Creator: Tom Manning
Publisher: Robots and Monkeys Publishing
Review by Anelise Farris
ERIC, a brand-new graphic novel from creator Tom Manning (writer and illustrator of the critically-acclaimed graphic novel Runoff), is the latest in a recent string of comics to combine two of my favorite things: comics and music. ERIC tells the story of, well, Eric, who was a former rock n’ roll sensation—right at that golden time of California in the 60s and 70s—and is now an elderly addict struggling to come to terms with his “has-been” status.
This in itself is enough to have me intrigued, but wait, there’s more! Eric, determined to remain relevant, promotes his greatest hits album via live TV. In the process, he has a breakdown (shrooms may or may not have been involved) and finds himself in the middle of a multi-reality conspiracy. Clearly, in terms of plot, there are a lot of interesting elements being strung together in ERIC. The question remains, however, is whether it is executed well. And, I’m pleased to say YES on all fronts: writing, art, composition, subtext, etc. etc.
ERIC delivers a rock-n-roll narrative with the depth of Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy and the whims of LA-star life. Manning’s writing manages to pace itself beautifully alongside Eric’s fluctuating personality—from the frenzied, paranoid self to the 3am zoned-out-in-front-of-the-tv self. Never once does the dialogue feel fabricated or stilted, and this can also be attributed to the liveliness of the art. It is black and white, and—to be honest—as someone who has a hard time watching old movies, black and white is not my favorite. That said, it works really well here. Manning is able to instill a crazy amount of emotion into the simple linework and skilled use of shadowing.
Verdict: Buy it.
ERIC is more than a story of life after fame. It is about exposing the underbelly of pop culture and exploring that artifice that seems to come along as part of the game. With clear writing and stellar black-and-white art, Tom Manning has another hit on his hands.
ERIC is available via Amazon today, June 1, 2018.