There Are No Stars in Brooklyn, by Meredith Gran

Meredith Gran's graphic novel Octopus Pie: There Are No Stars in Brooklyn is frequently compared to Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series, and the two comics do share a certain hipster vibe. Unlike O'Malley's insufferably cutesy books, however, Octopus Pie doesn't make me want to light myself on fire. Instead, Gran's series is consistently funny and genuine, with a cast of likable, multifaceted characters.

Introduced in 2007, Octopus Pie is an award-winning webcomic about two Brooklynites: Eve, a grumpy organic grocery store clerk who personifies the phrase "overeducated and underemployed", and her roommate Hanna, the sunny-tempered, perpetually stoned owner of the Bake'n'Bake (which is exactly what it sounds like). Most of the book's sardonic humor comes from Eve and Hanna's daily lives, although Gran tosses in the odd wacky hijink to spice things up, like an epic "Nerds vs. Stoners" laser tag battle or Eve's bout with paranoia after her beloved bicycle is stolen.

In the last two story arcs (out of thirteen) included in There Are No Stars in Brooklyn, Gran's artwork makes a disconcerting switch from clean, digitally-enhanced images to hand-drawn ink illustrations, which gives the book a weirdly homemade feel. There isn't a huge difference between the two styles, but I preferred the earlier one. The fussier backgrounds and shakier lines in the hand-drawn strips distract from Gran's appealingly simple character designs, and I had to spend too much time trying to re-determine who was who.

The series I was most often reminded of while reading Octopus Pie wasn't Scott Pilgrim. It was Sex and the City, if someone had updated Sex and the City to feature A) less sex, B) younger, dorkier characters, and C) a post-economic-downturn financial reality. Since the only things I actually liked about Sex and the City were its setting and its portrayal of unshakable female friendship, I consider Gran's book to be a considerable upgradeā€”and, despite her characters' goofy comic-book antics, I suspect she has actually written a more realistic portrait of single women living in New York City.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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