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Water Baby

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Brody, a teenage surfer girl, must cope with the aftermath of a shark attack, where she loses a leg and suffers from nightmares about sharks, while driving her ex-boyfriend Jake to New York with her best friend Louisa.

176 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2008

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About the author

Sophie Campbell

210 books196 followers
One of the most exciting and talented creators working in comics today, Sophie Campbell has made her mark on IDW books such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jem and the Holograms.

A graduate of the Savannah College of Art & Design, Campbell began her career writing and drawing independent comics primarily focused on the lives of young women from all walks of life, including Wet Moon, Shadoweyes, and the Abandoned. She further proved her versatility as an artist when she began drawing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for IDW, where her kinetic action sequences and distinctive character art were a hit with fans and critics alike.

Campbell was brought on as the first artist on the IDW continuing series Jem and the Holograms, where she was responsible for the modern redesign of the characters and establishing the unique look of the comic. Her work on Jem with writer Kelly Thompson was so well received that the two were profiled by the New Yorker in 2015.

Campbell continues to work on several projects for IDW, as well as her own creator-owned independent comics.

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5 stars
123 (17%)
4 stars
164 (23%)
3 stars
226 (32%)
2 stars
136 (19%)
1 star
43 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 98 reviews
Profile Image for Marissa.
288 reviews58 followers
April 3, 2015
Hmm. The weird thing about Sophia Campbell is that she's totally white and her main characters always seem to be vaguely asian-looking, black punk rock girls. While I definitely like seeing some strong black female characters in comics, she does draw them in a ludicrously sexualized way. They all have these pouty lips and big breasts and wear next to nothing. Also, while I know the whole Minx brand is intended to cater to teenage girls, the characters rendered here do not strike me as being at all like teenagers. Personally, I haven't met a lot of teenagers who lived on their own, with each other, who party all they want to, never go to school, take off on road trips without telling any adults, and hitchhike by themselves. Call me crazy, but that seems pretty advanced for high school-aged kids, even the punk rock ones. And add in to the mix that these heavily sexualized characters are under age? Blech. While I like the main character and the dream sequences in the book, I can't really get past the weirdness.
Profile Image for jess.
852 reviews75 followers
March 14, 2009
Two stars: one of the art, one for the best intentions. Like some other people, I am working my way through the Minx books now that Minx has folded. This is probably one of my least favorite Minx titles to date. I've read a lot of them. I really wanted to love the story of the badass punk one-legged queer woman of color, but honestly, it's kind of dumb. Someone else pointed out how sexualized the WOC's bodies are - they are supposed to be teen girls, with giant breasts, running around in their underpants. I sound like an old lady, but I'm a really just a critical reader. Let's just say this was obviously written by a white dude & leave it at that.
Profile Image for Diana Welsch.
Author 1 book15 followers
November 8, 2008
Geez, obsessed with large-breasted women much? If this author had put as much loving detail into the story as he did into the drawings of the women's bodies, this would have been much better.
Profile Image for Erika.
191 reviews
September 15, 2010
For a graphic novel meant to appeal to teenage girls, it was pretty obvious that it was written by a dude. Hyper-sexualized illustrations of the female characters who seem to only wear underwear or booty shorts, all the time. The story itself was pointless and even when I tried to suspend my disbelief I didn't buy it. The only thing I enjoyed about this was the cool artwork in the dream sequences.
Profile Image for Nicole.
123 reviews26 followers
June 3, 2008
I loved the art style of this book. The gist of the story was good but too often the characters didn't ring true to me. I wanted to enjoy the story as much as I loved the art, but it just wasn't there for me. Hate to say it, but it read just too much like a guy's fantasy for me.
Profile Image for Nikki.
146 reviews
January 13, 2011
I picked up Water Baby at the library because I liked the cover art, and the story's premise. I also liked that it was targeted to teenage girls, though I'm not one. Unlike some other reviewers, I don't think the problem is the peeing or the "hypersexualized" graphics. Hell, a lot of young people are very sexual (and sexy).

I think the problem is that the book has very little depth. I would think that it would be easy enough to get some depth out of a story about recovering from an amputation, but Ross focuses more on the characters being cool, in a punk rock kind of way, than he does on the recovery. There are some interesting dream sequences, but they don't really lead anywhere.

Also, I didn't really buy that they were all in high school. They had too much autonomy. I could see one kid having this kind of freedom, but not all of them. I think they could definitely be just out of high school, though. Their aimless searching makes a lot more sense, if that's the case.

In the end, I liked the graphic style, and the fuck-you attitude, but wanted more.
Profile Image for Philip.
364 reviews7 followers
June 7, 2012
Very nice art (although sometimes it feels like we are getting too close a look into what turns Campbell on). The writing feels more like an extended anecdote rather than an actual story. It's just a bunch of stuff that happens, but what's the point?
36 reviews2 followers
July 22, 2008
Ross Campbell has established a very distinctive style, not just in how he renders things, but in tone, themes, and those little elements that make a writer's work recognizable. There are hot girls in tiny, punky outfits (often dirty and ragged), but the hot girls have different body types and do unhot things like pick their noses. There are some really creepy visuals. The settings are always kinda rednecky and lowdown. There's a nihilistic vibe. Some of the same bands are referenced that are referenced in Wet Moon, but i don't know if they're real, or he's just using the same made up bands.

Brody is a teenage (?age not given?) surfer in Florida. She has lots of tattoos and skull-themed swimwear. A shark attacks her and takes her left leg. The rest of the book is obliquely about how she recovers from this. Well, not all of it is oblique. Some of it is directly about the physical recovery. It's the psychological stuff that is appropriately oblique. This takes the form of Brody's relationship with a worthless leech of a guy whom i wouldn't mind to have seen shot named Jake. I'm not sure how well that part of it worked. It performed its narrative task, but it didn't feel significant. Getting shed of this bum didn't feel like an emblem of Brody conquering her injury as much as her finally ceasing to be an embarrassing pushover.

The plot is straightforward, but has a loose flow. The second half of the book is a road trip, and that always lends itself to a jangly, episodic, meditative form or story, like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The purpose is to give the characters room to reveal themselves to the reader in a casual, organic way. You know who they are through dialog, mannerisms, and those sorts of character work. There are no info dumps or exposition-disguised-as-dialog. This is how Campbell's series Wet Moon works, too. The best moments in that series are when Cleo obsesses and when Trilby dorks out or gets disproportionately offended by the least significant slights.

Unexpectedly, Water Baby is darker than Wet Moon, even though WM is very gothic (in both the Southern Gothic and Siouxsie Sioux sense), has more drooling rednecks, physical oddities, and decay. But WM does have bright spots like Trilby's manicness and a sense that the characters are moving and having a bit of fun along the way. In Water Baby, there are fewer bright spots. Brody and Louisa are friends, but we don't know how much they really care about each other. Brody is moving forward by the end of the story, but it's slow, and the nature of her moving forward involves getting tougher, harder. She starts off cynical and sarcastic, so getting harder doesn't make her more sympathetic.

Where her vulnerable side comes through, and this is pretty effective the more i think about it, is in the dream sequences where her trauma about the shark attack manifests itself in various bizarre, horrific images. In these scenes, her anxieties play themselves out via dream logic, and in the moments before she falls asleep and after she wakes up, we see the same emotions in her body language.

Campbell's pages look incredible. He marries beauty and grotesquerie not only in the horror elements, but in the mundane (i.e., hot chicks picking their noses). His shapes are amazing. The balance of detail and expressiveness is just right. His interest in the macabre and in unconventional beauty will likely keep him outside the mainstream of direct market comics, but could easily garner him a sizable following outside of it.
Profile Image for Raina.
1,610 reviews128 followers
March 21, 2009
Didn't even finish this title.
I admire the intent of the Minx line (recently defunct). With a major squint of the eyes. Minx books are supposed to be "cool" comic books with teen girl appeal. Most of the authors/illustrators are male, but that also (supposedly) represents the comics industry. For me though, the majority of the line just doesn't strike true.
This is a prime example. The illustration is sexed up to the point of sexist objectification, this assignment an apparent excuse for the author to market his wet dream in the guise of a comic book for teen girls. And yes, maybe the premise is uplifting - a girl healing (primarily emotionally) from a shark attack that took off one of her legs. And the setting is kinda cool/gritty/maybe realistic? But the combo fell flat, or below flat to arg for me. I think I stopped during one of the shark attack dream sequences. So maybe it would have redeemed itself...
Profile Image for Steph.
576 reviews299 followers
May 2, 2017
This book bugged me. The art style is very uncomfortable; women always very sexualized, scantily clad with bulging boobs everywhere; and everyone looks like they need a shower. The combination was really gross, and made me eager to put the book down (and take a shower).

But I really enjoyed Brody's surreal shark dreams. Those sequences reminded me of Everything Is Teeth, which is a much more enjoyable shark-themed graphic novel.

And the disability representation is pretty cool. But that's not enough. Even if the story and characters were amazing, the art is way too icky for me!
Profile Image for Andrea LeClair.
69 reviews8 followers
February 28, 2009
I hated this, though I didn't stop reading until a few pages from the end, because I liked the art and kept hoping I would like the story. I thought there were too many half-dressed women (and not even superhero-dressed, just....underwear) and some uncomfortable lesbianism-on-display. Also, I feel like you can get away with one peeing scene in a graphic novel, but certainly not more than one.
Profile Image for Kristin.
22 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2013
problematic as fuck.

parts of it were awesome but then it's like sure enough, the straight white dude's fantasy of brown queer women comes right through to affirm his fantasies. ok if you can totally block that out.

ugh. not impressed, ross campbell, wth!
Profile Image for Wren.
43 reviews
June 12, 2023
3 1/2 stars. Sophie Campbell is so good at makinh 2000s goth/metal head characters.
Profile Image for Robert Beveridge.
2,402 reviews161 followers
January 15, 2010
Ross Campbell, Water Baby (Minx, 2008)

Campbell (The Abandoned) temporarily shelves his goth-rock staple Wet Moon and digs into a quick study of post-traumatic stress disorder, dysfunctional relationships, and larceny on the road in Water Baby. Facile? Absolutely, but that doesn't make it any elss worth reading.

Brody is a Florida surfer. Or she was, until she became the first victim in a string of shark attacks along the coast, leaving her with an artificial leg, a bitter outlook on life, and nightmares about sharks that sometimes bleed over into her waking hours. She doesn't like how overly dependent she is on ex-girlfriend Louisa, and the picture becomes even muddier when ex-boyfriend Jake, recently living in New York, shows up. Louisa's already living there, and Jake ends up crashing on the couch for an unspecified amount of time (weeks, at least). Eventually, Brody snaps, steals her mother's car (“well, you only need one leg to drive, anyway”), and forces Jake into it, vowing to take him home to Rochester. This turns out to be slightly more trouble than it's worth, especially when they pick up a hitchhiker who got ditched in Florida by her boyfriend with nothing but the clothes on her back.

Many other reviewers have called the book flat and/or plotless. I don't think either of these things is true, though to be fair the plot does get started well into the book (we're over halfway through by the time we actually get to a plot) and Campbell's characters, while entirely different from anyone else's, are starting to seem kind of stock if you happen to read a lot of Ross Campbell. (There is sometimes a fine line between fetish and laziness, and I admit I did find myself questioning more than once which side of that line Campbell was on where Brody was concerned.) The other possibility I spent some time entertaining both while I was reading the book and afterwards is that Campbell was going for a kind of mashup of the literary novel (also often described as plotless) and noir. Which is entirely possible, though if that was the intention it didn't quite work as well as it should have (Chrissie, the hitchhiker, is far too bubbly for noir, and no one in the novel is quite existential enough for litfic. Okay, I'm being facile myself now, but you know what I mean.) In any case, while I can't see it as a complete success, it's certainly an interesting enough experiment. ***
Profile Image for Regina.
399 reviews62 followers
February 27, 2011
I finished this in an hour.

It is in graphic format, which is why my first comment will be:
Ross Campbell’s drawings in this book made me want to go surfing, joy-riding across the country and take a bath.
No, seriously, the story of Brody was one I couldn’t put down right away. She’s the rebel, tom-boy, outspoken friend that we all have. Unfortunately for this friend, one of her surfing days ends up with her leg becoming shark food.

The story takes place a year after her accident with her best friend Louissa living with her to help out. Everything seems to be going well until her ex-boyfriend Jake shows up unexpectedly and wants to stay with the girls for the summer. While dealing with getting used to being on an artificial leg, her feelings for Jake and her fears of the water, Brody is trying her best to put her life back together.
Overall, Brody was a really cool character to follow. She was odd, but sweet and even in her most raunchy, booger-eating, moments, you couldn’t help but want to be her friend. I especially liked that she had a good attitude about losing her leg to the shark. She never played a pity game, or felt sorry for herself, but kept it moving. Louissa was a really good friend too,who stuck by her through everything and tried her best to help her get used to her new leg and her fear.

When dealings with Jake finally get to a level that Brody won’t tolerate, the group embarks on a ridiculous road-trip, with Brody at the wheel, to get him out of Miami and back to his parents in New York.

Another cool feature is that when the book is held all the way open, you can see a full size pic of Brody.

Should you choose to pick this one up, be mindful of the fact that Brody does discuss her affections for boys, girls, and older men. She also has an affinity for walking around in her underwear…a lot. LOL So, if your parents monitor what you read, they may not dig this one just yet.
I’m interested to see what else Ross Campbell has to offer.
Great story, Amazing artwork, endearing characters.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Brittany.
1,025 reviews115 followers
February 21, 2017
I really wish there was more to the story, because it was really interesting and the art was beautiful. Alas, however that is all, I feel so much was unresolved, maybe it was intentional. Life doesn't always give you all the answers and sometimes all it gives you is someone just walking away.

When Brody is attacked by a shark and loses a leg, she knows that life must go on. A year later she's living with her best friend and starting to have shark infested nightmares. Then, her ex-boyfriend rolls back into town. He crashes with them for awhile, but when disaster strikes, Brody decides it's time for him to go home. So she takes her mom's car and sets out on a road trip with her ex and her best friend.

Firstly, might I say that this is the most adult of the MINX comics. There is a lot of crudeness and artistic appreciation of the female body. It was great. Brody's character was all over the place moody, she seemed to care little about losing her leg, which is nice, but little things seemed to set her over the edge. She was an intense character and might be a bit much for some readers. I liked how spunky she was and I loved the illustrations of her and Louisa. They were so realistic. Jake was a little flat, but meh he's a guy ;) I also enjoyed the subtle product placement of his other graphic novel Wet Moon (you'll have to read the book to find it yourself). This was an interesting story of a fairly self-absorbed girl. I am not sure what age range these characters are. They act like they are fresh out of high school, but little things made me feel like they were supposed to still be in school. Chrissie seemed altogether far too young to be hanging out with them. This was a tough chick book and if that's your style definitely check this one out.

First Line:
"I always have to pee right in the middle of a wave."

Favorite Line:
"You're jus'...appendagely impaired, that's all."

Read more: http://www.areadingnook.com/#ixzz1boS...
Profile Image for Tim Snell.
70 reviews
September 29, 2009
Genre: Concept/Graphic Novel
Copyright: 2008

Brody isn't your typical high school girl. One day while surfing, Brody has an unfortunate encounter with a shark and loses one of her legs. Now, she must struggle with nightmares, walking on a prosthetic, and dealing with her ex-boyfriend who shows up uninvited.

The story and artwork are great, yet, some parents may think the artwork is too "sexy" for younger readers. Characters are constantly dressed in skimpy attire and although there are no explicit images, the artist leaves little to the imagination.

After reading this, I'm surprised that this graphic novel was in the young adult section. There are numerous references to alcohol, pornography/sexual behavior (including bisexual behavior), and profanity. I could see why teenagers (especially boys) would want to read this, however, I'm not sure what parents would say about some of the content. Judging by the fact that I found this novel not only mixed in with more "family friendly" titles, but it was in a place where younger children could access it.
Profile Image for Steven R. McEvoy.
3,171 reviews105 followers
January 5, 2023
The short-lived MINX graphic novel line was supposed to feature stories about strong women and girls and be quality graphic novels for young women. I plan on keeping most of the series set aside for my daughters for when they are older, but this is one book I will not be keeping. I found very little that is redeeming about this graphic novel. The main character has lost her leg in a shark attack; we don't know if her sour view of life and the way she treats everyone poorly was habitual before or after the attack. She seems to just be a skank, with nothing to teach and there is no growth or change. The story feels incomplete and poorly planned compared to the rest in the MINX line. It does not really go anywhere but downhill. I was truly disappointed in this book, and with it being the last in the series I read, it is a good thing as I may not have read some of the others if I had read this earlier.

Read the review on my blog Book Reviews and More. And with links to reviews of all of the MINX graphic novels.
Profile Image for Emily.
153 reviews3 followers
June 22, 2013
Water Baby is a cute graphic novel about anarchic surfer Brody (whose leg was bitten off by a shark, duh), and her kinda messed-up, kinda rag-tag friends and lovers.

Water Baby has it's moments of imagery genius, particularly in Brody's recurring shark-related nightmare sequences, and Campbell does what he does best of all here; creating a cast of diverse and real characters. Ultimately though, the dialogue lacks polish and lets the book down somewhat.

I'm a huge fan of Ross Campbell's work and would implore any would-be readers to pick up the fantastic Shadoweyes or Wet Moon instead, which are both fantastic and more accomplished. Water Baby was a fun read, but possibly only to be fully appreciated by those who know Campbell at his very best.
Profile Image for Abbey.
502 reviews16 followers
August 13, 2009
i wanted to love you water baby! you had everything i thought i was looking for: strong, female protagonist with queer and mixed race identities... but come on! i am just echoing what everyone else has been saying: this comic is super sexualized in terms of the artistic merit and literary merit! so unbelievable as well... and the ending? so abrupt and so unfinished. i would have preferred an in-depth exploration of brody's experiences with the shark bite (i.e. the dream sequences were amazing!) much to the idea of the road-trip with the dead-beat boyfriend. minx comics, i want to love you! but you make it so difficult!!!!!

Profile Image for David Corleto-Bales.
1,022 reviews61 followers
June 10, 2010
A rather pointless and obviously fetish-driven graphic novel about a surfer girl in Florida, who wears very few clothes, who gets her leg bitten off by a shark and hangs out with another girls who wears very few clothes. They meet up with her former boyfriend, a hopeless leech, who proceeds to eat them out of house and home; pissed off at him, they take him back to New York State and along the way meet another girl who wears very few clothes. No surprise that this graphic novel was written by a guy. Kind of cringe-worthy.
Profile Image for Mel.
27 reviews4 followers
January 27, 2018
Like many others that read this book, I found it to be a bit of a dud. The dream sequences were cool but apart from that there was little that kept me interested. The characters felt mostly flat and not fleshed out, and the girls were drawn so overly sexualised it really threw me out of the story. I thought at least the ending would have some pay off, when they eventually got Jake back home, but it was hugely anticlimactic.

The dream sequences WERE cool though. But not cool enough to save this book.
Profile Image for Robin.
2,106 reviews24 followers
July 18, 2008
This is the most impressive graphic novel that I have read from the Minx imprint. This story about a Florida surfer girl who loses her leg to a shark is just the most interesting tale and the illustrations lend so much to the story when she has nightmares about the shark attack. I have not read anything else by Ross Campbell but I am so pleasantly surprised by this book that I had to read it straight through (and not send it to the person who had already put it on hold! Sorry Brandi!)
13 reviews
June 12, 2019
Sophie Campbell is one of my all time favorite comic artists and writers. The Wet Moon series will always be close to my heart. This book has some Easter egg references to Wet Moon but I wish it was part of it’s own larger story or was placed fully in the Wet Moon storyline. It feels incomplete as it is. I think there was a lot more in the story that was worthy of being further fleshed out. Overall, if you are a huge fan of Campbell it’s worth the read for the art.
Profile Image for Brandi Rae Fong.
1,130 reviews20 followers
August 5, 2008
I have yet to find a Minx graphic novel I haven't liked. While this one wasn't my favorite (that would be either The Plain Janes or Clubbing), it was defintely a unique book worth reading.
Profile Image for Rhica.
408 reviews3 followers
March 17, 2015
Street lit as a graphic novel. It is a weird concoction of drama and mind games due to a missing leg and an ex-boyfriend who just won't leave.
Profile Image for Jess Twibey.
161 reviews20 followers
January 12, 2019
I’m so disappointed, I thought she was gonna turn into like shark girl or something. Failing that I wanted the super cute best friend/lesbian couple trope but nope.
Profile Image for Adrian Bloxham.
1,160 reviews
January 14, 2019
Comics don't need to be superhero yawnfests, they can be simple little stories like this, fantastic
Profile Image for nicole Kitchy.
18 reviews
October 5, 2017
I picked this book up at my local library while waiting for my brother top finish his tutoring. The Art style is nice; it doesn't shy away from the sexual aspect of teenagers (though I thought that they were all in their early twenties until I read more about it online), and has a nice juxtaposition between the girls' being sexy, and yet doing unsexy things. I liked how Brody's bisexuality was shown, and I really loved the dream sequences. However, the dream sequences seemed to lead on to something, a big relevation of some sort, but at the end of the story came flat. I feel like this story was unfinished. How has this ordeal changed Brody? We really don't see. She seems the same as when the story began, except for the small relevation that her ex-bf is an ass. Overall, I think it could've been something good, but the author fell flat with the plot.
Profile Image for Colin Oaten.
318 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2022
Brody is a surfer girl with a carefre attitude until the day she loses a leg to a shark. Following her adjusting to her new situation with her friend Louise and her ex Jake coming into her life again and the road trip they take. A female-centric graphic novel from the creator of Wet Moon.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 98 reviews

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