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Thursday, 5 January 2012

Gingerbread Girl

Writer: Paul Tobin
Artist: Colleen Coover
Publisher: Top Cow Comic Top Shelf Comix (not Top Cow, that's a different publisher, they publish Witchblade, not the most feminist of comics series, it's a bit porny, approach at own risk. Google them if you want)

What's it about?
It's about a girl who has a sister grown from her homunculus, by her mad scientist father.  Or it's about a girl who's a major tease and can't decide what she wants.  Or it's about a girl in the early stages of a new relationship.  Or it's about how other people see this girl.  Or it's about the effect of parental divorce.  Or it's just a fun little story full of fantasy and giggles.

Well, that last bit may not be true.  There's funny, unusual episodes, but it's not really a comedy.  Annah is the lead character, and she may or may not be crazy.  She thinks she has a sister, but it may be fantasy.  It may be real.  Who knows?  Either way, she thinks she's lost her sister and it's having a profound impact on her life. 

What's good about it?
The execution and plot is completely unexpected.  The back blurb asks
"Did Annah invent an imaginary sister named Ginger during her parents traumatic divorce?  Or did her mad scientist father extract part of her brain and transform it into a living twin?"

I think I expected a detective story, maybe something a bit cynical, a bit knowing, a bit too hipster-ish.  Whatever I did expect, this wasn't it.  It's heartwarming, a little sad (maybe a lot sad), definitely whimsical but also happy.  From Annah's point of view, life is confusing, maybe a little bleak.  From her girlfriend's and occasional boyfriend's point of view, life with Annah is madcap, infuriating and cute.

The book needs re-reading and it needs further consideration.  I think there's something brilliant about it, but I can't quite put my finger on what.  There's certainly enough there to make me want to write this review immediately after finishing it!  It is a keeper, most certainly.

What's bad about it?
Aw, this is a difficult one.  It's not easily digestible, because although it's just a snapshot of life, a little snippet if you will, it's not a straightforward, trope led story.  It's not complicated but it left me frustrated - I want to find out more, I want to see what happens next!  Then again, some would say that's the mark of a good story.  Whatever floats your boat.

What's the art like?
It's a serious subject (well parts of it are), but as I've said above, it's also a bit whimsical |(for example, the parts narrated by a pigeon).  Maybe that's more to do with Colleen Coover's art style than the characters or events  It is, ultimately, cute.  Coover uses only a few lines to draw people, nothing is busy, nothing is top heavy.  It's light and carefree.
The only colours used (in the printed book) are an orangey/tan colour, black and white.  the book was originally published as a free online webcomic, in black and white.  For comparison here are two panels, one from the book, one from the webcomic:
See the difference?  Both are easy to read (perfect for the day after new year's day then!) and both have their own charm.  The coloured ones are warmer, and I feel have more depth to them, but there's just as much expression and life in the online version. 

Other information
As said above, the webcomic is available for free.  If you read it and like it, please consider buying it - comic creators need our support!
Hardcopy details as follows:
Price: £9.99
ISBN: 1603090800
Here's an interview with Colleen Coover where she talks about Gingerbread Girl, the art process and her other work.


  1. Woah! This looks actually pretty good! and original too! :)

  2. Well said! One correction though: it's published by Top Shelf Comics, not Top Cow.

  3. @Steve: Yes, yes you are entirely right. I'm very very embarassed about that mistake. Top Shelf also set me right via Twitter. I have now changed the credits.
    *grovelling apologies*
    Sorry everyone! Let this be a lesson to me for proofreading. Anyone want to be my proof reader?
    PS Steve: we reviewed your Whiteout here:
    It's one of my favourite comics :)