cover image Tales of the City

Tales of the City

Armistead Maupin, Isabelle Bauthian, and Sandrine Revel, trans. from the French by Lillah Campagna and Fabrice Sapolsky. Ablaze, $19.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-950912-59-9

Bauthian and Revel (Glenn Gould) take on Maupin’s classic story of queer folks and alternate lifestyles in 1970s San Francisco in this lush graphic adaptation. Mary Ann Singleton, freshly transplanted from Cleveland, Ohio, moves into eccentric Anna Madrigal’s boarding house. She lands a job as a secretary for stern Edgar Halcyon, head of the advertising firm where her neighbor, Mona Ramsey, works. Edgar, terminally ill, launches an extramarital affair with Anna while Mary Ann becomes involved with Edgar’s son-in-law. Another neighbor, Michael, dates a closeted gynecologist who chafes at Michael’s more open sexuality. Mona leaves the boarding house after her model ex-girlfriend arrives from New York to rekindle their romance. The comics bring the entangled ensemble to life through their shifting relationships, growing secrets, and painful moments, all the way to the melancholic but hopeful climax. Those unfamiliar with the original may miss some key elements in the condensed version, though Bauthian maintains the novel’s slice-of-life feel. Revel’s art carries the softness of pastels but with clean outlines, and her artistic color choices add appealing layers. Whether an old fan or newcomer to Maupin’s characters, readers will be hooked on the drama, even if they might go back to the original to fill in more details. (Mar.)