Maggy Garrisson – The Least Likely Detective In All London

by Richard Bruton

Sardonic, gainfully employed – and in trouble.

That’s the tag-line for Maggy Garrisson, a rather fabulous new private detective graphic novel from two great comic talents, Lewis Trondheim and Stephane Oiry. It’s sharp, it’s funny, it’s clever, it’s a damn good read.

In this collection of three tales, Trondheim and Oiry weave a story that’s inventive and clever, with a fine line in sardonic humour and sarcastic dialogue from a main character who’s wonderfully flawed and detailed by both writer and artist.

We follow Maggy through a series of cases, although there is one small issue… she’s not the PI. That’s her boss, Anthony Wight, beautifully described as a full-time private eye and part-time alcoholic.

Maggie’s turned up at his door, out of work for the best part of the last two years, and somehow lands a job as the secretary to a firm with no cases, working for a man who spends his days passed-out on his desk. Frankly, she’s about as screwed as everyone else here in Brexit Britain. (Seriously, it’s chaos here. You think you’ve got it bad with Trump? We see that and raise you commercial, political, and social suicide)

Anyway, 5 days after finally landing her new job, Maggie discovers Wight brutally beaten to a pulp and is plunged into a decidedly dark yet slightly strange world.

Strangest of all, she discovers she’s actually got something of a penchant for the whole detective thing, with her brains and attitude taking her into cases, where she finds she’s more than capable of looking at things with a real detective’s eye. Which is handy, as she also has a knack of finding trouble.

On the one hand, Maggy Garrisson is a rain-drenched, atmospheric crime drama across these three inter-connected tales. And on the other, well, it’s nothing of the sort. It’s a sarcastic, sardonic, take the piss and get the case solved procedural with a healthy dose of scepticism for the genre it purports to be detailing.

And I suppose that’s the key to it all, that Trondheim is a clever enough comic storyteller to pull this off, mixing things up well, delivering what could have been a straight crime thriller if he’d wanted to play it that way. But instead there’s a darkness in Maggy’s character, playing with and against all the cliches of the hard-boiled genre, yet throwing in enough humour and quirkiness to undercut the darkness and craft something funny and thrilling in equal measure. The comedy here comes from both the situation and, in particular, the dialogue, after all, who doesn’t love a pissy female PI?

Artistically, it’s just as good, with Oiry’s artwork all tight and detailed, plenty going off on every page, usually accompanied by rain. There’s a prevalence of the 3×4 grid here, meaning pages are dense, but the skill of the art means they’re never cramped. Instead, everything moves along quite wonderfully, Oiry’s flow just keeps everything moving, page after page of great layouts, great art, wonderful storytelling.

All in all, Maggy Garrisson is a real breath of fresh air, with writer and artist doing great things, giving us a sharp, great-looking, funny and complex tale. Excellent stuff.

Maggy Garrisson – written by Lewis Tronheim, art by Stephanie Oiry, published by SelfMadeHero.

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