Water Baby : Ross Campbell (or, how good the Minx line could have been)

The more I discover of the range of titles published by Minx, the sadly now departed “teen girls” line from DC, the more I think how awesome it could have been. If only, if only ….

Water Baby by Ross Campbell (writer / artist) is the latest title that I’ve finally managed to get hold of. It tells the story of Brody and her life after a shark attack.

The art is what makes this book sing. The visual phrasing in the scenes with the shark are incredible. I love graphic novels but it’s very rare I get a visceral sense of fluidity in them. I’m used to seeing a snapshot of a moment, a still in a frame, but here it’s different. The shark circles swimmers in one frame. The gutter between the frames gives you a moment to pause, to breathe, to prepare yourself for the inevitable. You know she’s going to get hurt. You know because she’s got a missing leg on the front cover. You know the moment that she enters the water, her body whole and strong, you just know that this moment can’t last because she has to lose her leg. It’s an incredibly (and somewhat appropriately) visceral reading experience.

It’s not a perfect book though. There are sections which could have done with some strong editing and a little bit of a firm talking to. Some elements of the plot seem rushed and don’t fit together. The balance is a little off in these areas as well.

But whenever it goes back to the shark, the dark shadowy presence at the spine of the book, the shape that haunts Brody throughout, this book is outstanding. Genuinely so.

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