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On the Ropes    by James Vance & Dan E. Burr order for
On the Ropes
by James Vance
Order:  USA  Can
W. W. Norton, 2013 (2013)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

In On the Ropes, authors James Vance and Dan E. Burr bring the Great Depression to stunning life. This graphic novel, the sequel to Vance and Burr's Kings in Disguise, once again follows the adventures of Fred Bloch.

Now eighteen, Fred has joined up with a traveling WPA circus, working as the helper to escape artist, Gordon Corey. However, both men have deep, dark secrets. Fred is working as a go-between, communicating the steel workers' strike plans, and Gordon is running from a violent past. Their secrets soon catch up with them in the form of two hired goons working to break the impending strike ... and these ruthless men will stop at nothing to get what they want.

On the Ropes proves that graphic novels can be of literary merit. Vance and Burr have created a moving story about trying to get by in 1937, with a detailed glimpse into the WPA and the steel unions. The artwork helps to set the tone and is brilliant in and of itself. Although On the Ropes is the sequel to Kings in Disguise, it reads well as a standalone, but does leave the reader wanting to read James Vance and Dan E. Burr's previous collaboration.

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