Writer: M.L. Miller
Artist: Carlos Granda
Colourist: Champe Ramirez
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Black Mask
Pirouette is a clown! And it seems she really doesn’t want to be a clown and tries a bit of trapeze. But her dad, ‘The Duke’, is having none of it. Everyone is pretty mean about it, and Pirouette gets physically abused. The crowd find this hilarious. She puts shit into a mean trapeze artist’s tea, which causes a mid-air projectile vomit to hit the audience. Even this doesn’t seem to be played for laughs, and then both her parents give her a beating.
She then gets told by a guy called Brassy that they’re not her parents, that the circus stole her from her real parents, so after running pickpocket duty (which is apparently what clowns do when they’re not on performing?), she joins the clown parade (where the clowns loot and burgle houses because fucking hell these people really hate clowns) so she can slip off and find her real parents.
Except she’s been lied to by Brassy, who is some kind of arsehole.
It’s heavily implied that the innocent family are murdered for their trouble, and then Pirouette has the clown makeup tattooed on her face. Quite reasonably, she attempts to strangle The Duke before her delightful mover steps in. Pirouette does a runner, does a bit of fairly justified manslaughter, gets to do a bit of trapeze at last, and we reach what feels like an intentionally ambiguous ending.
And here I was hoping for a fun book about a cute clown girl.
Circuses have always seemed shady to me, and while I don’t have a fear of clowns, it feels like popular culture has consigned them to the ‘creepy as’ pile. It seems the creators of this book agree.
Pirouette is a great character, but this story is unrelenting in its misery, barring Pirouette’s hope against hope. I feel like I need to watch cute animal videos to take the edge off. It’s not a bad read, and the art is excellent throughout, but you’ll not be going to the circus again.