Houdini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I suppose that when I read a book wherein the structure of the story itself reflects the tone, I should be appreciative. In this case, I'm just annoyed. The artwork in Houdini: The Handcuff King is sparse, not very structured, and, honestly, a bit trite. The story is much of the same. It's a little slice of biography about Houdini's chained and handcuffed jump at Harvard Bridge. One of Houdini's minor feats, though he plied it as a marketing opportunity, which, as the book relates, he was always seeking. Unfortunately, I felt that this was only a minor graphic novel that acts as a (rather expensive) advertisement for The Center for Cartoon Studies, which holds the copyright.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The foreshortened story was stilted, even jarring sometimes in its incompleteness. This shoddy storytelling wasn't, unfortunately, made up for by stunning artwork. Outside of the panel of Houdini jumping from Philadelphia's Market Street bridge, the artwork was pedestrian and uninspiring.
This is a book that could have breathed and been full of life. Instead, I felt much like Houdini must have while he was sinking into the cold water, struggling to be free of the claustrophobia of the story in which he found himself. He escaped. I didn't.
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