Review by Matthew Nielsen
For the Love of God, Marie! by Jade Sarson is the story of the life of Marie, a person full of love and unafraid to express it in her own way. However, the problems arise when her way of loving goes against the cultural standards of the time, thus leading to various struggles and conflicts.
The graphic novel starts in England in the 1960s. We are introduced to Marie and her rather Christian family. Marie attends a Catholic school where she meets various people who, compared to the school’s desired way of behaving and culture, are misfits. Marie connects with them, wanting to heal their pain the best way she knows how, through emotional and physical love. Throughout the story Sarson draws multiple detailed intimate scenes, unafraid to show what takes place in the characters’ private lives. Marie’s behaviour causes a great deal of discontent with her family as they gradually learn more and more about her lusty activities. The story takes place over the course of numerous decades, including the 70s and 80s, and onwards. We see many moments in Marie’s life, as well as the long relationship with her friend William (described on the back of the book as a ‘gay crossdresser’). There are many moments of joy, sadness, passion and anger throughout the comic.
With this graphic novel it is Sarson’s artwork which deserves the most praise. Her ability to capture animated, lively characters with strong individual expression and faces, as well as her keen use of colour and shading, is marvelous. The various chapters have different colour schemes with limited palettes, giving each its own feel and mood. There is also a good use of costume and theme, which fit each era of both Marie’s life and the decade she is in.
However, what could have been done better in the story are some elements of the writing. A lot of the book focuses on various issues and challenges within the LGBTQ community through the ages, and the theme of intolerance against free love is prominent throughout. But I feel two things are not done quite accurately. Firstly, the level of intolerance featured in the book, especially for periods like the 1960s/70s UK, does not seem high enough. In fact a lot of people in the book seem surprisingly lenient and understanding for the period. Secondly, I feel there are many events that could have been expanded on. Certain moments in one’s life really require a great pause in the mainstream. A big event that rustles you, that changes you, should not be explained in the same number of panels as an everyday mundane event. The sheer emotional impact of key moments must be emphasized in order to promote empathy through correct pacing. If the character must spend a long time on one experience, so must the reader, and that was something that For the Love of God was sometimes lacking.
One last thing to note. The back of the book describes For the Love of God as “manga-inspired,” but that comparison sounds like it’s coming from someone who knows very little about manga and comics in general. This graphic novel is not manga-ish much at all but very much a different style.
In the end, For the Love of God, Marie! was a good read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the artwork. The story and characters were interesting, though I feel the book could have benefited from being 50%-100% longer in length. If the adventures of free love take your fancy, then you might want to check out this graphic novel.