From the first chapter, reoccurring themes of small scams and funny retail math set the stage for the larger deceptions. Tricked follows the lives and loves of six seemingly unconnected characters whose paths occasionally cross as they move toward a final convergence. Each character is actively holding something back that must be resolved either by coming to terms with it or with crisis. The Little Piggy Diner and the its owners round out the cast and provides a reoccurring location.
What makes Robinson's body of work so relevant is in his non-heroic, non-autobiographical long work he has given us some incredibly dynamic characters. All likeable even while unapologetic, petty and flawed. While deceptions and revelations shift our sympathies towards the characters, it is our empathy that turns the page. (I was barely able to closes this 349 page book. I also finished Robinson's Box of Poison's 608pgs in a long weekend and To Cool to Be Forgotten's 128pgs in a sitting.)
I love Box Office Poison, but it is almost his juvenilia. In Tricked, the wild experimentation with page layouts that show his love for Dave Sim has settled down. It is more the case that Tricked 's symmetry of form and content has unified into a narrative fatit-accompli. Matt Kindt gorgeously playful rap-around cover for the second edition highlights the interconnected totality of the book.
In Robinsion's speech at Staple! 2011, he claimed that he was a better writer than an illustrator. On the face of this claim it is him talking down his cartooning, but I would argue that it highlights one his strengthens as a cartoonist. As a writer he is very good about allowing his character drawings to hold most of the diegesis of the internal states of his characters. The lines of his faces, body posture and even the externalization of internal body image creates an expansive dimensionality to his characters. If he had attempted to convey this content in prose it would quickly become ponderous and preachy. As it is, the character contradictions are conveyed atmospherically. The accomplishment has relevant teachings in the larger world of the narrative arts as one of the defining separations between high and low art.
There is an open question of whether he has a profound admiration for or is disgusted by humanity. Tricked can be read as love for the human condition (warts and all) or as condemnation of human as all too human. Either was the trick of the book, and Robinsion's work in general is sincerely guileless and a beautiful read.
You can click to Mr Robinson web-site. If you don't have a hip local comic book store you should buy his books from his Top Shelf page because Chris "rock-"Staros and the gang at Top Shelf deserve your love too. The Top Shelf page is also a great resources. If your trying to squeeze every nickel out of your dimes you might consider by a digital copy from Top Shelf or the comiXology smart phone app.