Tommy Lin: A Motorcycle Fairytale

cover shows dark-haired girl in motorcycle glowers and glasses looking off the very red page as petals fall around her. text says TOMMY LIN: A MOTORCYCLE FAIRYTALE BY MAGGIE C. VICKNAIR
Gretchen, on Tommy Lin by Maggie C. Vicknair

I’m not particularly sure why I’m so fond of Tam Lin, but I am, and I have been since I was pretty damn young. Maybe it’s how I first came to it, retold in The Perilous Gard. Maybe it’s how I later came to the magic and strangeness of the ballad itself. I’ve no idea. But, either way, I’ve read many an adaption, and continue to seek them out. So, when I saw a Kickstarter for Tommy Lin: A Motorcycle Fairytle, by Maggie C. Vicknair, I naturally backed it.

Tommy Lin is very short, which is, in truth, my chief complaint. I would have liked it to be rather longer. It’s also a lot of fun, set in a world of gearheads, cars and wrenches and motorcycles dancing across its sparsely-colored pages. The cars are pretty great: drawn sleek and elegant, reminding me of how beautiful and horrible and powerful they can be. They, and the fierce, deadly motorcycle gang, are a highlight here.

The story, in Vicknair’s retelling, focuses much more on women’s relationships than any version of Tam Lin I’ve read before. Gretchen, Janet’s best friend, is the one to save the day and rescue Tommy Lin—but, as she holds him through his transformations, she’s thinking of Janet, her best friend. She’s willing to hang onto the guy as he writhes and bites because she loves her friend. (I think it’s a platonic love, although, to be honest, we really needed more here too.) Some of the flashbacks, as Gretchen remembers talking to Janet about Tommy, or just hanging out with her, are exquisite.

The world’s blowing up today, obviously, and I would have liked so much more in this little retelling of Tam Lin. I needed more with the motorcycle gang, more with Tommy, even more with Janet and Gretchen, though their love for each other shines pretty damn clear. (I also would have liked more cars. Le shrug.) But my own real complaint is that Tommy Lin is too short, and that I would have liked Gretchen and Janet to, say, have some conversations about cars other than Tommy Lin.

All in all, Tommy Lin is fun, and beautifully drawn, and a good way to spend a bit of time as the world descends into war.

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