I always like showing people my copy of Alex Robinson’s Box Office Poison, especially to those who aren’t comic book readers, because the size of the book always gets a reaction. At 608 pages, the book is formidable, which I suppose either works for or against the book. On one hand, it might put someone off from reading it, and on the other hand, the weight of it gives one the impression that there’s something particularly epic about Box Office Poison. While the book is too down-to-Earth to be epic (in the way we imagine epics to be), it is certainly a classic that deserves to be read and re-read. In fact, this is one of those books that really rewards its readers with repeat readings, especially in the details Robinson puts in the background. Having read it three times now, I’m certain there are still some surprises in the book still waiting to be discovered.
My favorite page comes early on in the story. When I first read this page, I knew right then that I was going to love this book. At this point, Robinson is still carefully establishing his characters, and this particular chapter is focusing on Jane and Stephen. We learn about Jane growing up and how she meets and falls in love with Stephen. We also learn that two weeks before, he had asked her to marry him, and for her own reasons, she had said no. The chapter is narrated by Jane as she attends her sister Gertrude’s wedding and it ends with this beautiful moment:
In less than 56 pages, Robinson not only created an emotional scene with a lot of weight, but created complex characters that you really care about. I’ve read way too many comic books longer than this one with none of these things.
A while back Robinson was selling the original pages from Box Office Poison, and I have to admit regretting not grabbing this page.