A memoir about a man in the background who gets foreground focus on a quintessential quiz show.
Jeopardy champion Rostan (An Elegy for Amelia Johnson, 2011) has a beautiful mind. Calling it a sponge would be akin to calling the great white shark a minnow. In his graphic novel memoir, he rejoins forces with illustrator Kasenow to relate his journey from outcast intellect to contestant in the human experience. Because a brilliant mind doesn’t necessarily equal a brilliant life, he must forge a way to engage with other players that balances self-respect with meaningful human participation. Kasenow’s dynamic layout avoids ho-hum standardized paneling with full-page illustrations, equally stacked panels, zigzag mosaics, and borderless silos to show-not-tell dramatic cre- and decrescendos. Mainly in gray scale, the illustrations of Rostan (and a fair portion of settings) are in muted cyan (think an extract of Jeopardy-screen blue). Color is also used to show context for three female love interests, executed in violet, crimson, and sepia, as Rostan navigates the complexity of romantic relationships. Sporadic visits from other brilliant minds (Einstein, Jerry Garcia) are entertaining blips but intermittent enough that they befuddle an already tricky nonlinear sequence. Double-entendre Jeopardy factoids are interesting nuggets used to caption scenes in Rostan’s real life but are so esoterically specific that the parallels get murky. Though the palette is mostly blue, characters are presumably white.
The key takeaway is one terrific bit of trivia: You have to be interested in everything. (Graphic memoir. 13-adult)