GRAPHIC NOVELS

Child Star

First Second. Jun. 2020. 240p. ISBN 9781250154071. pap. $19.99. Rated: Teen+. f
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This deep slice of 1980s nostalgia from Brown (Tetris) cleverly leverages tropes common in celebrity documentaries to present a portrait of a talented child star experiencing career highs and lows. When Owen Eugene speaks the words, I just don’t understand, on television, the catchphrase ignites a revolution. His lovable character Keaton in the fictional sitcom Everyone’s Friend becomes a cultural phenomenon for millions of viewers throughout the Eighties. People recognize that Owen, while on the small side for his age, dealt with serious health complications that affected his growth, and while he was able to parlay his comic timing and youthful appearance into ratings gold for the entertainment industry, he could never fully escape from himself and lead a normal life. What’s more, nobody can stay young forever, thus even the ability to be the lovable television youth eventually moves beyond his considerable capabilities. His parents, costars, agents, and fans all interact with the young celebrity, but can they ever truly understand him?
VERDICT This complex portrait of how entertainment stories and personalities permeate the airwaves to become a part of people’s genuine lives, from those watching at home to those involved in the show’s creation, is thought provoking and poignant yet honest in its humanity. [Previewed in Douglas Rednour’s “Picture This,” LJ 6/20.]

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