Graphic Novels, August 3, 2018 | Xpress Reviews

Winsome, erotic, and hilarious, Betty’s adventures break the mold for cancer stories in pulling art and beauty out of tragedy; A quick read for fans of quest fantasy and postapocalyptic settings

Week ending August 3, 2018

redstarCazot, Vero (text) & Julie Rocheleau & Deron Bennett (illus.). About Betty’s Boob. Archaia: BOOM! Studios. Jun. 2018. 192p. tr. from French by Edward Gauvin. ISBN 9781684151646. $29.99. Rated: Mature. GRAPHIC NOVELS

Salesgirl in a high-fashion boutique, Betty loses a breast to cancer, her man to instant visceral repulsion, and her job, too, since her villainous boss can’t tolerate imperfect bodies among staff. After elaborate slapstick episodes in which she experiments with a prosthesis, loses her wig, and despairs of everything, Betty falls in with a troop of eccentric burlesque entertainers who help her turn her life around. In charming over-the-top sequences, Betty finds stardom on stage and a hunky new guy. She even designs both an act and a clothing line that take advantage of a cancerista’s chest asymmetry instead of hiding it. Cazot’s ( Les petites distances) nearly wordless story finds perfect realization in Rocheleau’s (La Colère de Fantômas) energetic, modernist color art, which draws on classic strip cartoons for impressive visual imagery portraying our protagonist’s suffering, her attempts to survive, and—what a finale!

VERDICT Winsome, erotic, and hilarious, Betty’s adventures break the mold for cancer stories in pulling art and beauty out of tragedy. Women college age and up will adore it, and many fem-friendly male readers will also. Note nudity and occasional sexual episodes, always plot anchored and nicely done.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia


Gibbons, Dave. The Originals: The Essential Edition. Berger: Dark Horse. May 2018. 192p. ISBN 9781506705620. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781506706177. Rated: Teen+. SF

Writer/illustrator Gibbons is the George Harrison of sequential art: when he’s part of a solid creative team, the results can be stellar (e.g., WatchmenMartha Washington Goes to War); on his own, it’s a mixed bag. Case in point: this reissue of his 2004 Eisner Award–winning monochrome graphic novel, a tribute to the Mods of the author’s UK youth, with the motor scooters, attire, music, clubs, and drugs reimagined in a retrofuture rather than simply remembered and re-created. Gibbons, handling all the writing, artwork, and lettering, obviously knew what he wanted to accomplish with this labor of love and went at it with precision, earnestness...and a shopworn coming-of-age story with characters lacking depth or resonance beyond archetypes. Besides, who was clamoring for a hardcover edition with 32 pages of archived art and annotations? Profanity, violence, and brief sexual content; suitable for YA and up.

VERDICT Then as now, The Originals is the same old grog in a fancy bottle—not bad but recommended only to fans of Gibbons and Mod culture.—J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB


Zachopoulos, K.I. (text) & Vincenzo Balzano & Deron Bennett (illus.). Run Wild. Archaia: BOOM! Studios. Jul. 2018. 144p. ISBN 9781684150243. $24.99. FANTASY

The team of Zachopoulos and Balzano (The Cloud) reunite to create a beautiful and unique vision of a postapocalyptic world in which reality changes overnight and everyone, everywhere has turned into animals—or almost everyone. Ava and younger brother Flynn, whose naïve optimism balances his sister’s cynicism, the last two humans on Earth, embark on a long journey to set things right. Aided by a clever fox, the siblings manage to elude the army of “long-gones” (animals who have forgotten they were once human) fighting against them, but what awaits them at the end of their travels? The stylized artwork perfectly matches and enhances the story’s surreal nature, possessing a striking contrast between the warm yellows in the panels dealing with humanity and civilization and the cold blues depicting the wild and our animal nature. More somber than whimsical, the narrative touches upon several deep topics but only lightly. The fast pace and disorientating, dreamlike quality don’t create many moments for reflection until the work’s completely finished. 
VERDICT A quick read for fans of quest fantasy and postapocalyptic settings.—Zach Berkley, Moline P.L., IL

LJ Reviews
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