Sparks: An Urban Fairytale

This may be a story you think you’ve heard before: a princess, a knight, magic, and perils overcome by true love. You’d be wrong. In this version, the princess is a car mechanic, the knight a sweet and melancholy mechanical product of her loneliness, and the perils are the far more common dangers of prejudice, violence, low self-esteem, and the cruelty of expectations, both the world’s and the ones we put on ourselves. Jo, our princess, is a stick of a girl with little more than genius mechanical know-how and a sweet nature to get her through the world. Sometimes that’s enough, especially on the night she creates, with a Frankensteinian addition of lightning, a metal knight built entirely from spare car parts. Most of the time, though, the glares of “real” girls Jo desperately wants to be, the bellowing of a drunken father, the silence of valium-addled of a mother, and the stream of disappointments in her social life affect Jo more than she’d like to admit. Her one source of comfort is the unlikely knight: he learns to speak through flashcards, dubs himself Galahad, and carries Jo across the night rooftops far away from her troubles. In teaching Galahad about the world, Jo begins to see a way out of her life, as well as the problems she must face before she can be what she dreams. The artwork in this tale is fluid and simple — utterly perfect for the story presented. Too much detail might have made Galahad unbelievable, but the calligraphic lines of Marvit’s work make every line a soulful look or a shimmer of movement. Love, loss, and a wandering path to independence weave through Sparks — it is not a tale I will soon forget. Great for older teens and adults.

Sparks: An Urban Fairytale
ISBN: 0943151627
by Lawrence Marvit
Slave Labor Graphics 2002

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