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PHOTO BOOTH by Lewis Helfand


by Lewis Helfand & illustrated by Sachin Nagar

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: June 21st, 2011
ISBN: 978-93-80028-65-1
Publisher: Campfire

An intriguing—though fussily intricate—premise is hampered by an unfortunately disjointed execution.

Against a grim, sketchy black-and-white backdrop enters the brooding, chiseled Praveer Rajani. Rajani, an Interpol agent, has just made a huge drug bust at a carnival. While leaving the scene, he sees a photo booth that jars memories of his childhood 20 years ago and his parents’ untimely demise. Abruptly, the entire setting changes, jumping back two decades and exploding in bright, jarring colors within structured panels. Nagar quickly abandons the dark, bleak setting and changes character perspective from Praveer to his older brother, Jayendra. After their parents’ death, Jayendra steps in as his family’s caretaker, though this ultimately costs him his relationship with Shalini, the love of his life. At a carnival, the Rajanis discover a mystical photo booth that can show the heart’s true desires. Impulsively, Jayendra uproots the family, taking them abroad to win back Shalini and discovering a startling coincidence about their parents. Just as suddenly, the setting changes back to the future and Praveer’s point of view, neatly tying the elements of his family’s past to the recent drug bust. Overall, this lacks cohesion and feels choppy, moving discordantly between the darkly noir and sweetly magical settings.

Ambitiously constructed but ultimately falling short. (Graphic fiction. 14 & up)