Graphic novels and the syndicated cartoons that appear in newspapers are at polar opposite ends of the comics spectrum, particularly in terms of length. But The Legacy binds them together with a post-modern, behind-the-scenes take on the world of the cartoonist.
Chas Brown is the aptly-named son of a highly successful newspaper cartoonist. All he wants to do with his life is create left-field autobiographical graphic novels. But when his Dad passes away, he finds himself the natural successor to his father’s ultra-commercial and sickeningly twee newspaper strip.
Not wanting to say no, but not wanting to compromise his art either, he ends up taking on the job, essentially out of guilt. But to ensure the situation doesn’t take over his life, he aims to subvert the strip, publishing cartoons in such bad taste that the newspapers will have no option other than to cancel it.
The book mixes the formats of comic strip and graphic novel delightfully. The characters and art style have drawn inspiration from the world of cartooning. And the humour and pathos, too, have something of the newspaper strip about them. But the plot, dialogue and pacing is pure graphic novel.
This makes for a fun and original read. There’s a certain element of it falling between two stools and it has a strange incestuous feel about it – comics about people who make comics are a bit cannibalistic, but there’s a certain cleverness and style that’s been applied to this book. Although the subject matter may only hold much appeal to people who really like comics, I can happily count myself amongst that crowd – and I rather enjoyed it.