You'd do well to fear The 50 Book Challenge!

#7. Tricked by Alex Robinson – I generally hate the term “graphic novel,” but that’s a very accurate description of this book, so I’ll suck up my pride this time. Tricked, the gi-normously sized new graphic novel by Alex Robinson, might just be one of the best character studies in the history of the comic book form. The story follows six people – a reclusive rock star, an office temp, a waitress, a young runaway, an autograph counterfeiter, and a psychotically obsessed music fan – whose lives gradually begin to intersect over time until they are all finally brought together in a final act that manages to seem both inevitable and shocking at the same time. It reads a bit like a comic book version of Short Cuts, really. And if that seems like a lofty comparison, rest assured this book lives up to it admirably. The characters could be one-note caricatures very easily – the waitress who is unlucky in love, the girl in search of the father she has never met, the washed-up musician seeking his muse – but like those from the Robert Altman movie or the Raymond Carver stories that inspired it, they each have those unique quirks and qualities that somehow make them as real as the people you know.

Robinson proved that he had the chops to create moving, compelling, character-driven stories in his previous work, Box Office Poison (which is also collected in a phone book-sized graphic novel). BOP, however, was originally published in serial comic book form, and shows some of the drawbacks native to that format (most notably a shift in plotline focus – as the initial main character’s storyline stalls, a previously secondary character pretty much takes over the whole book). Robinson has obviously learned from his prior experiences, though, as the story in Tricked never waivers from the field of vision laid out in the early pages. Whether or not this would have been the case if this had been published in serial form instead of a completed, original graphic novel is impossible to tell. And honestly, it probably doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that this is a great book that deserves to be read. If you’re at all open to reading comic books or graphic novels or whatever the hell you want to call ‘em, then you should read this book ASAP. If you’ve never read a comic before, then this is a hell of a place to start. Box Office Poison is well worth your time, too, so go and buy both today. Alex Robinson is a true talent, and a hell of a nice guy, so you’d all do well to throw some money his way at your earliest convenience.

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