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Box Office Poison (Box Office Poison #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  3,046 ratings  ·  167 reviews
This epic story of Sherman, Dorothy, Ed, Stephen, Jane, and Mr. Flavor is not to be missed. Alex Robinson's completely natural and inspiring knack for dialogue has made his story of dreary jobs, comic books, love, sex, messy apartments, girlfriends (and the lack thereof), undisclosed pasts, and crusty old professionals one of the most delightful and whimsical graphic novel ...more
Paperback, New Edition, 602 pages
Published July 2nd 2001 by Top Shelf Productions (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

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I don't understand what the fuck people like about this book. Here's what I got from the first 150 pages (of 600), before I gave up: people who go to book stores are idiots; smugness is a virtue, as is feeling superior to everyone else all the time; misogyny is no reason not to publish a book; who cares if you spell a word wrong every few pages; Pete Bagge's art has been extremely influential; and transsexuals aren't real people, they're punchlines. Good work, Alex Robinson. Fuck all of these th ...more
Sam Quixote
I love comics and thought this'd be fantastic but man is it anything but. Two friends out of uni hit the city, get crappy jobs, one of them works in a bookshop and wants to be a writer. He makes fun of customers in the bookshop behind their backs for not knowing anything about books. Fair enough, I've met librarians who thought Charles Dickens was a novel by David Copperfield. But come on, easy target! Hardly engaging. Then we have the foreign landlady who shouts a lot of pidgen english, the cra ...more
I grabbed this book when I saw it in the library the other day because Imogen was so vitriolic about it, and I expected it to be deliciously awful.

Instead, it was just mediocre. The art was pretty okay, and I liked a few of the characters. But the overall plot was boring and had no real point or resolution, the main dude (Sherman) was a jackass and his girlfriend was unlikable, and there were goddamned spelling errors. Like, homophone confusion. Like, "your" when he meant "you're." And he thinks
The dreaded 3 star rating. I always hate giving a three star because it always looks like a book was just average. Sometimes it is the case, but what about when you really enjoy a book, it’s just not necessarily earth shattering or important enough to make the 4 star or 5 star rating? So for purposes of distinction this one merits a 3.5 star rating from me.

This was like watching a marathon of Friends or any such twenty-something/relationship sitcom. I was sad when it came to an end because at th
This is a prime instance of the elusive comic you needn't be ashamed of reading. It's a graphic novel in the truest sense of the word; it's just regular novel with pictures instead of prose. It contains no men of steel or supervillains hellbent on blowing up Metropolis. Instead, it consists of well-conceived and -developed characters, emotional resonance, and true-to-life plot.

It's also an incredibly ambitious project. He's juggling a lot of characters and several storylines. It's the kind of b
Remember the last time you were falling out of love that too with a person who you really thought was "your person?" Remember feeling attracted to random people just because you were so unhappy in your own relationship ? Remember doubting yourself ? Remember wondering if this other attraction was the real thing or it was just another distraction courtesy your "sinful" hormones ?

Remember trying to break up but failing all the time ?

Remember sitting alone and telling yourself you are a jackass -
I would have enjoyed this book a lot more in the early '90s, back when college-age twentysomethings seemed like attractive, carefree jokesters as opposed to entitled, good-for-nothing space-wasters. As such types go, however, they're well-developed, occasionally amusing, and compelling enough to propel one through all googolplex pages of this graphic monster.

Peripheral stories often leave more of a lasting impression than the main narratives, such as a brief but rather wonderful vingette in whi
jel zbog strip tematike ili zbog tih svakodnevnih muško ženskih odnosa te raznoraznih referenci na kultne filmove i knjige ofucani holivudski film me podsjeća na Chasing Amy Kevina Smitha,a Chasing Amy mi je jedan od dražih filmova. preporuka za više popodnevnih uživanja uz kavu na balkoniću dok se na playeru vrte the beatles i the police. 600 stranica zabavnog crteža s masu dragih likova i nekoliko iritantnih. Obavezna lektira za fanove dobrog stripa
Alan Chen
If I read this in my twenties I think I would have thought it was phenomenal. The book deals with a bunch of early 20 somethings dealing with dead end jobs, problematical budding romances, virginity/limited sex life, economic issues, sharing apartments all the while doing very little about it and drinking to excess. We got Spencer who wants to be a writer but has worked at the same book store for over 5 years and already has his degree but no motivation to leave the job. His girlfriend is self-c ...more
Reminds me a lot of many other pseudo autobiographical graphics that I can't even name at the moment. Great illustration, but a sort of mundane and soap opera storyline. Engaging enough, but after a while I found myself thinking "I'm only reading this to finish it -- I kind of don't care what happens". I need a way to describe that feeling... you know, the one you get when you're half way into a TV series and you just keep watching it because you're comfortable but not still interested. The bana ...more
Bob Dobbs
Box Office Poison is one of the worst comic books I've ever skimmed. Its art is extremely simple and ugly, for starters. It looks like something a child would draw. All I got from it was that it was about this loser getting into a dysfunctional relationship with an alcoholic, all the while living in a shitty apartment in shitty New York City and holding down a soul-crushingly tedious job to support this lifestyle. Just page after page of crudely drawn characters in an ugly world of unhappiness, ...more
I think it perfectly captures a group of imperfect, flawed but relatable people, growing up and making choices that define us in our twenties to thirties. The characters reminded me of real people i knew, myself included. It depicted them unflinchingly, with compassion but also with clarity about people's limitations. The graphic novel definitely improved (especially the art) as it went along and the pacing feels odd but I felt this was something you just have to delve into. It had a Dickensian ...more
My parents had Alex Robinson's art all around their house when I was a kid in the 90s, because they kinda look like Stephen and Dorothy. They commissioned a version of "American Gothic" from him with those two characters (apparently he was like "but those characters aren't TOGETHER" and my parents are shippers?? who knew), and, like, a magazine cover of Dorothy, as well as a BIG picture of all the female characters (including the scary landlady?) playing poker with erotic cards.

Also, the writer
Shayna Ross
This is one of the more impressive graphic novels I have read in a long time. It's unfortunate that many people can't view a comic for its story, rather than "how good the characters looks," since the aspects of the story really draws you in. The particular book will generally only appeal to a certain age group since it's a story that you just "get it" by your own experience.

That being said, this is about a bunch of 20-something's living in New York City in the late 90s or early 00s. Long story
I just don't get it. Drawing is lackluster and the story is boring. I wasn't expecting superheroes or anything but zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Been 4 years, decided to give this a re-read. Still fantastic, and leaves me quite inspired to tell a story like this myself.
Walter Mitchell
My favorite graphic novel. The flow is so natural and the character development so convincing -- not to mention that the length of the story is so generous -- that it's impossible to avoid being deeply and happily impacted. That's pretty admirable for a meandering book about twentysomethings in New York, a subject that bores me to even type out.

An added bonus: the art matures with the characters. By the end, the style is slick and experimental, genuinely delightful. Couple that with a cast of ch
Brad McKenna
Great comic of a group of 20-somethings as they navigate life in NYC. Steven is a history professor his girlfriend, Jane, is a cartoonist. Much like Ed, who is Sherman's best friend. Sherman works in a bookstore and if you've ever worked in a bookstore there are a plethora of in-jokes that you'll appreciate. There's also Dorothy, the person Sherman replaced as Stephen and Jane's roommate. Jane hates her and Dorothy is a bit of a wildcard who you go through the story thinking will prove Sherman's ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
George Marshall
I found it gripping and totally involving, dragging me fully into identifying with the characters. I found myself moved and excited. The art is actually remarkably clever at suggesting the nuances of body language and expression. I spent a whole weekend in this world and felt deeply sad when it ended and I had to pull myself free. BOP shows that Alex Robinson is one of the very best in this medium and like Ware, Bechdel, Seth, Tomine, Modan, Clowes- maybe just a few others- is able to create cha ...more
Box Office Poison is a monster, and even though it’s a graphic novel, 600 pages is still an enormous story. Alex Robinson’s story is about a group of twenty-something friends and how their lives intersect with each other. Sherman drams of being a writer but works in a local bookstore. His best friend Ed wants to crate comics. Jane, Stephen, Irving Flavor, and Sherman’s girlfriend round out the cast. Each of the characters has a full story and is fun to follow through the book.

There isn’t anythin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oscar Salas
Publicado en 2001, Box Office Poison, curiosamente traducido como Malas Ventas (arriesgado pero sincrónico) parece, en principio, haber envejecido en su novedad. Contar la historia de un reparto de jóvenes irrumpiendo en la adultez tiene mucho de Alta Fidelidad y otro tanto de slice of life, hoy en día tan en boga. Situado en contexto, debe haber sido un pionero en su mezcla de género, pero hoy parece superado por el hipsterismo. Sin embargo, lo que aún hace deliciosa esta lectura es el increíbl ...more
This was one of those books that I originally gave four stars, but after thinking about it for a while I had to bump it down to three. I definitely enjoyed it--it's funny, the illustrations are charming and the characters are likeable (and in the case of the character who works at a bookstore, VERY relatable). I just had problems with the pacing. The storylines I enjoyed most got a lot less time than the one I didn't care for. Also, I felt that it started out with a definite main character, Sher ...more
Andy Shuping
One of my favorite things about going into a good used bookstore (you know the ones that actually carry comics and graphic novels) is discovering artists/authors I hadn’t heard of before. And last year when exploring one of my favorite stores I came across the book “Too Cool To Be Forgotten” and was entranced by Alex’s art and story. So I eagerly looked to see what else he had done and soon discovered “Box Office Poison,” one of Alex’s best known works. The story explore themes of friendship, li ...more
One of the things I really love about Box Office Poison is that when you're reading the book, you get a clear picture of a cartoonist coming into his own. I don't know if Alex Robinson ever intented on completely flip-flopping his POV characters halfway through the story, but the bold move pays off, especially on a second read-through.

The story meanders, but in a pleasant way. You enjoy the detours because you like the people you're reading about.

If I had to pick my absolute favorite part of BOP
Fans of Allison Bechdel's The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For might appreciate Robinson's anecdotal slice-of-life vignettes about Sherman, Ed, Beatrice, Dorothy, Stephen and Jane. Kevin Smith fans could also be a potential target audience for these stories of snarky pseudo-adults perpetually stuck in a transitional phase . Robinsons' characters are somehow both intellectually savvy and socially challenged, always having the last word and the quick retort but doomed to struggle at maintaining st ...more
Good! Dips a toe in traditional comic world. If you've never read this genre pick up Blankets by Craig Thompson or Fun Home by Alison Bechdel instead but if you love comics that are semi memoir or realistic stories, this is a solid read. Also it's an interesting perspective because superhero movies have only gotten much more popular and much less devoted to their source material since Mr. Flavor endured his hardship.
The typos and constant misuse of "your" were very annoying but I got dragged in and invested in the characters despite not liking any of them and having a nagging feeling I'd seen each of them before at first.
It was a bit melancholy and launched me into a few days of remembering my own dissatisfying, melancholic 20s - but in a nostalgic way haha.
I knew people just like this.
Overall, I guess I did enjoy it.
I can't dispute criticisms of this book's unoriginality, but i was not at all put off by the characters (even when they were shallow cliches or stereotypes) and i didn't mind that the various plot lines didn't amaze me. I'm gonna guess that Robinson's style in general grew out of imitation of Dave Sim. I had fun straining to read book titles in the background of so many panels. I was tickled when i recognized a background character as being in the style of or "stolen" from other cartoonists and/ ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Alex Robinson...

Other Books in the Series

Box Office Poison (6 books)
  • Bop!: More Box Office Poison
  • Malas Ventas 1 - ¡Ríndete Dorothy!
  • Malas Ventas 3 - La casa de Tweed
  • Malas Ventas 2 - El regreso de Irving Flavor
  • Malas ventas 4 - La despedida de Jane y Stephen
Fracasso de Público: Adeus Top 10 Rio de Janeiro [With Map] London & Southeast with Kids Brazil Handbook, 7th Brazilian Pantanal

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“Most friendships, if the end at all, end not by earthquake, but by erosion. Your time together, which you used to take for granted, becomes something you need to schedule.
Slowly you're aware that the easy intimacy you shared got lost somewhere. You talk more and more about the past.”
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