- Posted by Johanna on September 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: story by John Leavitt; art by Molly Crabapple
- PUBLISHER: Fugu Press; $12.95 US
If you’ve enjoyed the historical tales of Rick Geary (especially The Adventures of Blanche) but thought they needed more sex, or if you liked Miss Don’t Touch Me but wanted less murderous mayhem, then Scarlett Takes Manhattan is the book for you.
The premise is simple: famous burlesque queen Scarlett O’Herring tells us the story of her life and how she came to her profession, from orphaned chambermaid to fire-eater and stripper. Along the way, she touches on class distinctions, lesbianism, remaining true to yourself, costuming, politics, and the value of accidents in affecting the course of our lives.
The opening, where we see her in bed with the gentleman she’s telling her story to, sets the mood: intimate, teasing, playful, and since she’s telling her own story, somewhat unreliable. Crabapple’s cartoony-yet-ornate style is very well-suited to the period. Sometimes it’s just silly, as when she draws the extraordinarily phallic ice cream Scarlett enjoys early on. Other times, the whorls in Scarlett’s hair matches the flames that lick around her face, creating beauty from the extreme.
I appreciate seeing a book where sex is fun as well as an entertainment. It seems that the purpose and manipulations of show business hasn’t changed all that much in 100-some years. The second half of the book thrusts Scarlett into the political machines of the time, illustrating how power-seekers have always used the mass medium of their era to manipulate. Don’t worry, though — once again, sex saves the day.
It’s 48 pages, in color, and it’s available now through Amazon or you can order it from your local comic shop with Previews code OCT09 0905 for arrival in January.
Molly Crabapple and John Leavitt have also worked together on Backstage, a webcomic at Act-i-vate about vaudeville in the 1900s; this book is kind of a prequel to that strip. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the author.)