Mature Content Ahead!
Halloween is fast approaching and its my favorite time of the year so I have no problem starting early! First off, I love reading graphic novels! There are so many to read that I can't hardly keep up, and I have so many on my wishlist I'll be broke forever! Luckily I'm now a card-carrying member of the Geek Literati, that is, I finally got my library card! Amazingly they have some stock of popular titles I've been waiting to read. Below I've reviewed some witchy ones, just in time for the season. Let me tell you what I love, and maybe you'll be just as inspired as I am.
The first I'll mention is The Unwritten: Volume 2, that I picked up at the library. I had to start with Volume 2 first because the first volume wasn't there. The story is very easy to pick up, and is loosely, or very obviously, tied to Harry Potter! I love Harry Potter, which is what intrigued me about this book. Mind you, its a blatant rip-off, as many ideas start in comic books, but it takes the reader on a different kind of journey. In this series, Tom Taylor is the son of a writer who has written a popular childrens book about a boy wizard named Tommy Taylor! The world is obsessed with Tommy Taylor much to the chagrin of his namesake. Tom is a nobody aside from his name, and purposeful likeness to the fictional character. Things begin to take a turn in Book One when Tom is kidnapped by a deranged fan at a comic convention who looks exactly like the book's villain Ambrosio, an immortal vampire.
The fictitious book serves as a parody of sorts of the Harry Potter stories, but also it stylistically comments on the very real events affecting "real-life" Tom. And soon, the book world and reality begin to merge. The magic begins when Tom Taylor is not just a mirror of Tommy Taylor, but their worlds are colliding. It becomes as if the collected love and belief of the fans of Tommy Taylor are bringing the book to life! I know its the dream of any Harry Potter fan! The use of this narrative device is genius to comment on celebrity/hero worship, and the confines of what we know as reality.
Now a word of caution, these graphic novels are labeled for young adults, and if you haven't read comic books in a while, you may be surprised at how adult is "young adult" because there is graphic violence involved. The story is very much for an older audience while still maintaining a hint of irreverent innocence for comedic value or to further define the boundaries of innocence vs. depravity. In this particular volume, Tom Taylor is arrested for the deaths of a number of prominent writers, and is sent to a prison to await trial in France. The children of the prison warden are kept sheltered from the news of Tom's imprisonment as they are big fans of Tommy and the magical book series. And one of the fun moments, shows a man that is trapped in a storybook much like Winnie the Pooh inside the body of a rabbit, and begins to go mad trying to escape it, all the while cussing and belittling the other inhabitants of his whimsical prison. Even the artwork of the novel changes to reflect the different worlds.
My next witchy graphic novel is much more horrifying. I'm not usually a fan of horror, but I've been delving into more creepy things thanks to my partner! To be honest the stories can be quite good, and so often they have ties to elements of fantasy, in fact the horror genre is often credited as "adult" fantasy. Regardless I still have to close my eyes on the scary parts!
In comic book form though, its much easier to stomach. I'm actually still reading this one, slowly. The story begins in a dark forest, in particular one tree that is hollowed out and imprisoning a young woman. She is part of a centuries old ritual, and apparently meant for sacrifice. Fast forward to present day, and we have a family moving to this area escaping a traumatic event involving their daughter. During a fight with a bully in the woods, the bully finds herself lunch for a nearby tree that swallows her whole.
I love a good witch story. Even though they are often the villains, there are very few that are actually frightening or live up to their roles as horror archetypes. And I'm perfectly fine with that, as I enjoy them nonetheless. But this story seems set to prove that they can be scary. All the while, the artwork is colorful and GORGEOUS. There are many layers of texture and color that illustrate the bright areas of the story, and even the dark. And while I haven't seen a physical witch yet in the story, I can't wait!
There are visual cues provided that the witches are very much tied to the forest and the trees in particular, perhaps even one with them? The family find themselves witness to many warnings while settling in to their new surroundings, and there's no shortage of blood and gore to shake things up from the eye-pleasing art style. Even though I haven't finished it, I can already tell I like it and I'm excited to see where it goes.
Ok I might be biased on this one. Many of you know I love to see diversity in my entertainment, and that goes double for my comic books! In Rat Queens, we have a classic fantasy inspired world not unlike Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings have made popular. The creators don't shy away from making distinct individuals however with well-rounded personalities. These aren't your typical magic girls, looking pretty, and seeking world peace! These are women embracing the dark and brutal nature of their world, and they are not without flaws and vice because of it. They get beat up, they get bloody, they get dirty, then they get drunk, and they wouldn't have it any other way! One might say the women act more like brute men than dignified women warriors, but one can look elsewhere for stereotypes! There is a refreshing "feminist" vibe that seeks to break down what it means to be a female fighter. These women are less Amazon warriors and more tortured, yet bad-ass Xena types. (Sidenote: I love and miss that warrior princess.)
Their adventures begin with assignments from the city to clear out the problem areas affecting peaceful life for the citizens. There are a number of other teams of fighters depicted also, which provide some comedic value as there are some stereotypes being parodied there to great effect. Once out on the mission, we get a glimpse of the type of girls we're following, and just what makes them tick: drugs, sex, violence, and loss of faith. But money and glory are not far off too. The mission turns out to be a trap, and they narrowly escape with their lives. Who would be trying to knock them off, and why?! The other teams are also hit hard, and they learn quickly someone is out to rid the city of all the rowdy and often annoying members of the warrior class.
In the meantime we see the girls are not all hard as stone. We delve into the pasts with tender moments, coming-of-age decisions, and escapism. The ladies are likable without being lady-like, without being just bad-ass, without being reduced to narrow definitions! They make me laugh because they are smart and witty. They make me care about them because they are flawed and identifiable. They make me cry because they feel real and their deaths would hurt. I want to see them succeed, and want to see what shenanigans they get into along the way. Give me great diverse characters, comedic relief, throw in sass and sorcery, and I can't jump on the wagon fast enough!
That's all for now, I hope I piqued your interest in the comics world. If not, I gave away what a big geek I am at the very least! I look forward to pumpkins, witches, and spider webs next month, but in the meantime I'll be bringing the spooky season to my studio early! I have some sketches to share with you in upcoming posts, and some work for sale I'll be posting in my Etsy store. Isn't it about time you started decorating with some of my original work? Don't miss out!
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About the Artist
I would call myself a Jack of all Trades, but mostly because I'm interested in many areas of art if not all! I graduated with a BFA in Fine Art from the University of North Texas with a focus on Watercolor. I always had dreams of creative writing, and in 5th grade I wasn't too bad! Art clearly won out for my attention, but writing will always have a place in my heart!
What better way to write, I say, than to share a blog, and practice my second love while talking about my first! With that said, I hope you all enjoy my ramblings and please hit me up with any questions. :D Contact me!