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‘Goldie Vance’ Vol 1 & 2 (review)

Goldie Vance Volume 1
Goldie Vance Volume 2
Written by Hope Larsen
Illustrated by Brittney Williams
Colored by Sarah Stern 
V. 1 ISBN: 978-1608868988
V. 2 ISBN: 978-1608869749
Published by BOOM! Box
V.1 Released 10/11/16 / $9.99
V.2 Released 5/9/17 / $14.99

 

I’ve never been all that big on surprises but every once in a while one comes along out of the blue and quickly and thoroughly wins me over.

Such is the case with Ms. Goldie Vance.

Until now, I had never heard of Goldie Vance nor of Hope Larson, Brittney Williams or Sarah Stern, the trio who crafted her first two adventures here, collected from what were, according to the Grand Comics Database, a dozen comic book issues from BOOM! Studios in 2016…which I had also never seen nor heard of before.

Thus my big surprise that as I type this, Goldie Vance is now my new favorite character!

Her stories seem to be aimed at a younger readership, the level that many bookstores label “Intermediate.” It’s no secret that in the past 20 years or so, it’s those tween and teen novels that are some of the best-written books out there. Many are far better reads than the often cookie cutter thrillers and romances that monopolize the so-called “adult” bestseller lists.

But then there have always been excellently written children’s books that can be enjoyed by adults. Remember Eloise by Kay Thompson (no relation) and Hillary Knight from the 1950s? That was the one about the little girl who lived in a hotel and had adventures there.

Well, that’s Goldie Vance…sort of. At 16, she’s a little older but she’s a young girl whose father manages a Florida resort hotel where she’s been raised her entire life. She works parking cars but her dream is to one day soon become the hotel detective. Toward that end, she has made herself the unofficial sidekick to Walter, the man whose job she covets.

She knows everyone working at the hotel and nearby and she knows which ones would be likely to have picked up info on any case she might be working on, with or without Walter.

The stories are set in the early 1960s, as per a calendar in Walter’s office in Volume One and a footnote about 1963 M.I.T. tuition in Volume 2. This allows for Soviet spies in the background of the first one and astronauts playing a major role in the second. Otherwise, though, there is a modern feel to the whole thing character-wise since many of the main characters are African-American including Goldie and her father, and he’s divorced from a white woman (who’s also a mermaid…sorta). Goldie’s best friend Cheryl is hoping to become an astronaut, in spite of being black and female in that era. There’s no hint of racial issues in either volume, though, which gives Goldie’s world the breezy, lighthearted air of a fantasy sixties where there was no need for a Civil Rights movement.

The artwork is just downright fun! The faces reminds me a bit of Wendy Pini’s great color work while showing an obvious, but not overwhelming, manga influence throughout. The characters are so well defined visually and so well written that I could actually hear their distinct voices and accents in my head as I read! That doesn’t always happen.

Both adventures are well paced with each original comic serving not as a “chapter” but as a section, say, of a TV movie leading up to the next commercial. The layouts are consistently cinematic, creative, and easy to follow.

Volume One introduces our teen heroine as she attempts to recover a cheap stolen necklace and find out why so many folks are after it. There’s hot rod racing, helicopters, disguises and a car chase. Volume two deals with a secret underwater base and an amnesiac beauty pageant contestant found on the beach in a spacesuit. The joy of both volumes is in the unique and sometimes questionable ways Goldie deals with all of these distractions.

On the negative side, the first volume suffers from a deus ex machina ending where a character who hasn’t even been in the story shows up and too handily fixes some of the problems Goldie has inadvertently caused. We don’t even get to see what happens, here or in volume two. It’s just…fixed. The second story has pages of art that look like they may have been done smaller and then blown up. Quite a few panels show a dearth of backgrounds as well.

But in the end, none of that kept Goldie Vance herself, the plucky budding detective, from becoming my new favorite character. We learn some about Goldie from her dialogue but quite a bit also from her facial expressions and how she adjusts her attitude between the various different folks with whom she comes in contact.

Like I said, Goldie’s world isn’t our real world, certainly not in 1962 and not in 2017, but today, for me, it sure has been a nice escape from our REAL real world. I do hope Goldie Vance, Walter, Cheryl and all their friends get to have some more fun adventures soon!

 

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