Exhaustive but exhausting.

A metaphysical examination of 20th-century comics artists takes an odd turn.

With both metafictive and metaphysical slants, this exploration of midcentury photorealistic comics artists introduces Jack, a pretty young White woman working at Local Heroes Comic Books & Graphic Novels. She finds a strange comic on the counter called “The Strange Death of Alex Raymond,” and as she finishes reading it, the next issue suddenly appears. Chronicling the untimely death of artist Raymond, Sim and Grubaugh’s work transports readers along a comprehensive and dense history of the photorealistic style and the cadre of artists that shaped its evolution. However, about halfway through, the narrative switches course, eliminating Jack almost entirely and instead drawing increasingly tenuous and esoterically obsessive links to Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell. As the title dives down these rabbit holes, the text increasingly descends into incomprehensibility, punctuated with recursive chants and repetitive numerology. This devolution makes further reading extremely challenging, as intricate panels become cramped and text bubbles obscured. The finely detailed, highly stylized art, however, is beyond masterful and a true accomplishment. Ultimately, this is overly complex for a casual comics history buff and perhaps best appreciated by an academic audience.

Exhaustive but exhausting. (Graphic fiction. 17-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73686-050-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Living the Line Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021


A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end.

A teenager runs away to Seattle, hoping to locate her missing sister.

Fifteen-year-old Eleanor idolizes her older sister, Sam, despite their being complete opposites: Sam is outgoing and wild, while socially awkward Eleanor is known as Little Miss Perfect, always doing the right and safe thing. After Sam runs away from home, the only communication she has with Eleanor are three postcards sent from Seattle. Eleanor decides to trace her 18-year-old sister’s footsteps, leaving her messages and hopping on a bus to find her. But when Sam doesn’t meet her at the bus depot, Eleanor, who has no real plan, has to learn how to survive on her own while searching the city for her sister. While the close bond between the girls is well depicted through flashbacks, the reveal of an important secret ultimately feels anticlimactic. A major plot point relies too heavily on chance and coincidence to be fully believable. While the color scheme, cityscapes, and background illustrations are atmospheric, the manga-inspired drawing style comes across as dated and flat. The depiction of the fabricated stories Eleanor tells is intriguing, as are the themes of friendship, living in the moment, and maintaining hope; unfortunately, none are thematically strong enough to resonate. The emotional impact of Eleanor’s experiences is diluted by her at times humorous narration. Eleanor and the main cast read as White.

A somewhat entertaining, fast-paced journey that fizzles at the end. (Graphic novel. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-50023-4

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022


An exciting fantasy full of mystery and witchcraft.

Foundling witch Abigail risks everything to find her missing friend.

Legend at the Younwity Hidden Institute of Witchcraft says that 100 years ago, a monstrous demon took a student who had entered the Untamed Woods. Now Noreen, one of Abby’s dearest friends, is believed to be missing in these same forbidden woods. With preparations for the Samhain festivities underway and the Coven supposedly looking for her, most students are quick to dismiss Noreen’s disappearance save for Abby and a few of her close friends. After breaking curfew and doing unsupervised magic, the young witches get into trouble, prompting her friends to give up searching, but Abby is convinced Noreen can be saved and persists in her search. Her investigation reveals secrets and truths about the century-old legend that might help her find Noreen. Spooky, mysterious, and also full of heart, this graphic novel is an enchanting story of friendship and found family. Each witch has a familiar—an animal companion with its own personality—that adds to the depth and charm of the story. Seymour, Abby’s familiar, is a Sphynx cat who suffers from anxiety. The luminous, full-color illustrations are striking and vibrant, adding to the magical, mystical feel. Abby presents as White, with pale, freckled skin and brown hair; her classmates and teachers are diverse in race as well as gender identity and sexual orientation.

An exciting fantasy full of mystery and witchcraft. (Graphic fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305631-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HarperAlley

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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