Review: Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson

The first book I picked up at SPX this year was Box Office Poison, because the man staffing the Top Shelf table totally knew how to sell to me. I forgot what he said, I just know that I quickly parted with my cash and resigned myself to toting this massive tome through the tiny, crowded space that somehow becomes more massive as each second goes by for the rest of a long, exhausting, and exciting day.

When I brought it home, it was time for triage: limited time, scads of books, which ones must I read, lest I parish. BOP failed several rounds of triage because the general specs were not looking good: a novel about writers (groan)? Living in New York (double groan)? Trying to make it in this crazy world? Oh, and look on the cover…we get it from the perspective of three men! Fantastic! I’m dying to read about the plight of male writers. Wonder which one of the writers the one hot chick on the cover is sleeping with? I guess I’ll just have to wait six months to find out, because just thinking about it is forcing me to yawn myself to death.

I was right about the hot chick, but in all other respects, Mr. Robinson made me eat my words because I really could not wait to finish this book once I got around to picking it up. It is a story about people, coming of age, growing up, etc.,  But the characters are so well fleshed out you will recognize them as individuals from your own life. Everyone is flawed but earnestly doing the very best he or she can. No bad guys, no good guys, and super heros exist only in the imagination of permanently aspiring writers.

The best part of the book for me was the fact that Mr. Robinson could really write from the perspective of women. It’s tragically rare to see this in any medium, quite frankly, and graphic novels are no exception. However, the women in BOP come in various shapes and sizes and are treated with the same respect and nuance that male characters typically enjoy. Robinson does not use drinking, sex, or ambition as tropes with which to indicate “this is a bad girl”. Women on the heavier-side are not used for ridicule or comedic footballs.

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