MARVIN Book Review: Biographical Graphic Novel

It is rare to see a graphic novel that, instead of the fantastical lives of supernatural characters, depicts the fantastical life of a person who really was. Born to immigrant parents, Marvin Hamlisch is the youngest student to ever walk the halls of the great Julliard School. But before you find out how the golden age of Broadway claims Marvin as one of its brightest stars, the book offers some serious history lessons, including the parents’ gripping run from the Nazi invasion.

MARVIN offers a first person narrative that relates to all ages.

It is important to note that the book focuses on the early stages of Marvin’s life and the defining moments of his adolescence. The most riveting relationship that resonates with both readers here, one aged 40+ and one aged 9, is Marvin’s connection with his father. The two incidents particularly grabbing these writers’ attention include the euphoria felt by Marvin and his father talking on the roof before a Julliard test, and the despair when that same father slaps him punitively across the face over a dispute at school. If you are reading this book with a child, these complex relationships offer a rich serving of meaningful conversation and conflict resolution bullet points. And for those reading this book solo, no matter your age, you might be surprised at how easy it is to relate to Marvin’s character. It appeals to both your inner child, as you see Marvin’s struggle to remain a normal genius, and the adult in you that marvels at how this composer ended up being one of two people to ever receive a PEGOT (Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Awards).

Without integrity, there is nothing.

It isn’t only that Marvin’s story offers a roller coaster of life events. It also speaks of a different time when social interaction is based on being a stand-up person, where integrity speaks for itself. It is hard to imagine it was the norm not so long ago, especially when this book and its story are pitted against what passes for the norm now. But adapted from the self-authored The Way I Was, Ian David Marsden captures the tone and look of Marvin Hamlisch, in both his penmanship and illustrations. No doubt that, there was real love for Marsden’s subject matter. And without upholding Hamlisch’s integrity in this adaptation, there is also no doubt this book would hold its weight.

Author Ian David Marsden


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For more information and to purchase this book, visit the Schiffer Books webpage for MARVIN.

Photos Courtesy of MARVIN Book


Tonika Todorova and her son Jaxon DuFloth
Co-Authors: Tonika Todorova and her son Jaxon

About the Authors: Tonika Todorova and her son Jaxon DuFloth:

Tonika Todorova is a freelance writer and director that goes by the self imposed title of Adventure Architect. She experiences a lot of performance with her eight year old son, Jaxon, by her side, and his reflections on Chicago theatre offer a refreshingly new perspective for her, and hopefully, others. Jaxon practices autonomous learning and is proud to be an Albany Park Chicago Children's Choir singer. Tonika and Jaxon also enjoy reviewing children's books together. You can learn more about them and their experience writing for Picture This Post by watching this Picture This Post YouTube video:

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