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‘Merry-Go-Round’ OGN (review)

Written by Sergio Rossi
Art by Agnese Innocente
Published by Dark Horse Comics


From the back cover of Merry-Go-Round: “Life as Teenager is Full of Challenges and Learning Moments”, from love triangles to missed dates and beyond.  Merry-Go-Round features the stories of a group of young people just trying to get through their day-to-day life, all while romance and simply growing up are throwing up roadblocks along the way.

Based on the Arthur Schnitzler play of the same name, this volume is a perfect encapsulation of growing up and trying to figure everything out.  We’re also told that this adaptation by Sergio Rossi, with artwork from Agnese Innocente, has won awards, including one for Best Comic Book for a Young Audience—this despite sexual themes, nudity, and adult language.

Maybe it’s because my teenage years were absolutely nothing like what goes on in Merry-Go-Round but I just didn’t get it. I could not relate in the slightest.

Even worse, I couldn’t figure out exactly what was going on most of the time, or who it was going on with.

Merry-Go-Round introduces us to a number of fairly generic young characters and each chapter essentially mixes them up in different romantic or sexual situations, with emphasis often on the repercussions of same.

We get glimpses of genuine emotions but mostly uncertainty, timidity, and angst.

The chapter on two couples playing an RPG is interesting, and I particularly liked the way the chapter in which one young woman’s possible pregnancy was dealt with. The teasing messaging in the opening chapter also grabbed my attention but ultimately didn’t really go anywhere.

Part of the problem is, as I said, nothing like any of these things ever happened to me. But then maybe I was unusual in that. Maybe most of you actually COULD relate. I don’t know.

The biggest part of the problem, though, is that I just didn’t really care about any of the characters. In the end, they seemed to be as interchangeable and ultimately meaningless as their various relationships.

As Merry-Go-Round is translated from the original Italian edition published in 2020, it may well be that something is lost in the translation as far as the writing. The book’s English translation is credited to Carla Roncalli di Montorio.

I do quite like the art style, though, although it does remind me quite a bit of the art in a number of other books I’ve written about here in recent years. Not so much derivative, I’d venture to guess, as it is just a currently popular style that’s developed. It’s light and easy drawings, augmented nicely by the deft use of color. With no credited colorist, I’m left to assume that Signora Innocente is talented in that area as well.

Graphic novels have long been a more accepted art form in Europe, much more so than in America, and I salute Dark Horse for importing so many award-winning books to the US these days and introducing so many worthy creators to potential new audiences.

I just wish I could say I liked this one more.


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