Archive for Graphic novels

History Under the Mask

Cap-Truth

Truth: Red, White & Black

I’ve had a mind to review this one for ages, and African American History Month seems like a great time to do it. This was a seven-issue series published by Marvel back in 2003. It was written by the late Robert Morales and illustrated by Kyle Baker. It made a lot of racist douchegoblins really mad back in the day, so I figure it’s certainly worth reading.

Our setup here is that, after Steve Rogers becomes Captain America and Professor Erskine, the secretive creator of the Super-Soldier formula, is killed, the military is desperate to recreate the formula. And since they have almost no idea what was in the formula, they have to experiment with a lot of different concoctions, and they have to experiment on people they don’t give a damn about. So a bunch of black soldiers get recruited into the program, injected with variations of the formula, and die by the score.

“Why, that’s ridiculous! Black people would never be experimented on like that! All lives matter!”

To which, all you really have to say is Tuskegee. Which went on for 40 years, primarily for the sake of plain ol’ meanness.

Anyway, of the 300 men inducted into the new Super-Soldier program, only six survive, and are gifted with increased strength, stamina — and often, significant disfiguring mutations. They’re sent on dangerous missions against the Nazis, and over time, a combination of battlefield casualties and deaths from the unstable Super-Soldier formulas whittles their number down to just one — Isaiah Bradley. Frustrated by the military’s racist treatment and the inconsequential and foolish missions he’s been sent on, Bradley steals a spare Captain America uniform and takes the fight to the Nazis by himself — and he gets captured.

The story doesn’t take place entirely in the past — in the present day, Steve Rogers learns about the alternate Super-Soldier program for the first time and begins his own investigation of what happened to Isaiah Bradley. While he shuts down a number of racists who’d profited from exploiting black soldiers decades ago, he also discovers that Bradley’s ultimate legacy was perhaps even more amazing than his wartime career.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great story, with outstanding action, characterization, empathy, and unpredictability. There are several points where you think the story is going to go one way, but it completely surprises you and goes the other.

It’s an intensely emotional book, too — not merely because the lead characters have strong emotions, but because the emotions are so realistic and raw. Early in the Super-Soldier testing process, the families of all the inductees are told that they’ve been killed — and many other black soldiers are actually murdered to cover up the crimes — and the toll on the families is covered extensively. The anguish that comes from these unexpected deaths is rendered amazingly well, and their pain is felt by the reader, too. It’s not just the writing here — Kyle Baker’s art really brings it home. Sometimes the sorrow is visible and unmistakable, and sometimes it’s hidden below the surface, but it all feels real.

Baker’s art is often very cartoony, which is initially a shock when you start reading. It’s very far from the Marvel standard, but for the most part, it’s something you get used to quickly. Baker is a cartoonist’s cartoonist, and it’s a thrill to see him work. His vision here is intensely important, too — you can tell the characters mean a lot to him, and he works hard to make everyone unique and interesting. His work is, like I said before, emotionally resonant, from the faces to the eyes to the body language.

The comic is obviously fiction, but Morales’ appendix at the end of the book is definitely worth reading. He details some of his research and outlines how some of the scenes in the story were inspired. For history buffs, it’s a good read and includes suggestions for other books worth checking out.

It’s a sad comic in a lot of ways. But it’s got its unique glories, too, in moments both crashing and quiet. It’s also not at all easy to find — you can’t get it from Amazon without paying $50 or more. But I found my copy a couple years ago in one of the local comic shops for a normal price, so do some digging around. You should also be able to find it digitally. If you can find it, you’ll be very glad you got the opportunity to read it, so go pick it up.

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Good Golly, Miss Molly!

MollyDangerTPB

Molly Danger, Book One

I genuinely thought I’d reviewed this ages ago, and was completely surprised to discover I’d let it fall by the wayside. Time to remedy that problem before it’s too late.

This comic was a labor of love for writer/artist Jamal Igle, and he only got to do it originally because of a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Our main character is, of course, Molly Danger, a super-strong, super-tough alien superhero in Coopersville, New York. She’s also immortal — she looks like she’s a ten-year-old human girl, but she’s actually at least 30 years old.

She’s also painfully lonely. The military organization in charge of Molly refuses to let her have contact with children her own age, and she get to meet very few civilians. They’re apparently terrified that she’ll accidentally harm a civilian — which seems a bit nuts for a superhero who’s been active for about 20-30 years without killing scads of people…

Anyway, Molly gets to fight a couple supervillains — the super-smart brain-in-a-jar Medulla and his giant robot and the superspeedster Slipscott. She also gets help from Austin Briggs, a pilot for the cops and later for her own organization — he’s a thrill-seeker who’s willing to take on risks to help Molly get the bad guys — and ultimately, to help her connect with real people.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art is fantastic, the action and dialogue are a thrill, and the humor is top-notch.

The characters are pretty grand. Molly is just fantastic — mostly rambunctious 10-year-old, though her more advanced age pops up here and there when she demonstrates that she’s been trying to figure out what motivates the supervillains who plague her. She knows if she could figure out what they want, she’d have a chance to reform them. But for the most part, she’s all about the action and taking risks — even more so when she has a chance to get to meet and hang out with kids her own age.

If I’ve got a complaint, it’s that there haven’t been more of these books. Molly’s shown up in a small number of guest appearances in other Action Lab comics, and a new Kickstarter funded a new ongoing series — but dang, it’s been a long wait…

If you love superhero comics — and especially if you’ve got daughters who love superhero comics and never get to see anyone like them getting to kick some tail — then you’re probably going to enjoy this one. Go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Cleopatra in Space

It’s Christmas Week, so back we go into the Holiday Gift Bag so you can find great gifts for the comics fan in your life. Today, let’s check out Cleopatra in Space!

CleopatraInSpace1

Some of y’all may recognize Mike Maihack’s name and art style — he’s the artist behind the wonderful “Batgirl and Supergirl” mini-comics. Well, he also created this astoundingly cool series of graphic novels. So far, there are two — “Target Practice” and “The Thief and the Sword” — but there’s a third one coming up in 2016.

So we start out with Cleopatra, teenaged princess, soon-to-be ruler of all Egypt — and a deeply bored kid who feels stifled by demands that she be a proper princess. She likes to go playing and exploring with a commoner friend, and one day, they accidentally uncover an unknown tomb, which ends up teleporting Cleo into the distant future. There, she discovers a high-tech Egypt-inspired utopia, where talking cats hold many positions of authority — and where she is foretold in prophecy as the savior of their society!

So on one hand — awesome! The future! Talking cats! But on the other hand — not awesome! She still has to go to school! Ugh, school. But on the other, other hand (We can do that because the future probably has three-handed aliens), part of her schoolwork involves combat training — and amazingly, Cleo is really, really good at combat. Which is good, because there are some bad people in the universe, and a lot of them want to kill her.

Oh, and one more bad thing — there’s no way to send Cleo back to her home time. So how can she get back to her friends and family? How is she going to become Queen of Egypt like history says she’ll be?

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Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an incredibly fun story, with great art, characters, action, and more.

If you’re familiar with Haihack’s work, you’ll be pleased to hear that his art is just as charming and wonderful as ever. The main characters are wonderfully emotionally satisfying as art — and the background characters, scenery, and architecture are also really fun to look at. The design of the techno-Egyptian future is outstanding.

Character interaction and conflict are really great, too. Cleo is our main character, but as the Chosen One, a lot of mundane things often come really easy for her, and everyone’s expectations for her are really high — and her more normal, non-Chosen friends just kinda want her to hang out and have fun instead of being the uber-popular badass. This ends up being a lot more fun than you’d expect.

It’s also pretty cool seeing everyone take orders and learn lessons from cats — the cats are generally a lot more intelligent than humans and they hold most of the teaching positions. It’s pretty fun to watch Cleo sassing the cats who hold authority over her.

The action is entirely fantastic. We get just about every kind of action scene — shootouts, chases, melee, mass battles, you name it — and they’re all exciting and fun and amazingly kinetic.

These books will be really popular with anyone, young or old, who enjoys all-ages comics — they’ll probably be extra-fun for girls who crave their own comic book action heroes. Go pickem up!

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Holiday Gift Bag: Blacksad

It’s time for us to take another dive into our Holiday Gift Bag for great comics gift ideas for your family and friends. Today, let’s take a look at Blacksad.

Blacksad

So what do you get when you have two Spanish comics creators, Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, creating a giant comic book for a French publisher about American detective stories — and anthropomorphic animals? You get something that’s way cooler than you were expecting.

Our main character is John Blacksad, a black cat and private investigator. He lives in a version of 1950s America where everyone is a semi-cartoonish anthropomorphic animal. He grew up poor, he’s pretty easy-going, but you don’t want to make him mad, because he knows a lot about dishing out violence.

What kinda stuff happens to Blacksad? Film noir stuff happens to Blacksad.

In our first story, his former lover is murdered by persons unknown, and he dedicates himself to digging through the muck of the underworld — and their big-money financiers — to learn the truth.

In the second story, he’s called upon to investigate a kidnapping involving a bunch of white supremacists — white fur supremacists, actually — and their leader is a gigantic polar bear who’s also the police chief.

In the third story, Blacksad meets an old friend, his favorite professor from college, and must help him and his associates when they’re accused of being Communists — but being a private eye isn’t going to help much when the FBI and powerful politicians get on his tail.

In amongst all this are shootings, beatings, sex, double-crosses, alcohol, cigarettes, jokes, terrors, sorrows, and a whole lot more.

Verdict: Thumbs up. These are wonderfully told stories, as hard-boiled as you can get, and lushly, astonishingly beautifully illustrated.

The art style is cartoony — Guarnido, the artist, used to work at Disney — but the content is a lot more adult. There’s sex and nudity, and people in these stories don’t bounce back from violence — there are a lot of deaths. In other words, even with the funny animal style, you won’t want to get this for your younger kids.

The stories are for adults — and even the animal characters help emphasize this. There’s nothing that quite shows how silly racism is when the white supremacist group is obsessed with the color of their own fur. Blacksad gets on the bad side of both the Arctic Pride group and an opposing gang of black-furred animals — because he’s got just a little white fur on his muzzle.

But even with characters who are cats and dogs and bears and foxes and rhinos and turtles and owls and gorillas and roosters and lizards and deer and giraffes — there are still plenty of times you forget you’re reading a comic full of animals and start thinking of all of them as just as human as you are. And that’s one of the signs of a hell of a great story.

Got someone on your shopping list who loves hard-boiled detective stories or beautifully-illustrated comics? They’re going to love this one. Go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Relish

Time for us to get back into our pre-holiday gift recommendations, so let’s take a look at Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.

Relish

I am, I should say, an amazingly bad cook. I have enormous trouble putting a meal together that doesn’t involve either pouring milk on cereal or sticking a package in a microwave. For that reason alone, I was hesitant to get this book — it’s got a reputation as being a comic made for foodies and chefs, so I was concerned there’d not be anything in it for me. Obviously, I was wrong.

What we’ve got here is a memoir comic — Knisley tells a number of stories from her life. She introduces us to her New York City childhood, growing up among food lovers, chefs, restaurant critics, and people who loved to eat, prepare, and share food.

We follow her as she and her mother move to the country, slowly getting used to rural life and rural cooking. We tag along as she takes trips to Mexico, Japan, and Italy, as she discovers the food cravings she shares with her mother, as we explore her secret love of junk food, her quest to create the perfect croissant, and the worst meal she ever ate.

And after almost every chapter, we get a recipe.

Marinated lamb, pesto, chocolate chip cookies, huevos rancheros, sushi rolls, sangria, shepherd’s pie, and much, much more. All of them wonderfully illustrated to help make the entire process easier and cooler.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The writing and art are both lots of fun. Knisley’s stories are grandly human and often hilarious. Her childhood trip to Mexico with an old friend is spotlighted with — aside from all the glorious details of the food they got to eat — her friend’s acquisition of a colossal stash of pornographic magazines, which he carted all over in his overstuffed backpack, convinced he’d purchased the greatest treasure of his life. Her attempts to make her own croissants are constant but hilarious failures, and her recipe at the end of the chapter recommends that readers just get the canned croissants at the grocery store. And during her teenaged trip to Italy with her foodie father, she rebels by… eating at McDonald’s.

And her skill at writing about all the glories of food — good food, gourmet food, junk food, comfort food, and every other kind of food — is where this comic is really just absolutely fantastic. I’m a terrible cook, and I have a terribly unsophisticated palate — but her writing, art, and recipes make me wish I were more of a foodie and that I was capable of navigating my way around a kitchen.

If you’re looking for a gift for someone who loves cooking and loves good food, you can bet they’re going to enjoy this. Go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Princeless

Well, here we are again. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and we’re being told by advertisers and the media — and way too many people who should know better — that the very best post-Thanksgiving activity is getting up in the middle of the night to run around shopping malls like good credit-card-wielding psychotics, abusing exhausted retail clerks and breaking the bank on “doorbuster bargains” that aren’t actually very cheap. There is, thank goodness, a slowly growing backlash over the idea that we all have to go crazy for Black Friday — but on the other hand, there’s not really much to do after Thanksgiving, and it’s not like shopping is some sort of crime.

But you can shop better and smarter. You don’t have to deal with the gibbering lunatics at the department stores. There are lots of stores out there that don’t attract hordes of zombie shoppers — and one of them is your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Book Store, which tends to be much more sedate on Black Friday and which still has great gifts you can buy for the comics fan on your shopping list.

So let’s begin our annual review of some of the best comics gifts out there. Today, we’ll start with a comic series called Princeless.

PrincelessTPB

Careful readers should take note of the “L” right in the middle of the title — this is a story about a princess, but she’s certainly not defined any attempt to get herself a Prince Charming.

The story, written by Jeremy Whitley and illustrated by M. Goodwin, focuses on Princess Adrienne, who has been imprisoned at the top of a tower by her cruel father. The similarities to any other stories you may have read end there — she thinks the idiots trying to rescue her are, well, idiots. She teams up with the dragon assigned to guard her. She rescues herself. And then she decides to go rescue her sisters, who have all been similarly imprisoned in towers by their tyrannical father.

And when she realizes she needs decent armor, she goes to a cool half-dwarf armorer (she got her mother’s height) named Bedelia — and then she teams up with Bedelia, too, so they can go on fightin’ evil and rescuing her sisters!

Do Adrienne, Bedelia, and the dragon Sparks have a chance to rescue everyone? Will her fairly awful father come after her? Will her poetry-loving brother be able to aid her? And will Adrienne finally find some armor that’s built for action and not for cheesecake?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is pretty dang fantastic, the art is pretty dang fantastic, the whole thing is pretty dang fantastic.

Characterization is a big thing in this book, because Adrienne is a wonderful character. She’s peeved at all the nonsense around her — her father locking her in a tower, a bunch of idiots trying to rescue her and then getting eaten by a dragon, sexist guards who think they’re allowed to mack on every girl in the area. And she’s not just peeved — she also does something to deal with the things that peeve her. She’s no passive nobody — she gets up, she kicks ass, she learns how to kick more ass.

There’s a lot of great humor, too. This is designed to be an all-ages comic, and kids love a heroine who can crack jokes — and who can lose her dignity without losing her awesomeness.

If you’ve got a kid — or an adult, for that matter — who loves clever fantasy, they’ll love this. If they love kick-ass female heroes, they’ll love this. If they love kick-ass female heroes of color (because yeah, Adrienne’s dark skin isn’t a tan, and her straightened hair came out of a bottle — and it gets curly fast once the adventuring begins), then they’ll definitely love this.

You know what? You should go pick this one up.

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The Woods are Dark and Bloody

ThroughTheWoods

Through the Woods

There are so many different ways to create horror, especially in comics. If you’re Richard Corben, you go with surreality, cheesecake, and backwoods decadence. If you’re Bernie Wrightson, you go with lifelike detail and emotion. If you’re Mike Mignola, you go with thick lines and hints of antiquity. If you’re Junji Ito, you go with body horror, spirals, and fish.

If you’re Emily Carroll, you go with subtly complex simplicity, negative space, vivid colors, and fairy tales.

Many of y’all are already familiar with Emily Carroll, whose webcomics can be enjoyed on her website. She published a collection of stories just last year, only one of which — the masterful and near-legendary “His Face All Red” — is available on her website. The rest are gloriously new and wonderfully diabolical.

We get “Our Neighbor’s House,” in which three young girls are left alone in a winter storm — until they encounter a strange man with a broad-brimmed hat and a full-face smile. We get “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold,” a ghostly variant of the Bluebeard legend. We get “My Friend Janna,” in which two friends dabble in spiritualism and discover something spectral and predatory. And we get “The Nesting Place,” in which a girl visits her brother and discovers that his wife is hiding a gruesome secret underneath her skin.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Carroll does an amazing job of creating stories that seem both timeless and ancient, and utterly new and shocking. I think my favorite story in this one is the first — “Our Neighbor’s House” — because it never shows you anything horrific and lets your imagination do all the heavy lifting — which I still think is Carroll’s greatest strength.

But that doesn’t mean the others aren’t all fantastic, too. “My Friend Janna” brings us subtle terrors we’re not even sure if we can see clearly and definitely can’t possibly understand. Is Janna being haunted at all? What’s the significance of the pulse inside the ghost? And “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold” is more gruesome but also a slower burn. The song sung throughout helps a story already rooted in the past feel even older, like it’s something pulled up from antiquity.

“The Nesting Place” is the tale that seems to break most of the rules one expects from Carroll’s work — it’s much more modern, there’s more dialogue, less omniscient narration, and the horrors are downright gory. But I loved the hell out of this one, too. The surreal shapeshifting monster in this story has horribly human motivations, and that makes the story more powerful and more frightening.

You love horror, don’t you? You love beautiful artwork and splended little stories and fears both subtle and overt, both quiet and shrieking, both chilling and gore-caked? Go pick this one up.

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The Dark is Rising

ThenItWasDark

Then It Was Dark: A Paranormal Anthology

It’s Halloween week, and I ain’t done near enough reviews of scary stuff, so let’s remedy that now with a nice fat graphic novel/anthology of spooky stories.

This book, edited by Sarah Benkin, collects short stories from a wide variety of independent comic creators, all telling (supposedly? possibly?) true stories of brushes with the supernatural and paranormal. There are demons and ghosts that attack sleepers in the middle of the night; scientific experiments with seances that don’t go as expected; ghosts that help out at summer camps; reincarnated twins; ghost children playing tag; UFO sightings; floating, severed heads; historical hauntings; and much, much more. Some of the stories are entirely unexplained — just weird experiences that no one ever figured out what was happening. Some have actual scientific explanations — one tale about a haunted mansion in the 1920s ends with the revelation that the house’s furnace was in terrible condition and was belching carbon monoxide into every room of the home.

As I said, there are a ton of creators who contributed to this, including Molly Ostertag, Diana Nock, C.B. Webb, Dirk Manning, A.R. Lytle, Henry Gustavson, Sarah Dill, Sarah Winifred Searle, Jen Hickman, Karen Kuo, Cody Pickrodt, and many, many more. There are even a few non-traditional comics creators like Wesley Sun, a minister who writes (with Simone Angelini illustrating) about performing an exorcism on a friend in college and his fears that his inexperience may have left her permanently possessed by a demon.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There’s a lot of spooky stuff in here, in a ton of different artistic and storytelling styles.

There are a lot of these tales that are clear night terrors — essentially waking up while your brain is in REM mode, so you’re paralyzed, not breathing great, and basically having waking nightmares that feel incredibly real. I had these for several years and only broke the cycle by never sleeping on my back. So the descriptions of these nighttime encounters with demons and ghosts sitting on your chest, keeping you from moving, and scaring the holy howling hell out of you were very familiar to me, and didn’t really scare me. I wanted to tell the creators to sleep on their sides and they’d feel better. A lot of the other stories were about things that I suspected were just extremely vivid dreams.

But you know, the fact that I could find rational explanations for them doesn’t mean they aren’t still nicely eerie tales, especially told in the volume we get here. You get four or five stories in a row about nightmares and night terrors, all illustrated with astonishing creepiness, and you’ll still find yourself flipping a few extra lights on at night.

And there are quite a few stories that didn’t seem like bad dreams and didn’t come with easy explanations. Tales with multiple witnesses are harder to dismiss, of course. And some of the stories are just fantastically weird. There’s a very short story by Lauren Ashizawa about a man forced to use a rural outhouse. He suddenly realizes the cat that’s been watching him through the slats of the walls is actually something way bigger than a cat. The tale doesn’t end with any sort of explanation — but it does feature the best gag in the entire book.

This is a very fun anthology, wonderfully creepy and perfect for the Halloween season. For now, it’s only available digitally, though I’ve got a physical copy because I backed the Kickstarter. But however you get it, make sure you go pick this one up.

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Deal Me In

NewDealTPB

The New Deal

If y’all read the “Green River Killer” graphic novel from a few years ago, you may be familiar with Jonathan Case’s artwork — and he’s still making cool graphic novels now.

His latest is “The New Deal,” set in New York City during the Great Depression, with most of the action taking place in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotel. Our main characters are Frank and Theresa. Frank is a bellhop who tries to keep his nose clean, but has a bit of a gambling problem — hence owing a lot of money to a shady rich SOB — and a slight case of sticky fingers — nothing big stolen yet, but he could get in serious trouble if anyone catches him. Theresa is an African-American maid who really should be working a better job than a hotel maid. She’s also an actress, playing one of the witches in Orson Welles’ so-called Voodoo Macbeth. She’s smart and fairly honest and tries to keep an eye on Frank to keep him from getting into trouble.

And with a bunch of new guests in the hotel and a lot of pressure on the staff to keep the guests happy, there are suddenly mysterious thefts happening left and right — and both Frank and Theresa are being implicated! Can they discover who the real thief is? Can they avoid being sent to prison? Can they avoid being killed? Can they, against all odds, actually come out ahead when this is all over?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a great light-hearted little caper, with plenty of twists and turns, villains and heroes and antiheroes, plots, schemes, cops, robbers, gangsters — and a worthwhile happy ending.

The characters were fun, and I felt like the characterization and dialogue were pretty great, too. I really loved the historical setting, and I was pretty excited to learn that Welles’ Voodoo Macbeth was a real thing — lots of cool historical details helped make the setting come to life.

All this, plus Case’s great (mostly) black-and-white artwork, too! You should be able to find this or order this through your local comic shop — it’s pretty much brand new right now — but you can also get it online, too.

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Magical Happy Unicorn Time!

PhoebeAndHerUnicorn

Phoebe and her Unicorn and Unicorn on a Roll

Let’s be honest, sometimes, all we want is a simple story about a little girl and her special unicorn friend.

These graphic novels (really a collection of strips from a webcomic) by Dana Simpson focus on a little girl named Phoebe who befriends an actual for-reals unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. Phoebe wins Marigold’s trust by freeing her from a devastating trap — Marigold had caught a glimpse of her reflection in a lake and was transfixed by her own beauty, and Phoebe broke the spell when she accidentally pegged her in the head while skipping stones. Marigold granted Phoebe a wish, and Phoebe wished for her to be her best friend.

From there, they have many adventures — well, they have mostly fairly kid-centered adventures. They torment Dakota, the school’s alpha — and other than that, they mostly hang out together and chat. And they razz each other about the relative strengths and weaknesses of their species. Marigold is able to go out in public thanks to her magical Shield of Boringness that makes everyone disregard the fact that there’s a freakin’ unicorn walking around in public, which gives the two pals the opportunity for many more shenanigans.

UnicornOnARoll

Verdict: Thumbs up. You hear a lot of comparisons to Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” strip when people talk about Phoebe and her Unicorn, and while Watterson is unquestionably a better artist — no knock on Simpson, by the way — very few cartoonists will ever be as great as Watterson — the comparisons are pretty apt. The characters are pretty similar, though Phoebe is better behaved, and Marigold is 100% real. And the strong sense of play and fun and wonder is prevalent throughout the story.

The artwork is plenty of fun — very expressive in the way the best cartoons are. Characterization is also a great strength — Phoebe is smart and kind and a little lonely and a lot awkward and funny — and Marigold is graceful and egotistical and magical and patient and affectionate.

Why should you get these books instead of just reading them for free online? Well, first, it’s always nice to be able to support cartoonists. And more important for you, it’s easier to read this to your kids before bed in book form than it is on the tablet. Yes, your kids will love it — and if you’ve got kids who love smart heroines their own ages and hilarious magical unicorns? Well, this is going to become an incredibly prized possession.

Get it for your kids. Heck, get it for you — there’s plenty of stuff for grownups to laugh at, too. Just go pick it up.

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