Graphic Novels from Barry and Keatinge et al. | Xpress Reviews

Barry’s latest is bound to engage a wide general audience, but YA readers in particular will be delighted; Keatinge's title is an intriguing and fresh work that will enthrall lovers of sports comics and noir

Week ending August 26, 2016


Barry, Lynda. The! Greatest! of! Marlys! Drawn & Quarterly. Aug. 2016. 248p. ISBN 9781770462649. $22.95. COMICS

marlys082616Barry’s latest offers readers more stories of beloved eight-year-old Marlys, first introduced in the mid-1980s in the syndicated comic strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek. The volume opens with Barry briefly discussing her artistic process, then moves on to featured strips that tell of a working-class family in which Marlys and her siblings, including teenage sister Maybonne and younger brother Freddie, endure a challenging life of limited resources, absent parents, and unengaging classrooms. However, along with cousins and neighbors, they use their imaginations to make it all a lot more enjoyable. Thematically and artistically similar to the author’s “autobifictionography,” One! Hundred! Demons!, this work successfully brings together plenty of Marlys adventures sure to please her many fans. Marlys is bizarre but lovable, and Barry does an excellent job of entertaining readers with her exploits through captivating dialog, varying points of view, and drawings that depict a child’s world.

Verdict Barry’s passion for her character is evident, and while this Greatest! of! is bound to engage a wide general audience, YA readers in particular will be delighted.—Margaret A. Robbins, Univ. of Georgia, Athens


Keatinge, Joe (text) & Nick Barber & others (illus.). Ringside. Vol. 1: Kayfabe. Image. Jun. 2016. 136p. ISBN 9781632156952. pap. $9.99. Rated: M. CRIME FICTION

Entertainment wrestling is the backdrop of this new series by writer Keatinge (Shutter) and artists Barber, Simon Gough, and Ariana Maher. Although the sport is often ridiculed for being staged, is it possible that after years of body slamming and face kicking, a retired wrestler can really fight when it comes to mob thugs looking to settle a debt? In this volume, Dan Knossos—veteran wrestler, ring name “Minotaur,” struggling to find himself after his dismissal from the crime business—is compelled to help an old friend in serious trouble. Wrestlers frequently face physical decline, emotional instability, and mental demons as they age away from the ring. And despite being warned, Dan gets mixed up in some drama he may not be able to fight his way through. Readers also glimpse the tribulations of an up-and-coming athlete shadowing his mentor and facing the uncertainty of the future. The shading in the illustrations creates an effect that will thrill fans of theatrical and competitive sparring matches. While not really about wrestling, the story benefits from that world as its setting.

Verdict An intriguing and fresh work that will enthrall lovers of sports comics and noir.—Teresa Potter-Reyes, Helen Hall Lib., League City, TX

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