Comic Mini-Review: The Ghost, The Owl by Franco

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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Summary:On a cool evening on the swamp, a figure appears dancing across the water. A human figure, but far from a human form. A Ghost, a young girl spirit that seems to have lost its way. A good Samaritan owl decides to help against the wishes of his animal brethren. What mysteries does the ghost girl hold the secrets to and what will happen when she and the owl unlock them together? Will they find out what happened to her? Will she find her way to where she needs to be? What will happen to the animals in the swamp and surrounding forest? An adventure with the most unlikely of pairs, The Ghost, the Owl.

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★★★★

This was a stunning graphic novel with a simple but captivating plot about generosity and how much a single kind act can do.

The art is however what’s truly magnificent about it. It’s worth spending a good minute or two studying every detail of each page, or simply go back after you’ve finished the story and look at every page again to really absorb the amazing details. I’ve only read an e-copy but I would love owning the finished, physical product.

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Definitely get this if you’re looking for a graphic novel that’s not only good but also utterly beautiful. It would look stunning on a bookshelf.

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Comic Mini-Review: Herding Cats (Sarah’s Scribbles #3) by Sarah Andersen

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary:Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah’s Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.

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★★★★

I think when reading Sarah’s Scribbles you have to be in a mood where either everything is funny or your life is literally going to shit, and anything in between would kind of ruin your experience with these collections.

As it happens, I loved this third book so much (I’ll let you guess which mood I was in). The little comics made me laugh and the last part where she talks about the issues that online creators face online was very relatable and honest. She also gives advice to artists and writers on how to deal with trolls and harsh criticism, and I basically agreed with everything she had to say and found it to be a helpful reminder.

I wouldn’t particularly care for a star rating in this case because it might just as easily be a 5 stars or a 3 stars, but it made me smile and laugh and I don’t want to be picky so I’m giving it a full 5 because what the hell, I enjoyed it a lot.

Comic review: Fence #3

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★★★★

In many ways this was my favorite out of the three issues already out (but I feel like that’s gonna be the case for every new issue).

I can’t really make a coherent review this time but one thing I will say is that, if it wasn’t already clear from issue #2, this is really fucking queer and what else do you need to know really?

Things I loved (SPOILERS!!!):

🤺 We finally learn a bit more about school life! The different uniforms and dresscode for different events, the lack of privacy, the care packages, the awful food, who rooms with whom.
⚔️ Bobby and Nicholas being friends!!!
🤺 Coach telling Nicholas he’s the worst but also telling him he has potential
⚔️ Harvard “actually to blame for this” Lee
🤺 “You want me to tell coach we kissed and made up” NICHOLAS DO YOU EVEN HEAR YOURSELF
⚔️ I feel like we’re starting to learn a bit more about fencing which is great
🤺 NICHOLAS WAKING UP AT 4:30AM TO TRAIN AND FINDING SEIJI THERE
⚔️ “Do we need a line on the floor here too” Seiji pls
🤺 DANTE IS ALIVE AND WELL I’M SO RELIEVED
⚔️ Kally and Tanner are the real power couple
🤺 Also??? Kally is The Purest??? I love him so much
⚔️ BOBBY WITH BRAIDS I’M MELTING
🤺 Nicholas and Seiji doing the thing where they look at each other when the other one is not looking 👌🏻 good shit 👌🏻 right 👌🏻 there 👌🏻 good shit
⚔️ JAY YOU POOR SOUL HOW COME YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF AIDEN’S REPUTATION
🤺 Okay but that kiss was so pretty??? Imagine when it’s going to be Harvard in Jay’s spot wow that’s only gonna take 3837598 issues but I’m fine
⚔️ Aiden pls you could at least try to remember your hookup’s name
🤺 Is Harvard only being fake nice to Jay or????
⚔️ “I’ve known him since we were five” wow I already knew this but it made me emotional
🤺 Aiden casually hugging Harvard
⚔️ “He’s so good it hurts” oh Nicholas baby
🤺 “You can’t look at anyone else” OH NICHOLAS BABY
⚔️ The Bons gossiping are honestly so relatable and they speak to my soul
🤺 “So why is Seiji watching his match?” mmmmmmmh yeah Bons why tell me
⚔️ FINALLY SOME SEIJI INTERNAL MONOLOGUE and of course that’s where the issue ends cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool
🤺 “It doesn’t meant he’s…” HE’S WHAT SEIJI WHAT, good??
⚔️ I can’t believe Seiji, a Useless Gay, hasn’t stopped thinking about Nicholas for six months

Are you reading Fence? What did you think of this issue?

Comic review: Fence #2

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★★★★

Read my review of issue #1 here!

While the first issue was all about introducing the main character, Nicholas, and setting up the rivalry with Seiji, this second issue felt more like a full dive into the world we’re going to be part of for the rest of the comic. I felt like this kind of pacing was perfect for me, because once I get to know the main character and what he stands to lose or gain by achieving his dreams, I am ready to be given more information and I enjoy looking at the tiny but significant details that this comic offers.

And there is really a lot that this issue told us, directly or not. Let me go on a little tangent and say that after this I am truly, 100% convinced that Pacat’s style is absolutely perfect for the comic format. The uniqueness of her writing style in novel format has always been the ability of conveying information in indirect ways, and letting the reader do the math to come up with their own conclusion. This was especially true in Captive Prince, which of course it’s told in a novel format, but it’s plain that the same is happening in Fence, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

*some minor spoilers, don’t read if you want to go in blind*

In #1 we found out that Nicholas and Seiji will be roommates at Kings Row, and in #2 we see how they handle it. Which is: not well. The first part is so funny I literally almost choked on the tea I was drinking lol?? Anyway, we also see how eager and excited Nicholas is to finally be at a proper fencing school, even though Kings Row is far from being an excellence.

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Just like that, you don’t only care about Nicholas’s personal journey, but you also care about the school in itself and you want the fencing team to do well. After all, what’s a good ol’ sports comic if you don’t root for the underdog?

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A lot of characters were introduced and I love every single one of them. We have Harvard, the team captain, Bobby who is simply too cute to be real (yes I know he’s not real, chill), Eugene the jock, Aiden who is too goddamn handsome for his own good (and for Harvard’s), along with the three Bons (lol) and coach Williams (I love her so much, she’s so sly lmao).

Something perhaps more important we get to see here in terms of representation is how casually non-heteronormative the setting of this comic is. There’s no fragile masculinity, no batting an eye if a guy is wearing his hair in a bow and his uniform involves a skirt, and casual flirting and complimenting between schoolmates.

*RANDOM RANTY SPOILERS OF THINGS I LOVED FROM HERE ON* 

– Seiji claiming he doesn’t know Nicholas shrglrshlhs I knew he would and I hate him

– Harvard is such a sly asshole I love him

– “I AM NOT SOME FENCER. MY NAME IS NICHOLAS COX AND I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU REMEMBER IT”

– that height difference tho

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– “the captain shows no remorse” oh Harvard

– THE LINE BETWEEN THE BEDS LMAO THEY’RE SO DAMN CHILDISH

– Nicholas put some clothes on you’re gonna kill Seiji

– THE. DUCK. SHOWER. CURTAIN.

– Seiji’s PJs

– This:

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– “no shower curtain” gslkghldhgdfh

– EUGENE IS A JERK

– BOBBY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

– I WOULD THROW MYSELF OFF A CLIFF FOR BOBBY!!!!!!!

– BOBBY’S CRUSH ON SEIJI I CAN’T HE’S TOO CUTE

– NICHOLAS BEING SUCH A SMOOTH FLIRTER??? everyone is gonna fall in love with him within a week

– Tanner and Kally are the established couple we deserve

– I KNEW IT WAS JESSE WHO BEAT SEIJI FGDHHLDH

– Jesse Coste looks so good y’all

– Coach Williams’ wall of things not to say is THE BEST THING

– “Aiden dumped me”

– Aiden himself holy shit

– The three Bons lol

– Robert Coste went to KR??????????

– THE EXTON TEAM LOOKS SO GOOD OMFG

– I wanna meet the twins

– okay but I care so much about all of them so can we like, idk, change the rules of fencing so that everyone can make the team????????? thx

 

Have you read Fence #2? If so, did you like it? Are you tired of me talking about it? Let me know in the comments 😀

LGBTQ+ webcomic recommendations #1

I promised this post was coming so here it is.

These are all the lgbtq+ webcomics I’ve read this year (but basically in my life since I didn’t read any before) and they’re also the only webcomics I’ve read lmao. They’re not too many and I considered waiting to have more to rec but then it would have ended up being an awfully long post where I couldn’t even spend a few words on each of them so I decided to post it now with the few I have, which I believe are all really good anyway.

I will definitely keep finding more and reading them so I’m guessing I will write a similar post in a few months to update this list, but in the meantime I hope you’ll find this useful.

All of these are free to read and I will leave links so you can easily start them. On their respective pages you can also find out how to support the authors by buying physical copies and/or comic-related merch, so make sure to consider supporting them if you enjoyed the comic they put up for free.

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🏳️‍🌈 Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu 

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I think this was my first ever webcomic and I can’t think of a better way to get started on this genre. It’s a queer sports comic and it’s not only focused on romance but a huge part of it is about friendship. I still need to catch up with the latest update since this is still ongoing but I love it so much and I want literally everyone to read it.

Status: ongoing

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Starfighter by Hamlet Machine 

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I was hesitant about having this in this list because its tone is very different from all the other webcomics I’m mentioning today. It’s much darker and it’s certainly queer because it sees a M/M relationship but it’s not really about that, it’s more of a dark and kind of twisted story and it’s very explicit so it won’t appeal to everyone. It can be a little disturbing and confusing especially at the beginning, and I wasn’t really sure whether I should keep going or not, but the end of the chapters always made me want to read more.

Status: ongoing

Audience: 18+

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🏳️‍🌈 The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver

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This is a pretty long webcomic which is already completed so if you don’t like having to wait for updates this is definitely for you. The title says enough about the plot, this is very character driven and it follows the road trip of two strangers who fall in love with each other. I basically loved everything about it and the pacing really worked for me in the sense that I could feel the MCs develop feelings for each other naturally and not because the author decided it. The art is also fantastic and the dialogues are so funny it hurt. It has nsfw scenes but they’re always very well woven into the story and they’re not gratuitous.

Status: complete

Audience: 18+

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Rock and Riot by Chelsey Furedi

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This is easily described as Grease if everyone was queer. Characters are bi, gay, lesbian, trans, genderqueer, demi, aroace. I don’t think I need to add more to this description lol.

Status: complete

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🏳️‍🌈 Griefer Belt by Kali de Wild

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This is about bad people. These are criminals and the comic focuses more on their relationships with each other, but it also doesn’t try to justify what they do for a living or to romanticize crime, which is one of my pet peeves. The story is engaging and if you can move past the fact that these are morally grey characters who lean more on the “black” side of the spectrum, then you will definitely like it.

Status: ongoing

Audience: 18+

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

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This is basically the cutest thing ever and everyone needs to read it. The author is really talented and if you weren’t aware of it she’s the author of Radio Silence which I still haven’t read but I’ve only heard good things about. She’s also a very good artist and this comic is so funny and relatable you can’t not love it.

Status: ongoing

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🏳️‍🌈 Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill

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This is a wlw fairy tale retelling which is written for both a younger audience and an adult one. Kids will see what the story shows, which is two princesses falling in love with each other. Adults will also see that this is a story full of subtext despite its short length, but it’s also not less lighthearted because of it. This is a story that I believe you can read with your child even if they’re younger than the suggested middle grade.

Status: complete

Audience: middle grade (or even younger) and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

 

🌈 Tripping Over You by Owen White and Suzana Harcum

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This is a slice of life webcomic following Milo and Liam. It’s not too much of a spoiler since it happens pretty early in the comic (if you consider the overall length of it) but the two get together and most of the comic is about their life as an established couple. I really loved it and appreciate the fact that there’s never useless relationship drama and the two characters manage to communicate their issues in a healthy way. I 100% recommend it if you love slice of life.

Status: ongoing

Audience: teen and up

Goodreads | Read here | My review

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And here ends my list for now. Let me know if you’ve read any or if you’re planning to, and I really hope this was useful!

 

November Wrap-Up

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Well, what a weird month reading-wise this has been for me! I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been a little more relaxed with reading lately (in the past few months), but that was always because I was too busy. This month however, I totally feel like I was in a legit slump because even though I had many books that I was excited for, I rarely felt like reading them. But I did feel like reading something, and maybe it was the anticipation for Fence, but I was so in the mood for comics that I started reading some and ended up reading a lot of them (well, at least a lot more than I usually do). I’ve had these comics-streaks in the past but it was mostly for manga, whereas this time it’s been more for webcomics (they’re awesome and they”re free!), specifically for lgbtq+ ones.

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As you can see, I’ve only finished two novels this month (Evenfall: Volume I by Santino Hassell and Ais, and Gemini Keeps Capricorn by Anyta Sunday), and everything else is webcomics (yes that’s right, except for Fence everything else is available to read online for free!).

You can check out my individual reviews on my goodreads, but because they’re so many and there are really a few gems among them that not many people might know about, I’m going to make a separate LGBT+ webcomic recommendation post soon, so I hope you’ll look forward to that.

CURRENTLY READING

Given what I said before, it’s no surprise that I’m in the middle of reading another LGBT+ webcomic, plus I’m also reading two novels that I’d been looking forward to for a while.

 

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (sequel to Nevernight) came out in September I believe but I still hadn’t finished rereading book one, and because these books aren’t exactly easy to read I kept postponing it. I’m still only around 20% but I love it and I only wish I had time to binge read it within a couple of days but I sadly don’t.

And… can you believe that The Sword of Summer is my first Rick Riordan book?? I’ve been meaning to start reading his books for ages but I still hadn’t gotten around to it. I’m not very far into it because of my slump but what I did read was awesome! It’s definitely written for the younger side of YA but it’s super enjoyable by adults as well! I’m really looking forward to finishing it and continuing the series, but the way it is at the moment I’m keeping it for when I need a light read before bed or something. Maybe I’ll binge it in the holidays but we’ll see!

 

TV SHOWS

I started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine (I guess that’s also why I had less time for reading…ahem) and I love it! Jake Peralta is a gem of a main character and I love all the other characters too (Rosa Diaz owns my heart).

I also don’t think I’ve ever seen a more diverse TV show and that’s part of the reason why I started watching it (besides all my friends telling me to…and now I know why they did!). I’m pretty sure everyone else is watching it already but if you aren’t I definitely recommend it!

I also started Stranger Things and it’s possible that by the time this post gets published (I had to schedule it because I’m away for the weekend) I might have finished it, but as of now I’m in the middle of the second season and I love it. I’m also too scared to watch it alone so that’s why I haven’t managed to finish it yet.

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I also totally forgot to mention it in my October Wrap Up but I binged Voltron: Legendary Defender and it’s now easily one of my favorite shows. I’m just carefully avoiding the fandom though because it’s a mess and I don’t want anything to do with it.

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GAMES

I installed Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and it’s just a silly little game but it keeps me entertained for a few minutes a day and I love that you can add your IRL and online friends.

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Add me if you’re also playing!

I wish I were still playing Persona 5 but I haven’t touched it in months and I don’t know when I’ll be able to continue it so I’m a little sad about that, but there’s enough on my plate already.

 

Well this post was long but I really like including other things in my Wrap Ups whenever I can, I hope you all don’t mind!

Let me know how this month was for you and what your plans for December and for the holidays are, I’d love to hear that!

Until next time!

Comic review: Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad

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Original cover by Johanna the Mad and variant cover by Kevin Wada (the photo doesn’t show my SIGNED COPY* because it’s not here yet but thank you Laura for getting me one ♥         *you have to read “signed copy” in a very high pitched voice

★★★★

You might or might not remember this post I wrote when this comic was first announced, and now months later I can’t believe I’m already reviewing the first issue. Most importantly for my ego, I was right on all points.

If you’ve ever read or watched any sports manga or anime, this is a comic for you. If you’re lgbt+, this is for you.

Plot:
Fence follows Nicholas Cox in his dream of making it into the fencing world. His passion is driven by more than just the love for the sport, and this is what helps the reader sympathize with him even if fencing is something completely new to them (like it is for me).

Nicholas is only sixteen but he worked hard for the chance to be taught to fence, and when he finally enters his first tournament he’s introduced to other fencers apparently for the first time. Among them is Seiji Katayama, whom everyone else seems to fear, and for a reason.

Their first encounter leaves Nicholas even more determined to finally enter a fencing school where he can be properly taught, because raw talent won’t get him anywhere. Six months later, he’s shown on his first day at Kings Row, a boys school he’s only able to attend thanks to a scholarship that depends on his making the fencing team, and a surprise is waiting for him there.

Characters:
Nicholas is a very determined character, who will do whatever it takes to achieve his dream. His struggles are relatable and real and they stick with the reader. Even in just around twenty pages it’s impossible not to care about him, also thanks to a couple of flashbacks.

Seiji is quite frankly an asshole so far and I can only love him for it. This is C.S. Pacat we’re talking about, so I’m expecting a hell of a backstory regarding the hard work that got Seiji to be where he is now.

In general:
This a very Japanese-like first issue of a comic that will (hopefully!!!) lead us on a long journey into the fencing world and the main characters’ relationships. It sets the tone for the rest of the series: tension, humor, diversity and queerness.

When it comes to diversity, it’s already very promising even just by looking at the background characters, and even though we still haven’t met them all on the page, we already know from the previews of all the main characters that they’re all diverse and unique.

The queerness isn’t strong in this one yet, but that’s perfect. Think of all your favorite sports comics/anime. I’m thinking Check, Please! and Yuri!!! On Ice. The queerness is just there and it’s just another part of the characters’ lives, just like the sport they love is. These are the kind of queer stories I love to read, and that’s why Fence will appeal to all LGBT+ readers. It promises a broad spectrum of sexualities and gender identities, paired with diversity and a story about passion that we can all identify ourselves with. Its very existence challenges a world of male white allocishetism, as a comic written by a queer and genderqueer person and drawn by a Mexican artist, who have put pieces of themselves into it.

I definitely cannot wait for the next issue to come out and I’m loving how big of a reach this already seems to have. Definitely get on it if you were hesitant because of its hype: the hype was real and it was 100% justified.

Also, make sure to check out Laura’s Q&A with CS Pacat at the launch party for a few extra infos on characters and plot!

 

Talk to me!

Have you read Fence? Will you? Are you excited for it?