*Steady Beat Book 1 — Recommended

Steady Beat is a fascinating blend of a wide variety of elements and influences: teen romance, manga, and political drama. Sixteen-year-old Leah has grown up in the shadow of her big sister Sarai. Even when Leah scores an important goal during the school soccer championship, her glory is short-lived, as her varsity captain sister is coaching. To be fair, Sarai gives Leah a chance to demonstrate her skills and responsibility, but Leah gets distracted by a discovery that will change everyone’s lives.

From Sarai’s bag falls a passionate, devoted love letter signed “Jessica”. Leah’s never suspected that her perfect older sibling could be gay, and given that their mother is a Republican senator in Texas, the ramifications might be immense. It’s such a difficult subject for her that instead of asking her sister about it, Leah responds to an anonymous phone caller who claims to know about the letter. Her blackmail adventure winds up introducing her to Elijah, a boy her age who might become much more personally important to her. Not only are Leah and Elijah attracted to each other, but he lives with two dads.

Steady Beat Book 1 cover
Steady Beat Book 1
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This is a girly thing to say, but the way Rivkah handles her characters’ hair is to be commended. Too many comic artists don’t pay enough attention to styles and what they mean to girls, but it’s an important part of teen life that adds realism. Even if artists give their characters a well-chosen hairstyle, too often they don’t think about how the character might change it for different situations or moods. Rivkah, on the other hand, clearly knows the difference between long hair, really long hair, curly, and wavy. Readers may notice how Leah’s style stays the same but the details of her barrettes change. For instance, during one scene with her sister, they’re symbolic rows of hearts.

That’s only one element of character design, an area where Rivkah overall demonstrates a lot of skill. Her girls are attractive but not exaggeratedly so, and there’s a wide range of personality traits shown. Also fun is the elephant that shows up when characters are purposely not talking about significant revelations; he’s the “elephant in the room”, get it? He’s just one example of the way Rivkah uses visual vocabulary to keep the story moving. She’s also got a good handle on manga-styled exaggeration, using more cartoony versions of the characters to indicate strong emotion.

I did see a little room for improvement. The “waking up next to someone else with no memory” is a bit clichéd, and I didn’t find it at all believable that he carried her through the next eight pages because she’d twisted her ankle (paging Jane Austen). There’s a lot going on here, perhaps a little too much, but many teens will enjoy the feeling of the story going off in all directions with lots of potential for future volumes. Between family and friends, Leah’s got a lot to manage, and she’s so likable that the reader will want to see how she handles it all.

Also included in this volume are a sketchbook section with comments from the author and a lengthy preview of another Tokyopop title. Rivkah has a blog and a website, plus her original webcomic version of Steady Beat can be read online. She’s also been interviewed by Queenie Chan (The Dreaming), another manga creator.

10 Responses to “*Steady Beat Book 1 — Recommended”

  1. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I enjoyed the first volume of this series, although I was concerned that maybe a bit too much was being attempted — it seemed that the book had more plots and revelations than it might have space for. Things are much more focused here in book two. […]

  2. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Now available at PW Comics Week, my interview with Rivkah, author of Steady Beat. […]

  3. Happy Valentine’s Day » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] A couple more cute holiday goodies: online Valentines featuring Steady Beat characters, and a gay penguin love story (via). […]

  4. Mangaka America » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Kim Ganter (Sorcerers & Secretaries), Felipe Smith (MBQ), Corey Rey Lewis (Sharknife), Rivkah (Steady Beat), and M. Alice LeGrow (Bizenghast). Ms,Shatia Hamilton (Fungus Grotto webcomic) provides a digital […]

  5. Steady Beat Delayed, Not Cancelled » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Book 3 was listed as “cancelled by publisher”, because I have very much enjoyed the previous volumes. Then I saw that the author was having discussions with her publisher over whether the […]

  6. Tokyopop OEL — Able to Create a Satisfying Ending? » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] rescheduled is Steady Beat. The series has improved with every book, so I’m greatly anticipating it, even though it has […]

  7. MoCCA Art Festival 2009 (Johanna) » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] had had breakfast beforehand with Ed, Rivkah, and her friend Matt Bernier, also an artist. (His minicomic Out of Water, the story of a boy and a […]

  8. Tokyopop Sells Print on Demand Books » Manga Worth Reading Says:

    […] that never finished in print. I started hoping to see some of the other uncompleted series, like Steady Beat, but then I realized that those books would have to be written and drawn first. I think […]

  9. Tokyopop’s Demise Spurs Deep Thinking, Memories of Favorite Series I’ll Miss » Manga Worth Reading Says:

    […] by Viz (with 217). That count does include their OEL titles, of which my favorites were Dramacon, Steady Beat, and Kat & Mouse. All created by women, which perhaps isn’t surprising, but I […]

  10. Which Manga Titles Do You Want to See Rescued? » Manga Worth Reading Says:

    […] ownership of the OEL titles to their creators. Maybe then I could finally read the ending of Steady Beat. […]




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