Sunday, June 06, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 123 (6/6) -- Festering Romance by Renee Lott

I don't have a lot of time tonight -- I'm writing this the first evening of a long week at a conference for work -- and I don't want to jump on this book with both feet anyway, since it's a sweet little thing that works just fine by itself and doesn't need or require any critical heavy armament aimed in its direction. Festering Romance is the first full-length graphic novel by Renee Lott, a young cartoonist from Savannah (and, I would bet, a graduate of the Savannah College of Arts and Design, a version of which is in the background of this story), and it tells a low-key romance that doesn't punch its ending as it might -- and has some very noticeable manga-isms in the art along the way, not always integrated fully -- but is winning and deeply good-natured.

Janet is a student at an art college in Savannah -- note that up front, since her schoolwork doesn't come into the story at all other than a few brief mentions. She also lives alone in an apartment with the ghost of her childhood friend, Paul, and has an unexplained aversion to men and/or dating and/or any human contact. One day, she's set up on a blind date with Derek, whom she doesn't want to admit that she grudgingly likes, and that sets in motion the plot of Festering Romance -- Derek also lives with a ghost, and the secrets of Janet and Derek (and their ghosts) will bounce off each other and intertwine before Festering Romance comes to a conclusion.

(By the way: I really don't get why this story was named Festering Romance, so there's a definite possibility that I missed something major. Caveat lector.)

Lott's art and story do show a strong manga influence, with her characters' hair-trigger emotionalism (and their very fluid facial expressions to show those emotions) and the shojo-esque plot driven by omitted details and accusations of insufficient openness. (On the other hand, her very expressive figures draw equally from the rubber-hose anatomy of early animation; her people only rarely have definable elbows, and their sharp-featured faces have eyes that fall towards the dot end of the spectrum.) The deep focus on how the main characters feel towards each other -- and what they've told, and not told, each other -- are very reminiscent of shojo as well. But Lott does incorporate those influences into a story clearly her own, set in a millieu she knows. I hope, her next time out, she builds her story out a little further, thinking about the consequences of actions rather than concentrating on those initial moment of high emotion.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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