Review: Suzanne Collins 'FAME' Biography Wednesday 22 February, 2012

By Mindy Crouchley, Guest Reviewer

Katniss Everdeen is an incredible fictional heroine, soon to be appearing on the big screen in a Hollywood blockbuster adaptation of the successful Hunger Games book series. But what about Suzanne Collins, the author behind this multi-faceted character?

To learn more about a real-life hero and role model, check out the FAME biographical comic book based on the life of Suzanne Collins, written by Sara Gundell, art by Mimei Sakamoto and published by Bluewater Productions.

The first striking thing about this graphic novel is the gorgeous cover art by Joe Phillips, which alone will make any savvy comic book readers gravitate towards it. Cover art can be deceptive. You can have the most gloriously rendered image on the outside, but inside a pencil sketched mess lurks, doing its best to assault your poor, unsuspecting eyes.

Breathe a sigh of relief because the illustrations on the inside are equally easy on the eyes, while not of the exact same quality as the cover. The artistic style is an Americanized manga, where subjects possess softened features, jeweled eyes and clothes in muted tones. The letters are scripted in a font comic book fans and non-fans alike will appreciate (unlike the Twilight graphic novel from a few years back). The only critique I would apply to the artwork is added depth through shading and coloring, which while rich on same pages, is noticeably lacking in others. A rushed quality exists on those panels, though the story more than makes up for it.

In some ways, the muted colors and cartoony sketches help provide a soothing visual background and involve the reader more in the story, rather than distracting and drawing attention away from this summary of Collins’ life.

The tale of Suzanne Collins’ rise to fame shows that hard work and resolve will eventually pay off. Hunger Games enthusiasts with internet access and Google search savvy may have already scoped out some details on Collins life to determine how she came up with the addictive concept and characters behind her popular trilogy.

For the still intrigued, this comic book neatly highlights key moments in her life, including her stint in children’s television. It’s hard to imagine a woman who scripted for a show called “Clifford’s Puppy Days” would go on to write a violent series exploring themes of rebellion, popular entertainment, and war, capturing the attention of millions. But she did, and FAME shows us how this was achieved.

The writing is not too obsessive about personal details or hardships Collins endures, choosing to veer sharply away from tabloid style antics. The focus of the content is relevant to the body of work she’s created, which is respectful and appropriate. Fans will also note that it avoids a tone of gossip or even speculation about her motivations and desires, relying instead on facts to illustrate her achievements.

Following the thread of Collins’ life puts the success of The Hunger Games into perspective. Suzanne Collins isn’t an amazing writer who came from nowhere to achieve fame. She is an amazing writer who toiled in the industry and used intelligence, imagination, and innovation to gain her success and popularity. She is a fantastic role model for young female writers, and this would make excellent supplementary reading for young women interested in this career path.

The book features several panels displaying the beauty and poise of Collins as she progresses from her childhood relationship with her father to walking the red carpet of Hollywood. Arguably one of the best images depicts Katniss Everdeen in full-on games regalia, standing in the forested arena from the first book. Getting a small taste of what visual elements could be depicted on page from this trilogy makes a strong case for a Hunger Games graphic novel.

Can someone get on this please? I’m not usually a strong advocate for multi-tiered adaptations, but after seeing some of the stunning fan art in rotation out there, there is no doubt it could be done and done well.

The FAME book is absolutely worth scooping up to learn more about a writer who will no doubt find further success based on her past performance. It’s easy to imagine young women using this comic book as motivation to pursue a dream career, which is especially needed in entertainment industries rife with male dominance and slim on female voices and perspectives. We need more heroes like Suzanne Collins and Katniss Everdeen in comic books, on the printed page, gracing the big screen and beyond.

You can pre-order FAME: Suzanne Collins at Amazon. Make sure you reserve your copy now!

Mindy Crouchley is a self-proclaimed comic book geek, knitting nerd, movie fanatic, TV junkie, YA literature enthusiast, avid gamer, and Internet troll. You can find her on the web at TinyHeroes.net and on Twitter at @TinyHeroes.


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