The Comic Queen

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Monday, November 29, 2004

Scandalous Joint Review

Scandalous from Scandalous
Written by J. Torres; Illustrated by Scott Chantler; Afterword by Ande Parks
Oni Press $9.95

KERRY: Scandalous is a graphic novel that got great reviews when it was released back in August. I was interested in the book, but neither comic book shop in town had it. Then the book just fell out of my mind. There were so many other books to read. Luckily for me, though, Erin won the book in an ICAA contest, giving us both the chance to read and review it.

ERIN: Yea for the ICAA! I was ecstatic to win this book because it was a title I had been wanting to read but just didn’t have the funds to purchase it.

KERRY: Scandalous tells the story of Hollywood and its tabloid papers and gossip columns in the 1950s during the red scare. Hollywood has a reigning gossip queen, the icy Paige Turner, but new guy on the scene Harry Richards soon threatens her turf. The battle of will and words between Turner and Richards ends up being the most talked about scandal in town.

ERIN: Another important point of the book was the impact the McCarthy era had, and the nearly uninhibited power certain individuals wielded about -- namely Walter Winchell, the real-life Paige Turner. In many ways, Scandalous is a history lesson wrapped in a fictional tale.

KERRY: The first thing you notice about Scandalous is its stunning art. Chantler outdoes himself here by capturing not only the setting of the 1950s, but the style of the 1950s as well. The panels have a retro feel. Many are laid out in interesting ways. Sometimes there is an extreme close up on a yelling mouth to give it extra emphasis. Many panels also have an interesting point of view and are drawn from the perspective of crouching behind a table or standing around a corner. This style especially makes it feel like you are spying on the characters, like you are a voyeur partaking in the gossip yourself.

ERIN: Chantler’s strong lines and bold inking create a simple feel to the artwork, but there is an amazing amount of detail, especially in the backgrounds. From the opening spread showcasing key Hollywood landmarks to cars in a traffic scene, to the many backdrops of bars and homes, Chantler transports the reader to the 1950s. In fact, I enjoyed his work on this book so much, I plan to pick up any project in the future that has Chantler’s name on it.

KERRY: The only part of the art that disappointed me was the cover. It is very plain and doesn’t capture either theme of the book, the 1950s or tabloids. The cover just doesn’t draw attention to the book like it should. The book is exciting and that should be conveyed on the cover.

The story is fast-paced and the words and pages fly by. I have to admit that although I liked the story very much and thought the ending was appropriate, I still felt like it was missing something. It was almost as if a few pages were left out near the end.

ERIN: Now, this is where I disagree. I thought Torres and Chantler did a great job of bringing the story back around. We figuratively and literally end up back where we started. The circle has come around once again. This point is highlighted in the afterword, by Ande Parks, as well. Parks points out that “If we don’t remember the likes of McCarthy and Winchell, we will have no chance to recognize them the next time they roll around.” I thought the book illustrated this nicely.

KERRY: The inclusion of the afterword was a smart idea as it added value and interest to the book. Parks’s writing is very strong, and it was great to read about the actual events of the McCarthy era. The afterword was a great way to wrap-up the story and give a few final facts to the reader.

Scandalous is an excellently drawn book with grand style. It’s an interesting story to boot making it a recommend read.

Kerry’s Bottom Line: B+
Erin’s Bottom Line: A-


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