We know how most stories are supposed to start. A child is given a choice to leave their home in favor of a fantastical journey that will forever change them. This is known as the “call to adventure.”
In Sarah Jolley’s The Property of Hate, that call is made by a sardonic carnival barker with a television set for a head. Still with me? Good.
The Property of Hate, like many adventure stories, features a vibrant and imaginative world full of wondrous creatures and characters. But unlike most adventure stories, our protagonist, a child known only as “The Hero,” has no idea what she’s doing there or why. Blithely following her guide (the aforementioned TV-headed man named RGB) into a realm where existence is literally dictated by thought and imagination, The Hero soon comes to realize that she is trapped in a place where ideas can actually kill you. On top of all this, it appears that this magical world is on the verge of collapsing, with The Hero trapped inside.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Monday, February 1st, 2016||No Comments »|
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you combined the rollicking, fantastical aesthetic of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, the subtle homespun creepiness of Roald Dahl, and all the zany characters and bad decisions of a college road trip movie, then you need look no further than Prague Race.
From the delightfully twisted mind of Finnish cartoonist Petra Erika Nordlund, Prague Race is the story of three friends (eccentric slacker Leona, neurotic rich kid Colin, and affable powerhouse Miko) who are unexpectedly thrown into a world of magic, danger, and intrigue when they cross paths with a group of interdimensional smugglers and their ambulatory pet shark (whose name is, I kid you not, Fishsticks).
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Monday, August 3rd, 2015||No Comments »|
Sometimes I leave origami cranes in places for strangers to find—in desk drawers, the windowsills in trains, or tucked in an otherwise dirty corner. The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg has convinced me that this simple act does carry just the littlest spark of magic.
The first installment of a trilogy, The Paper Magician seriously gives off the same stylish vibe as The Prestige but with the added bonus of a completely awesome female protagonist by the name of Ceony. She’s kind of like the magician equivalent of Elizabeth Bennet. Upon getting dumped in a crummy house in Nowhere, England to be taught a dud of a magical art, her reaction is understandably, “I’ve been shot to hell.”
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Friday, June 26th, 2015||No Comments »|
We’re all familiar with the stereotypical fantasy quest. A group of adventurers go out to seek their fortune, slay a monster, and meet their destiny. Too often though these kinds of stories are anything but entertaining, favoring overdone tropes, unwieldy plots, and boring exposition over what initially drew us to fantasy in the first place: exploration of the world.
Which is why I’m head over heels for Aatmaja Pandya’s latest work, the sweet and subtle Travelogue: A Fantasy Diary Comic. Instead of a cast of aggro adventurers, we have a small band of travelers who get by doing odd jobs in what might be one of the loveliest settings I’ve seen in a comic.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Friday, May 29th, 2015||No Comments »|
I love the idea of anthologies–getting them for one author and discovering others–but what inevitably happens is I wait for the starring author to publish their contribution separately as a Kindle Single or go to a Barnes and Noble and read through the stories I’m actually interested in, skipping everything else. But every once in a while an anthology comes out that’s pure magic cover to cover, and all it took was George R.R. Martin on the editing team.
Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love includes Jim Butcher’s “Love Hurts,” a short story from the Dresden Universe that promises to solve at least some of Harry and Karen’s UST, and Neil Gaiman’s creepily mind-blowing imaginary girlfriend story, “The Thing About Cassandra,” both totally worth the anthology’s negligible Kindle price. However, also worth reading are M.N.L. Hanover’s haunted house story, which brings some genuine chills, and a sci-fi classic about a middle-aged man and his alien love, reinvented with use of the internet, by Peter S. Gould. And of course, the pièce de résistance, a snippet from the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon rounds off this anthology’s offerings of bittersweet romance.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Friday, May 22nd, 2015||No Comments »|
We’re all familiar with the popular “tale as old as time.” A beautiful young woman is held captive in an enchanted castle by a beast who is actually a prince under a curse. Beauty and the Beast has been retold and adapted for centuries, but not many people know its origins. Its genesis was as a novel by 18th century author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot Gallon de Villeneuve, who combined several fairytales into a sweeping and detailed narrative. The version that American audiences are most familiar with is the heavily edited version aimed towards children as told by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1757.
Megan Kearney is a storyteller and cartoonist who is taking this enchanting tale and bringing it back to its roots. Her own beautifully gothic and bewitching version of Beauty and the Beast utilizes Velleneuve’s narrative while also providing a personal touch that heightens both the humanity and emotion of the story and its characters.
|Recommended by Marie Anello||Friday, February 13th, 2015||No Comments »|
If you’re looking for a fun coming-of-age tale that teaches you how to love yourself with a heft dose of fantasy, look no further than Henni. Lasko-Gross’s comic is a thought-provoking treaty on why it’s important for society to be less rigid. The main heroine, Henni, is a young woman who lives in a traditional village amongst fantastical beasts and beings (Henni is some kind of cat-like creature herself). However, with religion and other archaic practices dominating most of the villagers’ every waking thought, Henni decides to follow a different path–her own. She longs to see the world, and when she comes of age, she sets out on a wondrous journey to discover who she really is.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, February 4th, 2015||No Comments »|