sometimes, but that never gets in the way. It’s also nice that most scenes are packed into a rarely-used, singular location ripe with opportunity.
With its tightly-paced action and well-constructed characters, I’m glad I read the trade because I’m not sure if I could stand the suspense of waiting a month between issues. The twists and turns were always welcomed and most were hard to see coming. Pepose does a nice job building emotional suspense throughout each issue as secrets are revealed, pasts are connected, and stakes get higher. By the second issue, nothing is going according to plan for anyone at the wedding, and each character has a very different reaction to what’s going on. This is way more than just another heist or romance story, and Pepose, Guidry, Kramer, and Maher, break new ground when it comes to genre in the medium while telling a fun, heartfelt, and kickass story in the process.