I’ve always had trouble picking up new graphic novels because I can never be sure if it will capture and maintain my interest enough for me to endure the wait between updates. For this reason, I was greatly surprised when I took an immediate liking to the cover of Theatrics by Neil Gibson the founder and CEO of TPub Comics. And after reading this description from the publisher’s website, I knew I was going to be hooked:
In 1920’s New York, Rudi is the king of Broadway and living the American Dream… until he’s robbed, beaten and left for dead. Horribly disfigured, penniless and broken he finds himself pursuing a new career of blood, sweat and tears.
But with violence dogging his every step, can Rudi still make it as a star?
Gibson’s work snares an impressive three demographics right off the bat: theatre lovers, period drama enthusiasts and fight night fans. Of course, that means this isn’t your typical Prohibition-era story. The plot of the novel takes off quickly but maintains a steady speed of character development that encapsulates the classic hero archetype. Love and loss heavily influence the emotion and drive of the novel, giving it a highly relatable vibe that will be felt by all audiences. The ability to cater to a broad spectrum of audiences is sometimes difficult to master, but it seems that Gibson has hit the nail on the head.
The main protagonist, Rudi, goes through an interesting transformation as he adjusts to a new life after his stardom is ripped away from him. He may have been living the American Dream before, but his situation forces him, and the audience, to rethink what being a “star” truly means. Rudi’s story juggles the themes of an identity crisis and coping with loss and betrayal while carrying a strong undertone of the dangers of complacency. Not only this, but Rudi’s need to rebuild his life and sort out his identity greatly reflects the imminent doom his country will face further into the decade. The relatability of Rudi’s character and situation make the audience question what they would do if faced with the same dilemmas, which only serves to draw readers even deeper into the plot with each update.
The artwork of the novel, delivered by Leonardo Gonzalez, is also tremendously noteworthy. Before realizing exactly which path Rudi is destined to follow, I had already noted how well the fight scenes were choreographed and depicted — and so did my boyfriend, who is both a boxing coach and notorious for reading over my shoulder (yes, I DID have to send him the link immediately). I particularly loved reading this work on Webtoons because of the commentary Gibson offered, and one comment that stuck with me noted that Gonzalez loves to draw close-up shots of faces. It’s clear that this is one of his strong suits, and the emotion practically pours off the page his close-up shots.
It seems that Neil Gibson and Leonardo Gonzalez have a unique way of feeding off one another’s creative energy to craft such an emotionally charged and gritty work. The blend of emotional turmoil, 1920’s aesthetic and raw masculine energy comes together incredibly well on every page and is sure to be a page-turning sensation for every reader, regardless of gender.
Sound like the perfect graphic novel to add to your collection? TGON readers can access Theatrics via Webtoons, but I highly suggest purchasing the print version from the TPub Comics online store. This version is signed and contains extra goodies you won’t see online! The next update will be available soon, so get caught up now!
Be sure to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter to let me know what you think of Theatrics!