Queen of Kenosha

Howard Shapiro, Erica Chan (Il­lus­tra­tor), An­i­mal Me­dia (OC­TO­BER) Soft­cover (160pp), 978-0-9974315-2-0

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Graphic Novels -

Queen of Kenosha in­tro­duces Nina Over­street, an as­pir­ing per­former in the 1960s Green­wich Vil­lage mu­sic scene who be­comes in­ti­mately in­volved in the covert world of Nazis and se­cret ops.

The first book of Howard Shapiro’s Thin Thin­line Tril­ogy, Queen of Kenosha be­gins with Nina—raised in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin— singing at a New York City club. One of the on­look­ers is Nick Ladd, a se­cret agent who’s track­ing an un­der­ground Nazi group. Nina soon finds her­self wit­ness­ing, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in, a back-al­ley melee. Im­pressed by Nina’s self-de­fense skills, Nick be­lieves an agent with a cover as a per­former would be a great as­set, and he re­cruits Nina into his group.

What fol­lows is a deadly ad­ven­ture that of­fers spy thrills with a twist, as Nina and Nick ten­ta­tively ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship and Nina con­tin­ues to ad­vance her mu­sic ca­reer. Shapiro clearly loves mu­sic; his en­thu­si­asm in­fuses the book, es­pe­cially in chap­ter ti­tle pages, each of which fea­tures a rec­om­mended lis­ten­ing list with two real songs and one fic­tional one writ­ten by Nina Over­street. Shapiro takes the con­ceit even fur­ther, with full lyrics to all of Nina’s songs in­cluded at the back of the book, along with an al­bum cover.

Erica Chan’s art is ex­cel­lent. Though there’s an over­all sim­i­lar­ity in her con­struc­tion of faces, char­ac­ters are eas­ily dis­tin­guish­able. Com­plex emo­tions are cap­tured, like a word­less page-long se­quence in which Nina and Nick si­mul­ta­ne­ously con­sider call­ing each other, but don’t. Spies and mu­sic might not be the most ob­vi­ous pair­ing, but Queen of Kenosha does it with gusto.

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