BOOK REVIEW: Tales of the City, Vol. 1 by Armistead Maupin (w/ Isabelle Bauthian & Sandrine Revel)

Tales of the City Graphic Novel (Volume One)Tales of the City Graphic Novel by Isabelle Bauthian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars Page

Out: May 3, 2022 [may vary in your area]

Set in San Francisco in the 70’s, this graphic novel based upon a 1978 novel by Maupin adeptly moves between about half a dozen story arcs. All of these stories are connected by key characters being residents of a Barbary Lane rooming house run by a maternal and jovial hippie pot-grower landlady named Anna Madrigal.

In a sense, the lead character is Mary Ann Singleton, a new arrival at 28 Barbary Lane. Singleton isn’t the kind of lead that the entire story revolves around; there’s plenty going on that takes place outside her perspective. However, Singleton does make a great focal point because she’s a fish out of water. Being Midwestern and straight, she’s a run-of-the-mill character in Ohio (her home,) but in SF, she’s the oddball. Her extreme ordinariness among outcasts both generates tension and highlights the unconventionality of the Barbary Lane rooming house.

The story is soap opera-like. It’s loaded with drama and low-level intrigues – extramarital affairs, closeted gays with out of the closet partners, drugs, etc. – but the pacing of these low-level intrigues keeps the flow of the story intense.

I never read the original novels, but I thought the artists did a great job of not only of illustrating the work, but also of organizing the story into a graphic format.

I’d highly recommend interested readers check it out.

View all my reviews

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