IDW Publishing 2019
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Illustrated by Marley Zarcone
Coloured by Irma Kniivila
Lettered by Jane Heir
Where were you in ’81? When the White House goes dark for 17 days in August, the president’s spoiled daughter and her best friend Abe—who claims to be possessed by the spirit of Abe Lincoln—throw a rager at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, unearthing long dead historical figures and government secrets that are better off buried. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll séances, and secret passageways lead to time-bending mystical romps where past and present collide. But at what cost to Marilyn Kelleher, the world at large, and music television?
Well the way this opens up is fairly interesting. Seeing the fashion sense from the 80’s is extremely cringe worthy after having lived through it lol. Yet there is also something very Patrick Nagel about the whole thing that captures the readers’ attention, imagination and has this strange effect of making the reader want to see more. With the narration we see from Marilyn and the party in full rage effect as the introduction there are so many questions we have.
While the 80’s weren’t really known for a lot of gender questioning or pushing a lot of envelopes well Boy George aside, what we see within these pages tries to cram so many different things that were happening throughout the country. While some of the more interesting aspects of this like Marilyn’s friend being possessed by Abraham Lincoln or finding these secret passageways are downplayed in favour of style over substance. I am also wondering if this could have benefited from a different structuring. I would have like to see Marilyn dying her hair and getting ready while telling the story of how everything falls into place and have the part be the ending. This is Magdalene’s story though and who am I to second guess, this is just my reaction to what I am seeing. Then again what she is doing has my mind working and thoroughly engaged so she pulled me in rather effectively. Now I am looking forward to seeing how all the pieces fit into this puzzle.
The interiors as I have mentioned earlier have this whole range of emotional connections available to the reader. I love the surprisingly simple style of art that we see here, and I say that because it is so much more difficult to make it look simple and yet fleshes out the scenes, the people and their world so effectively. Also there are some wonderful references throughout the book that made me giggle and remember my own youth. That hand held camera that looks as big as anything a television guy would have for instance yeah. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a really solid and talented eye for storytelling. The colour work too with it’s blocking and creative use of solids and tones really helps the moments stand out.
Magdalene does something amazing with her writing. As you first lance through it, it doesn’t make sense to see how it’s done and the more you think about it and the more you see it the more you find yourself appreciating how she goes about her craft. The story & plot development with the pacing and the character development show that she understands how to craft a story that will leave an impression on the reader. As much as we see here there is still so much left unanswered and it’s the desire to see those questions or moments that aren’t shown, revealed to us that makes us want to come back time and time again.
Secret tunnels, private sex rooms and something supernatural about the White House, it’s location and the power it possesses has never been explored as it is right now. This completely different and original take on the spoiled first brat has this wickedly delightful dark humour to it and shows us another range in what Magdalene is capable of doing.