Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clubbing by Andi Watson and Josh Howard

Lottie is a very sharp, very with-it London goth girl. Being so sharp and with-it, she sometimes has to break the rules to get what she wants, but she's not really bad... So. Lottie is being punished for using a fake ID to get into a club, but how can you punish a kid who's got all the requisite gadgets and high-end fashion sense of a young modern urbanite? That's right. You send her to the country.

To be more specific, you send her to the country to stay with her sweet but slightly nutty grandparents who just happen to own a posh country club, complete with golf courses, caretakers, hiking tourists and lots of good English mud. How ever will City Mouse manage?

But despite feeling supremely sorry for herself she does manage, with sufficient style, wit and aplomb. She wins a cake decorating contest. She meets a strapping lad. She sabotages a crusty, leering golf shop owner. She discovers a corpse on the back 18.

Whoops! Did we forget to mention that this gothy little graphic novel is a mystery? Lottie's a far cry from Miss Marple but the quaint English setting does beg the comparison. Most clues seem to point to Lottie's own gruff-but-not-unpleasant grandfather as the culprit. The plot twists - not unpredictably - as Lottie and strapping Howard try to unravel the clues using their wits and the Internet, and what they discover leads them unwittingly into the lair of a somewhat Cthulhean cult.

I'm not sure, but I don't think Miss Marple ever had dealings with tentacled beasties.

Now, I've got a big soft spot for graphic novels, goth aesthetics and tentacled beasties. And when I find myself in the middle of reading a mystery I'm willing to give it a go, even though I don't find mysteries terribly thrilling. But even so I have to admit that, while perfectly suited as a light-hearted distraction, for me this book fell a little short of expectations. I like some of the other things that Andi Watson's done (I thought Paris was both lovely and fun) and I do still harbor some high expectations for the Minx line of graphic novels, but overall I thought Lottie could've been fleshed out a little more, perhaps made a little more 'real,' (that's not to say vulnerable. I liked that Lottie isn't overly vulnerable) by being a little less... I don't know... a little less with-it.

And to be honest, the only reason I'm even being this critical about the book is because I do have such high expectations for graphic novels. I want them to offer readers a little bit more to think about while still being fun. Having said that, there's really nothing wrong with this book as a quick, light-hearted fun mystery. This book is aimed, of course, at teen girls but may also be interesting to fans of the graphic novel, manga fans, folks who enjoy a little mystery in the English mud, and lovers of tentacled beasties everywhere.

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