GRAPHIC NOVELS

Smoove City

Oni. Sept. 2020. 152p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781620107812.
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Gr 7 Up–Ray, Ronnie, Mikey, and Vinnie, collectively known as Smoove City, dream of becoming the next big thing in the 1990s R&B music scene. Tired of their lack of momentum, leader Ray pushes the rest of the group to record a demo tape to get a meeting with the head of Phat Cat Records, Laverne Lavelle. Their plan fails spectacularly; however, Smoove City does catch the calculating eye of slimy Phat Cat intern Pip. One dubious contract later, the guys find themselves on a path that will test their mettle as a musical group and friends. Keil has crafted an amusing spoof of the Nineties swingbeat/R&B music scene. His world is a racially diverse one—Ray and Ronnie are Black, Mikey is white, and Vinnie is tan-skinned with purple hair. Despite a fairly predictable story line and a lack of depth in character development (villains are particularly one-note), readers who invest in Smoove City’s journey will enjoy the plot shenanigans. The art style is reminiscent of eclectic 1990s cartoons, reveling in overly exaggerated character design and loud color schemes. Certain jokes and visual references may amuse nostalgic elder millennials/Gen Xers but will sail over the heads of younger readers.
VERDICT Hand to graphic novel enthusiasts who enjoy quirky art and pop culture satire. For large collections.

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