First Look – Tom Humberstone’s ‘Suzanne – The Jazz Age Goddess of Tennis’

by Richard Bruton

News fresh from Avery Hill Publishing of one to come later this year, but well worth taking a look at… Suzanne – The Jazz Age Goddess of Tennis by Tom Humberstone.

Sure, the book’s not out until 1st September 2022 in the UK and 8th September 2022 in the USA, but this is the sort of book you’ll be wanting to tell your comics retailer to order and make a note in your diary to pick up.

It tells the story of Suzanne Lenglen, a trailblazing woman in both sport and society, one of the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen, but a name that few remember.

French tennis player Suzanne Lenglen became the youngest major champion in history with her win in the 1914 World Hard Court Championship at just fifteen. She’d go on to be ranked as the very first World Number One from 1921 to 1926, win eight singles Grand Slams and 13 in doubles, four World Hard Court Championships in singles, six in doubles, six Wimbledon singles titles – she truly was one of the greatest tennis players.

The French press knew her as La Divine (The Goddess) and she both scandalised and entranced the public as she set about revolutionising the womens’ game, changing ideas of both what sportswomen should wear and how they should play. She was a true pioneer and, like most pioneers, especially female pioneers, she was both beloved and hated for what she achieved.

Tom Humberstone’s Suzanne tells a tale of the times, delving into how someone this important and influential is now relatively unknown, and tackles her relationship with her trainer father, bias in sporting journalism, and her own divisive personality, something that allowed her to forge a new path — and to change sport forever.

It looks rather wonderful, as anyone who’s followed Humberstone’s work over the years will not be at all surprised at. I think I first saw his work around 2008, 2009, and it was obvious from the moment I saw it that he was a grand talent. Over the years, Humberstone’s self-published his own material and the Solipsistic Pop anthology, and his work has appeared in Phonogram at Image Comics, Doctor Who from Titan, and the Eisner award-nominated Nelson from Blank Slate Comics. He currently writes and draws non-fiction comics for the Ignatz award-winning The Nib, as well as the New Statesman, Vox, Buzzfeed and others.

Suzanne – The Jazz Age Goddess of Tennis by Tom Humberstone is a 208 page, softcover, full-colour graphic novel, released on 01/09/2022 (UK) & 08/09/2022 (North America).

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