M. Alice LeGrow

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M. Alice LeGrow
Born Mary Alice LeGrow
Olathe, Kansas, United States
Education Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sequential Art
Alma mater Savannah College of Art and Design
Occupation alternative comics artist, costume designer[nb 1]
Years active 2003—present
Notable work Bizenghast
Website bizenghast.com

Mary Alice "Marty" LeGrow (born 1981 in Olathe, Kansas, United States), better known by her pen name M. Alice LeGrow, is an American alternative comics artist, best known for her gothic, dark fantasy graphic novel series Bizenghast. Growing up in Wiesbaden, a city in southwestern Germany, LeGrow did not have an interest in comics, as they were not readily available there. She and her family moved to New England, the northeastern region of the United States, during her middle-school years, and in her first year of high school, learnt about comics and anime (Japanese animated cartoons). In 2003, she graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sequential Art.

Her 2003 short story "Nickolai", about a grieving only child and the ghost she befriends, won a runner-up place in publisher Tokyopop's Rising Stars of Manga competition. She successfully pitched Bizenghast to the Tokyopop editors, and worked on the eight-volume series from 2004 to 2011. Set in the eponymous New England town, it focuses on a schizophrenic orphan who finds herself tasked with returning each night to a mausoleum and appeasing the ghosts within it. Published from 2005 to 2012, Bizenghast has been translated into twelve languages, and received praise and criticism from reviewers.

Life and career[edit]

Mary Alice LeGrow was born in 1981,[4] in Olathe, Kansas, United States. She attended Savannah College of Art and Design, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sequential Art in 2003.[5][6] Her artistic style was influenced by Kenji Tsuruta,[4] Gustave Doré,[4] Aubrey Beardsley,[4] Will Eisner,[5] and Japanese manga.[7]

At the 2003 Otakon, an anime convention in Baltimore, Maryland, LeGrow heard about Tokyopop's Rising Stars of Manga competition from her friend Christy Lijewski.[5] She entered a short piece entitled "Nikolai" in the contest, won a runner-up place in the competition and appeared in the 2003 Rising Stars of Manga comic anthology.[8] This was the introduction of her work to the publisher TOKYOPOP.

Following her successful pitch of her gothic, dark fantasy graphic novel series Bizenghast[nb 2] to the editors at Tokyopop,[8] she began work on the series in 2004 and completed the final, eighth volume in 2011.[9][12] Set in the eponymous New England town, it centers on Dinah Wherever, a schizophrenic orphan, and her only friend Vincent Monroe. Dinah finds herself tasked with returning each night to a mausoleum and appeasing the ghosts within.[13]

LeGrow described Bizenghast as "about life, death and fabulous outfits (not in that order)", and notes the presence of religious themes.[5]

Tokyopop published the first seven volumes of Bizenghast from 2005 to 2010,[5] with the final volume published in July 2012 through an agreement with Right Stuf.[14] Additionally, the series is distributed in New Zealand and Australia by Madman Entertainment,[15] and has been translated into twelve languages,[9] among them Hungarian,[16] German,[17] and Finnish.[18] Bizenghast received praise and criticism from reviewers. The September 2005 issue of Teen People listed Bizenghast as the Hot Book of the Month.[19] Sheena McNeil of Sequential Tart praised the first volume as "a highly enjoyable read".[20] IGN's KJB praised it as "one of the most interesting manga to come alone in some time".[13] In contrast, Anime News Network's Zac Bertschy considered it "one of the weaker entries in Tokyopop's fledgling OEL manga line".[11] David Welsh wrote: "It’s got a handle on the cosmetics, but central elements of story and character are vague and underdeveloped."[10]

On March 27, 2012, LeGrow announced a Kickstarter project for a self-published graphic novel series titled The Elephant Book,[21] which she described as "about the power of human imagination and invention."[22] According to LeGrow, her project has received a favorable response.[6] Set in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Elephant Book focuses on Williams and Fairfax, who find themselves caught between two rival organizations: Artifex and the Free Will Society.[22] She chose Philadelphia as the initial setting of the series, because she felt that the city was "often overlooked as a setting" in comics.[6] For her goal of creating a "really rich backdrop to every scene," she researched and photographed various locations in Philadelphia, including the historical prison Eastern State Penitentiary.[6]

Reviewers have discussed her artistic style. Johanna Draper Carlson, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, described LeGrow's art as reminiscent of those of "some classic fantasy indy comics, perhaps (for example) the work of Teri Sue Wood."[23] In a review of the first volume of Bizenghast, another reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote that LeGrow drew her backgrounds in the style of German expressionism.[24] In her review of the Bizenghast artbook, Mania Entertainment's Danielle Van Gorder noted LeGrow's range of styles spanning "from a little bit gothic and a little bit grotesque to detailed work that pays homage to antique woodcuts."[25]


Graphic novels & short stories
  • "Nikolai"
    (2003, short story, Rising Stars of Manga volume 2, Tokyopop, ISBN 978-1-59182-536-4)
  • Bizenghast
    (2005–2012, graphic novel series, Tokyopop, 8 volumes)
  • The Poison Apple Book of Stories
    (2010, self-published mini-comic)[26]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Her biography in Rising Stars of Manga lists her as an artist and a costume designer.[1] In 2009, she designed and sewed the costumes for a wedding-themed photoshoot for the spring 2009 issue of the English-language Gothic & Lolita Bible, with the exception of two pieces brought by the other two models.[2] She also modelled one of her costumes, and designed the set.[2] In 2011, she worked as an assistant costume designer at the haunted house event Terror Behind the Walls at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.[3]
  2. ^ LeGrow considers Bizenghast to be a graphic novel series,[9] while reviewers have categorized it as global manga.[10][11]
  1. ^ Panicca, Mark, ed. (December 2003). "Nickolai::Runner Up::". The Rising Stars of Manga. 2. Los Angeles: Tokyopop. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-59182-536-4. OCLC 54681433. 
  2. ^ a b LeGrow, M. Alice (20 March 2009). "Gothic and Lolita Bible Shoot". DeviantArt. Retrieved 14 September 2012. 
  3. ^ LeGrow, M. Alice (September 2011). "Save Coupons, Save Dosh, Be Scared". Eat Cake Frosting. Tumblr. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Q + A with M. Alice". Mangaka America: Manga by America's Hottest Artists. New York: HarperCollins. 2006. pp. 140–47. ISBN 978-0-06-113769-3. OCLC 318666872. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Ong Pang Kean, Benjamin (6 June 2005). "Checking out Bizenghast With M. Alice LeGrow". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 14 February 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c d Goodman, David (13 April 2012). "A Q&A with Philly Writer/Artist M. Alice LeGrow". Geekadelphia. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Douresseau, LJ (2 March 2004). "Interview with Marty LeGrow". Comic Book Bin. Coolstreak Cartoons. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  8. ^ a b "Rising Stars Winner to Have Series Published". Anime News Network. 25 February 2004. Archived from the original on 23 June 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c "About the Author". M. Alice LeGrow. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2010. 
  10. ^ a b Welsh, David (3 February 2010). "Quick and the Dead". Comic World News. Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Bertschy, Zac (15 December 2005). "Bizenghast GN1 - Review -". Anime News Network. Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  12. ^ LeGrow, M. Alice (12 May 2011). "39 Envelopes". Eat Cake Frosting. Tumblr. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  13. ^ a b KJB (11 August 2005). "IGN: Bizenghast Vol. 1 Review". IGN. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  14. ^ "Right Stuf, Inc. Announces Exclusive Deal With Creator M. Alice LeGrow & Tokyopop to Publish Bizenghast, Vol. 8" (Press release). Anime News Network. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Bizenghast (Manga)". Madman Entertainment. Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  16. ^ "Mangattack" (in Hungarian). Mangattack. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2009. 
  17. ^ "Bücher: Manga: Bizenghast" [Books: Manga: Bizenghast] (in German). Tokyopop. Archived from the original on 7 July 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009. 
  18. ^ "Vanhoja julkaisuja" (in Finnish). Pauna Media Group. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  19. ^ "Tokyopop Gets More Coverage in Teen Mags". ICv2. 28 July 2005. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  20. ^ McNeil, Sheena (1 October 2005). "Bizenghast#1". Sequential Tart. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  21. ^ LeGrow, M. Alice (27 March 2012). "Kickstarter Campaign is now!". Eat Cake Frosting. Tumblr. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "The Elephant Book". bizenghast.com. M. Alice LeGrow. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  23. ^ Draper Carlson, Johanna (30 August 2009). "Bizenghast Wins! Last OEL Manga Standing". Comics Worth Reading. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2009. 
  24. ^ "Bizenghast, Vol. 1.(Brief Article)(Book Review)". Publishers Weekly. Accessmylibrary. 15 August 2005. 
  25. ^ Van Gorder, Danielle (1 February 2007). "Bizenghast: Falling into Fear Vol. #01". Mania Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  26. ^ LeGrow, M. Alice. "Poison Apple Cover by *sadwonderland". DeviantArt. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  27. ^ "Bizenghast: Falling into Fear Volume 1". Tokyopop. Archived from the original on 13 January 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2009. 
  28. ^ "Bizenghast:color me manga (Book, 2007)". WorldCat. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  29. ^ "Bizenghast: The Novel". Tokyopop. Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 

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