We continue our look at some of the great books debuting at this month’s Thought Bubble 2019 with a look at Golf Girl from Christopher Hazeldine – but will this be worthy of a hole in one or a bogey?
Publisher: Christopher Hazeldine
Writer/Artist: Christopher Hazeldine
Becky Jones is your average sixteen year old, balancing family life, school and a job she hates. But in Becky’s case that means working at the rather tedious Golf World, which isn’t ideal for someone who hates golf. On one particular shift though, a bright light fills the sky and she is possessed by the spirit of a ‘spritegeist’, which is a kind of happy alien spirit who gives her golf powers – which is not ideal for someone like her who hates golf. But it also sets her on a course against the mysterious paramilitary scientists of ReaLabs.
While some of this may sound all very serious, Golf Girl is a book which is played more for laughs than drama. From the first page and the debut of a recurring joke about a seagull stealing chips it is a genuine laugh out loud read. And recurring jokes are definitely a theme, from the seagulls, to Becky’s constant put downs about people who like golf to the joke about Realabs not being a gym. It’s a wonderfully witty and frequently funny read, and one which is definitely pushed along by its characters rather than the action. Whether that is the attitude filled Becky, her sarcastic buddy Jen or put upon scientist Iain – whose involvement with the mysterious ReaLabs (which definitely isn’t a gym) will be the main thrust of the story.
In a lot of ways it reminded us of the brilliant Giant Days and the way John Allison builds his stories around dialogue and character – but also fleshes the whole thing out with some unlikely side stories. In Golf Girl it’s the spritegeist and ReaLabs which gives the book it’s background plot, but really it’s all about the characters. With so much emphasis on character, the actual narrative parts of the story (i,e the appearance of the spirtegeist and ReaLabs) feels a bit shunted to the end of the book like an after thought. However, when you have had so much quality character work, we forgive this slight imbalance.
Visually the book is solid with a very traditional, classic cartoon style to it that wouldn’t feel out of place in the Beano or The Phoenix. However it is perhaps a bit too loose in places to be a contender for either. It’s told in black and white and could do with being a bit tighter or more polished to help it really hit that next level. But this is never enough to take away from the overall enjoyment of the book. It definitely feels like the kind of book where once writer/artist Hazeldine gets more confident and more accomplished it will become more polished (especially if it were to get coloured), but for now it has a charming roughness to this opening chapter.
A fantastically funny and wonderfully witty read, this is definitely a book which is heading for a below par score and deserves not to get lost in the long grass!