For a fairly hefty book, Tricked doesn’t pick up steam until its final act. Up to that point, readers are treated to an ensemble drama — not unlike that of a P.T. Anderson or Robert Altman film — that follows the intertwining lives of a cast of characters. Central to the story are fading rock star Ray Beam and the man obsessed with him, Steve — a Mark Chapman type whose unraveling becomes the most compelling and best told of all the stories.
Steve is a dumpy, bug-eyed office worker with a combination of disorders. Plus, he’s an unsympathetic know-it-all prick with an unhealthy fixation on Ray and his career. While Steve’s life slides into the shitter, Ray’s picks up. He meets Lily, a temp with his management team, who becomes his assistant, romantic interest and key to overcoming writer’s block.
This touching romance suffers from being a tad melodramatic and clichéd. The rest of the cast is by no means unimportant, but, as in many one-off ensemble pieces, the characters are not fleshed out enough. Though never a personal favourite of mine, Robinson’s drawing style serves this story well, as he makes the large array of characters and body types distinct. By the final pages, as the tension builds and all the characters cross paths, you do care about what happens to them. Though Tricked shows potential as a great graphic novel, the lengthy book is undone by its excessive padding and indie movie aspirations. (Matthew Daley)
Alex Robinson, 350 pgs, Top Shelf Productions, topshelfcomix.com, $19.95