How to Love: Graphic Novellas by Actus Comics is a collection of stories created by the Israeli comics collective Actus Comics. First published in 2007 by Actus Independent Comics, How to Love was later distributed through Top Shelf in August of 2008. This collection is a significant contribution to Israel’s comic book and graphic novel scene as it presents a selection of work from Israel’s premier comic collective, Actus Comics. The collection contains six stories, one from each author, that deal with love. Mira Frieddman’s “Independence Day,” Rutu Modan’s “Your Number One Fan,” Batia Kolton’s “Summer Story,” Itzik Rennert’s “Love Love Love,” Yirmi Pinkus’ “8:00 to 10:00,” and David Polonsky’s “L’ElixirD’Amour” make up this selection of stories. All of the authors mentioned are part of the Actus Comics collective except for David Polonsky, who was often cited as a contributor to their projects but was not explicitly considered a member. Ishai Mishory is also credited as a translator for this work.

The stories contained in How to Love explore different forms of love and though Israel is a setting for some of the stories, they all deal with universal ideas.  “Number One Fan” follows an aspiring Israeli musician as he gets his first big break from an adoring fan, but not everything is as it seems.“8:00 to 10:00” is a wordless story that follows a man through his morning routine. A girl crosses the Jordanian border in 1966 Jerusalem for the sake of a boy she loves in “Independence Day.”“Love Love Love” follows the escapades of a bisexual man looking for love. A Baron tells his lover tales of love in “L’ElixirD’Amour.”  “Summer Story” follows a young girl who is captivated by the romantic life of a family friend and neighbor.

The different stories in the collection present love as a strange feeling, situation and motivation: the stories show how love can be fickle and temperamental, misunderstood or unwanted, and, above all, mysterious. Most of the stories utilize a form of ligne claire (clear line) for their art style, which is a notable feature of Modan’s work (Flagg). It is notable that Polonsky’s “L’ElixirD’Amour” and Rennert’s“Love Love Love,” are both pieces of prose that are accompanied by illustrations rather than a traditional sequence of images with text presented inside the art.

—  Christian Mata

Further Reading

  • Flagg, Gordon. Rev. of How to Love: Graphic Novellas by Actus Comics, by Batia Kolton and others. Booklist 1 June 2008: 60. Web
  • Wheeler, Andrew. “Review: ‘How to Love’ from Actus Comics.”Rev. of How to Love: Graphic Novellas by Actus Comics, by Batia Kolton and others.Comicmix 28 May 2008: n.pag. Web.