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‘Gingerbread Girl’: a graphic novel review

Gingerbread Girl is a collaboration between the (married) duo writer Paul Tobin and artist Colleen Coover. It takes place in Portland, OR and concerns the protagonist, Annah Billips, on a potential multiple personality disorder, of sorts. With that quick intro let’s jump into Gingerbread Girl!

Writing:

As mentioned already the narrative focused mainly on whether Annah has a sister, Ginger, that can feel her emotions. This split is theorized to occur after the dramatic divorce of her parents when she was a kid. There is no formal answer to this in the narrative (I have a pretty solid guess though). The whole narrative is focused on a date between between Annah and Chili. We don’t learn about Annah, or Chili, from their interactions. But rather, a series of many narrators who break the fourth wall and theorize about Annah’s situation. A great deal of these are random and people who hold no importance in the narrative whole. These narrations take more of the comic than actual time spent with Annah or Chili, which is a let down. While I would have been fine if there had been two, maybe three, different narrators. Instead, there are eight or nine different narrators!  (Maybe more, I gave up counting.) IT’S ANNOYING. It seemed to me that Tobin was trying to show how postmodern and avant-garde he could make the story. But it’s dumb. It would’ve been a lot better if the narrator part was turned down and the reader could figure out Annah ourselves. We’re not dumb, but the over reliance on narrators (and the multiplicity of them) makes me feel like I am being treated as such. The base story is actually quite good, but the way Tobin fleshes it out is just awful.

Art:

The art in the work is easily the best part about the work. I’ve seen Collver’s art before in side issues of various comics and I’ve always liked what I have seen. Her art tends to be more cartoon-ish, with simple, yet detailed character designs. The backgrounds were well drawn and do a good job at recapturing the scenery of Portland. It was sort of fun to notice places that I recognize. The colors in Gingerbread Girl are sepia-toned. There aren’t any strict panels for the most part. Thoughts that a narrator(s) explain are given ‘bubbly’ panels. It all comes off nicely actually. The visuals, in terms of paneling and the art itself, are the strongest part of the work. The art doesn’t quite make up for the narration flaws though.

Final Opinion:

Gingerbread Girl is a graphic novel that had a lot of potential. A talented artist and an interesting foundation story. While the execution of the art is done well, the same can’t really be said for the narrative. Tobin is overly dependent of narration from the characters, most of them not relevant to the story. It distracts from the story itself. I had more fun spotting places I knew in Portland than listening to the narrator’s talk about random stuff. I recommend this to people who enjoy the concept of many narrators. While the art is good, I wouldn’t say it’s good enough for the read. I liked the art, the basic story, but just hate the way it was written.

Gingerbread Girl is created and owned by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover. Tobin serves as writer and Cover as artist. It’s published by Top Shelf Productions

My favorite panel

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