Marvin, a graphic novel adapted and illustrated by Ian David Marsden based on The Way I Was by Marvin Hamlisch, tells the story of Hamlisch, a famous film composer, through a Jewish lens. A large portion of the graphic novel follows Marvin’s parents in flashbacks as they escape Nazi Germany to come to America, where Marvin himself is born. Exploring his parents’ story allows for a greater understanding of his Jewish heritage and what his parents had to do to survive Nazi Germany.
The book shines when it showcases Marvin’s successes. Once he starts to make it as a composer, he narrates the stories behind some of his biggest triumphs, such as his breakout score for “The Swimmer,” and his Golden Globe Winning song for “Kotch.” The graphic novel illustrates his writing process, often utilizing some of the skills he learned from his education at Julliard, detailed at the beginning of the book. Marsden includes celebrity cameos and behind the scenes looks at Hollywood which add sparkle and recognition to the story.
Marsden’s art style invites in all graphic novel readers. The cartoonish yet vivid faces of the characters are warm and friendly, and make Marvin’s story feel familiar and accessible. Marvin is a fun read for any film fan who wants to learn about musical scores, ironically one of the medium’s most unsung aspects.
Richard C. Kraus is a student at Sarah Lawrence College where he studies writing, film and theatre and serves on the board of his college’s Hillel. A fan of television, film, comic books and pop-culture, he writes for www.whatculture.com.