Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Yeah well... look I was just wondering... this is a little awkward... but it's just we saw one of your old posters... and I couldn't help but notice one of the faces and look just... do you know anything about that girl who died?"
"You know, the gymnast or contortionist or whatever?"
"It's just we saw this old poster and she was on it and..."
"Anyway I was just curious...
"CURIOUS! About a dead woman? A dead woman you've never met?"
As main character Malorey Hassan said herself, awkward! Quite why Mal has got such a bee in her bonnet about a deceased performer of Parvati's Circus I don't know. But it is certainly going to get Mal and her friend Eddie into some increasingly exciting social situations, that's for sure, as they start to investigate precisely what it is that the carnies are covering up. Oh, and some trouble, of course, obviously!
This is the second self-published graphic novella from Verity LIKE A SHARK IN A SWIMMING POOL Hall, and it's lovely to see her continued development both in terms of storytelling and art. This work is the first volume in an ongoing series, so it's also great to see there are no limits to her ambition too! By the end of this first instalment I was sufficiently hooked from what juicy details Mal and Eddie have uncovered in their investigations so far - plus some other reveals regarding the characters including one huge reveal regarding Mal herself - to want to know more!
Verity has created some characters with real heart and depth here. I found myself beginning to care as much about them as I was intrigued about just what's really going on underneath the big top... Fortunately for me, Madame Parvati's mysterious decision that the circus will stay in their sleepy back water town indefinitely should ensure I get some answers...
In terms of the art, I think it is pretty fair to make the comparison to John Allison's very early SCARY GO ROUND material. If you look at what John is producing today, you can see how much progress he has made in the meantime, and I don't doubt Verity has the same intent. This is very colourful, very expressive. It perhaps feels a touch too much so in places, occasionally I found myself noticing I was observing why the construction of a panel had broken my concentration on the story for example.
I think Verity just needs to continue naturally softening her style, which I can see has happened already from LIKE A SHARK IN A SWIMMING POOL. But overall this is an excellent example of the level, in terms of the story, art and production values, that just starting out self-publishers today need to be aspiring to. Verity evens includes a pack of four prints and two stickers featuring the cast as a little bonus.