A long list of books read in yesterday’s Week in Books post. You’ll have noticed that I’m still on a big old Susan Mallery reading jag, but in the interests of not being repetitive, this week’s BotW features what I fear may become my next graphic novel obsession: Fence.
Fence is the story of Nicholas Cox who is determined to make it in the world of fencing. He’s managed to win a fencing scholarship into a top boarding school and needs to get a spot on the school team to stay. But in his way is enigmatic Seiji Katayama – who beat him at the last big competition and who also happens to be his new roommate. Why is he putting himself through this? Well he’s the illegitimate son of a fencing great and he wants the chance to be a fencing legend like the dad that he never knew. And if it means beating his half-brother – his father’s acknowledged son and protege – on the way, then so be it.
This exists at the convergence of the Venn diagram of some of my top catnip: boarding schools, underdogs, Olympic sports and – dare I hope – enemies to lovers. It ticked so many of my boxes, you would not believe. Or may be you would if you’ve been here a while! Aside from Nicholas and Seiji, the fencers at Kings Row are a really interesting gang of people and – like Boom! box stablemate Lumberjanes – they are a super diverse bunch but that’s not made into a Thing, it’s just how life is. Because of course that is how real life is. I love the art from Johanna the Mad – and the simple but striking colour pallette that’s used. I know very little about fencing – except that it’s in a fair few historical romances and that these days it’s *very* fast-moving when it pops up on TV at the Olympics – but this totally hooked me in and had just enough detail about the ins and outs of the sport to keep you interested without overloading you – which is a skill in itself, especially in a graphic novel.
I saw an issue of this while I was in the US in the autumn, but waited and bought the trade version from my local comic book shop. I’ve now got Volume two on order, but volume three isn’t out until May and I can’t just glom on it now. Hey ho, I can’t have it all my own way. You should be able to get hold of Fence Vol 1 from any good comic retailer – and please do support your local comic store – but if you want a taste, the first issue (one fourth of this trade) is £1.79 on Kindle at time of writing.