A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Jane Yolen's _Foiled_

Jane Yolen's new graphic novel Foiled is about a teenage girl who is a skilled fencer (not the Tom Sawyer kind; the kind with swords, or weapons, as they're called in the text) and uses her knowledge of parrying and thrusting to explain her relationship with a certain young boy. Sounds hot and heavy, but it isn't.

The story is basically a jumble of mixed metaphors and underdevelopment of everything, with some bad magic thrown in that conveniently develops in the third quarter of the book when the main character puts on her fencing mask -- something she's done thousands of times before with no wizards or trolls -- in Grand Central Station while waiting on a date.

I will say I admire the effort. Certainly Yolen has proved herself a capable writer in other forms. This one, to continue the fencing language, simply misses the mark. What it reveals to me is that while it is great to see writers in other genres or mediums, not all of them will have smash hit-level successes with their efforts. I actually see this as a compelling actuality, in that it shows how difficult it is to create an exemplary graphic narrative. Not every author from other forms will be able to make a coherent story or work with an artist (not an illustrator, as Mike Cavallaro is called on the book's cover) such that what needs to be said is fully said and what needs to be conveyed through images is what gets conveyed as such.

When otherwise skilled writers struggle to do well and have their struggling efforts published in sequential art narrative, I celebrate the effort and the affects: helping us all see how complex and difficult comics can be, and thereby engendering more respect for those who do them well.

So, while not a great read or an inspirational graphic novel, I can't say Foiled should remain shrinkwrapped.

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