Saddled with lots of rules and constraints but some brainwork—and no batteries—required.




From the Comic Quests series , Vol. 1

A seemingly innocent red-cloaked girl and her evil grandma aren’t the only hazards awaiting visitors to a magic wood in this graphic “choose your path” adventure.

Eager to undertake their “Masters of the magical creatures” exam, sibs Hocus and Pocus trot off into Grimm’s Woods in search of two vanished children—then proceed to go their separate ways to encounters with wolves, witches, and other familiar, if sometimes tweaked, residents. The intertwined storylines are played as a game: Readers choose either Hocus or Pocus as avatars; select one of three magical helpers; and then flip back or forth from one numbered panel of cleanly drawn cartoon art to another as options and narrative instructions direct. Challenges added to the plotted hazards include simple number and math puzzles to solve, mazes to run, phrases with missing letters, mini board games requiring coins and dice, and other tests. Game sheets (6 provided, further copies available as a download) are required to keep track of used supplies and accumulated rewards. Players with short attention spans may find all the record-keeping onerous, and too many of the panels are only transitional filler. Still, there are a fair number of cliffhangers, the level of explicit violence is low, and ultimately “you” as either Hocus or Pocus get to shove the witch into a bubbling pot and rescue the children. Hocus, Pocus, and the other human and humanoid characters for the most part present white.

Saddled with lots of rules and constraints but some brainwork—and no batteries—required. (Graphic game fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68369-057-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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When a young girl’s imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.

Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.

A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-13-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...


The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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