For the Love of God, Marie!

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Winner   —First Graphic Novel Competition2014


Armistead Maupin meets Ab Fab in this sparkling, sexy comedy of manners that celebrates the life and loves of Marie and a cast of LBGT characters.

This is Marie. Excuse the hair – she’s had a long night.

Marie is a girl with the gift of understanding, who is often misunderstood. At home and in her Catholic sixth form, she confounds family, friends and teachers with her innocent attempts to make everybody feel loved.

As we follow Marie from the 1960s to the 1990s, we find out what it means to be a spirited young woman from a religious household who believes that maybe, just maybe, God doesn’t care what you do with your body as long as it makes you happy. Because really, what harm can come from loving people?

With exuberant art and trademark lightness of touch, Sarson shows us how attitudes to love, sexuality and religion have changed over the last fifty years.

A beautiful Japanese-influenced graphic novel, this is the debut by the winner of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2014.

For Books Sake

14 October 2016
A vibrant, Japanese-influenced graphic novel with a charming cast of LGBT characters For the Love of God, Marie! came into being when Jade Sarson won the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2014 with a shorter piece. This is her debut graphic novel, focusing on the story of Marie, a girl from a strict Catholic background who wants only to love whomever she chooses. Her parents and teachers unsurprisingly disapprove of her desires to be open to the world and all it has to offer. Marie’s story unfolds over decades, honing in on changing attitudes to sex, love, gender and religion. Despite being mistreated by her elders, she remains a defiantly positive and accepting character who stands up for herself and those she cares about. The teenage Marie takes issue with being called a slut, questioning the definition of the word and why her promiscuity is considered a bad thing. She is enraged to discover that society deems it more than acceptable for her brother to behave in exactly the same way. She continues to follow her own path, ignoring the naysayers and falling in love with people her parents don’t approve of for reasons of race or gender. The book is divided into sections depicting the great loves of Marie’s life, including a schoolgirl friend and an older man who sparks off a poignant motif with a yellow umbrella. For the Love of God, Marie! is beautifully-drawn in a vibrant Manga-influenced style which brings an added sense of fun to what is at times a comedy of manners as well as a portrait of a rather dramatic life. Sex scenes are depicted in a direct, uncensored manner while retaining the same fun style present throughout. The book itself is a pleasingly tactile object, using quality matte paper with a fascinating use of colour. Yellowed pages become lighter with the passing of time, making for a pleasing gradient when looking at the closed book. The colours within the panels are also painstakingly well-considered. Dull browns depict Marie’s oppressive religious childhood, making way for colourful 1960s purples, garish 70s wallpaper patterns and a bold primary 80s palette. The one constant is Marie’s gloriously yellow hair. A fun, sexy and moving account of changing times and a life lived defiantly outside of society’s demands.
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Publishers Weekly

26 September 2016
As a teen Catholic schoolgirl in the 1960s, Marie takes the commandment to love thy neighbor literally, opening her heart and legs and discovering her own voracious sexuality in the process. She angrily brushes off the haters and slut shamers, falling headfirst into romantic adventures and befriending fellow social outliers such as William, a gay cross-dresser, and Agnes, a girl from an abusive home. But as Marie grows up and the ’60s sour into the ’70s, free love becomes less freeing. The story sometimes edges toward soapy melodrama but saves itself from becoming overserious with cheeky humor, cheerful eroticism, and characters who become more interesting and nuanced over time. And the lush, lively, manga-influenced art is to die for. If this were just a good-looking sex comic, that would be enough. But it delves into deeper issues of faith, family, aging, love, and loyalty with light, sure strokes. As this debut graphic novel shows, U.K. cartoonist Sarson is an up-and-coming talent to watch.
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Teddy Jamieson, Herald Scotland

One of the pleasures of Jade Sarson’s debut graphic novel For the Love of God, Marie! is that it takes sexuality seriously. That’s not to say it misses the pleasure, the humour and, yes, the silliness of sex. But Sarson is keen to celebrate it as part of life’s rich tapestry. Even if sometimes it can go wrong. That’s not all that Sarson’s book deals with. You can also find her take on religion, bisexuality, body image, motherhood and a Catholic education. The visual style, meanwhile. is pure eye candy but its lighter-than-air easiness-on-the-eye is deceptive. It’s a reminder that laughter can cut deep.
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Page 45

If understanding and kindness is what you crave, I present you with 225 pages of pure passion initially presented in the most heavenly, cohesive coupling of purples and gold. It’s a generational saga and its breadth is such that it covers fifty years and encompasses so much that in addition to being a thumping drama of ecstatic highs and gut-wrenching lows, of parental culpability and the determination to do better, of success and failure and reconsideration, it is also a prime slab of British social history which I rank right up there with the triumph that is NELSON and even with the exceptional, historical memory-jog that is Raymond Briggs’ biography of his parents, ETHEL & ERNEST. It is also exceptionally inclusive and erotic that will be adored by fans of Jess Fink’s CHESTER 5000 XYV and enjoyed on another level entirely. This is a book so bursting with Jade Sarson’s love that – as I’ve sworn – it will make your hearts soar.
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Woodrow Phoenix

I'm really pleased we have got such a beautifully individual and dreamlike succession of fun and filth to add to the Myriad roster! Jade has done a very individual and entertaining book here, and I enjoyed reading it and didn't find it predictable at all, which is a very rare thing indeed. It’s going to be a knockout!

Paul Duffield

In turns dramatic, sexy, funny and heart wrenching, the story pulled me into Marie's world and didn't let me go until the last page. Much like Marie herself, it grabs your attention and leaves you breathless. The free and energetic reading experience put me in mind of Osamu Tezuka's rollercoaster storytelling style – complete with dramatic double-takes and sudden shifts from lighthearted to tear-jerking and back again, all delivered with beautiful open layouts and a fantastic use of color. This book (again, much like Marie herself) is completely and unapologetically itself from beginning to end, and I loved it!

Karrie Fransman

Full of energy with dynamic characters who jump off the pages... and into bed with each other. Yes, it is rather raunchy. But Sarson's lively graphic storytelling also explores the more complex world of Catholic guilt, gender bending and the triumphant blossoming of a young woman's sexuality in a world hell bent on branding her a slut. Sarson is a great storyteller and definitely one to watch on the UK comic scene.

Ink Magazine

A profoundly important and entertaining text, Jade Sarson's award-winning graphic novel explores love and female sexuality within the patriarchal setting of 1960s England and beyond. Loving thy neighbour as thyself is one of the most virtuous and lawful things you can do, according to various people in the New Testament. Marie’s dad certainly thinks so. A devout Catholic, he is visibly proud of his daughter’s participation in the nativity plays and hymn services that are the storefront of the religion he has passed on to her. However, the rules of organised religion - organised anything, perhaps - have their limits, and her teen years are enough to show Marie that love has conditions. The public perception of a woman exploring and enjoying her sexuality is still a vastly negative one, with all sorts of horrible words attached to it that don’t touch men at all. Possessing a unique ability to connect with and understand people who might ordinarily be ostracised for their circumstances - be it health, self-expression, race, appearance or sexuality - Marie recognises her body as a vessel for love. Each chapter of For the Love of God, Marie! is devoted to the loves of Marie’s life, and the impact her sexual connection with them has had on them and those in the near vicinity. Its themes are seemingly endless, presenting a discussion of female sexuality, pansexuality, tolerance, identity, familial and romantic relationships, and the hypocrisy of institutions that profess love of everyone - as long as they are like us. Winner of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition, the book is highly progressive, even now. Commenting on the social tolerance of Britain between the 60s and 90s, it creates space for a lot of conversations that are so far from realised that we barely notice that we’re not having them. Forward thinking, too, is Sarson’s mode of storytelling and the artwork that takes us through Marie’s life. Colour is integral to the narrative, with tea-stained pages and a fantastical palette of pinks and golds that darkens with each chapter as Marie gains more experience of the world. No two pages of the book are the same, the story dictating the flow of panels, the presence of gutters and the angle of a subject. The only constant is Marie’s hair, which is as wild as she is. This is symbolic in itself because, although in biological terms curly hair is the norm and straight the mutation, studies show that female hairstyles have been socially conditioned into an imperative of neatness. Sarson is a young creator but her ability is clearly innate. While For the Love of God Marie! isn’t perfect - her relationship with Agnes isn’t entirely convincing, seeming to stem from a union against double standards rather than any actual shared interests - it is an incredible achievement of intelligent social storytelling that demands to be read in one sitting.
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