Review by Ian Keogh
It’s a rare graphic novel that begins with an explicit introduction from a swinging couple about their lifestyle, but it’s a fair indication of where things are leading, although not as quickly as might be assumed. We first have to head through Cathy and Dan’s relationship history.
Cathy heads off to college as her first real escape from a domineering mother, meets Dan and becomes pregnant. Marriage follows before another child, by which time the passion is evaporating, and both partners realise it, perhaps spending more time than they ought to considering what’s gone wrong while at work. The writing team of Jenni Cheung and Matt Hawkins take three quarters of the story content to reach what the opening two sentences of this paragraph reveal, and that’s a glacial pace. That wouldn’t matter if the content was scintillating as we came to know the couple, but it isn’t. The purpose may be to entrench Cathy and Dan as resolutely ordinary to make the eventual point that with their clothes on, people who indulge in the swinger lifestyle are folk you’d meet at the supermarket.
It would work if Linda Sejic didn’t draw them both as super attractive. That’s because no matter how politically correct we may claim to be, when it comes to sex almost everyone wants to see attractive people, and Swing is aimed at people who want to read about sex. On that score it seems as if there’s going to be some disappointments as while Cathy’s bum and breasts are on full display, only a single buttock separates what you see of Dan from what you’d see if you bumped into him at the swimming pool. That changes in the fourth chapter. Let’s just say Dan’s seen to spring into full bloom.
It’s because Cathy and Dan take their first steps into the swinging lifestyle in that fourth chapter, which because it’s not ordinary for most people makes it more interesting than the previous three chapters combined. There are places where it comes across like a primer rather than a story, but it starts to move the general plot forward, which is very welcome.
The notes at the back of the book reveal that Hawkins originally intended to speed up the pace, but Sejic felt it more important that we come to care for the people before reaching the crisis point in their relationship. One reviewer isn’t the entire audience, and that Swing has hit a fourth volume indicates Sejic has a point and readers weren’t put off by the slow pace, although all characters other than the leading couple are one-dimensional. There’s certainly nothing wrong with Sejic’s art, with everything clear and beautifully drawn. It’s a shame she bows out during Volume Two.
Also included at the back are extended previews for two other series Hawkins writes, Blood Stain and Sugar. You can choose to view them as intriguing bonus material or taking up space that could be given over to another chapter featuring the lead characters.