Goldie Vance, vol. 4 by Hope Larson and Jackie Ball and Illustrated by Elle Power
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
There are mysterious power outages in St. Pascal, Florida and the town is awash with ghost rumors.16-year-old part-time valet and persistent amateur detective Goldie Vance determines that the power outages occur when the Peanut Butter Boys’ hit song hits the radio airwaves. Goldie attributes this troubling coincidence to Ms. Villain, an LA music manager who is in town for a major show and appears to have stolen the heart of Goldie’s girl Diane by offering her an industry job. Goldie’s detective work and her mission to catch Ms. Villain has a deeply personal motive.
This series stands out for its fun and fast-moving plotlines along with its use of pastel color and soft shading to evoke the backdrop of 1960s Florida. Goldie is a satisfying character to relate to and cheer on, even as she fumbles in her relationships. Readers need not read the series in order to get a mystery and a satisfyingly wacky closure to it, but those who are loyal to the series will get a better sense of character motives, backstories, and recurring problems waiting in the wings for future issues.
This title will appeal most to younger teens who have aged out of children’s mysteries like Amulet but who might not yet be ready for some of the darker comics intended for older teens.
Lost Soul, Be at Peace by Maggie Thrash
Publication Date: October 9, 2018
In this autobiographical comic, Maggie Thrash writes about her life during eleventh grade. As she struggles with her slipping grades, she is also dealing with coming out, and finding where she fits in school. Her home life is equally frustrating with her over anxious mother and overworked dad who is a federal judge. Maggie’s one solace is her beloved cat Tommi, who one day goes missing, inexplicably inside her own house. As she searches, she may or may not also be seeing a ghost with whom she comes to share her thoughts and fears.
This graphic memoir does a nice job of highlighting the difficulties of teenage life, and Maggie’s struggles are very relatable. The ghost adds a bit of magical realism to the story, giving it a dream like quality which mirrors Maggie’s feelings of depression and ennui very well. Thrash is able to capture so many different emotions with the line of her pen, and teens will be drawn in to the prose through her art.
Those familiar with Thrash’s first graphic memoir Honor Girl will love the continuation of her story. Also a good pick for fans of Nicole J. Georges’ Fetch, and Tillie Walden’s Spinning.
Eleanor & the Egret by John Layman, Illustrated by Sam Kieth
Publication Date: March 13, 2018
Eleanor and her talking pet Egret, Ellis are art thieves. But not to make money, it’s purely to feed Ellis, all he eats is art. They also only steal artwork from the wildly popular abstract artist, Anastasia Rue. When Ellis accidentally leaves a feather behind at the scene of a heist, it’s almost the end of the road for them. There’s a reason why they only steal Rue’s work though and it helps them to get away with their crimes.
This is a unique graphic novel. The artwork is reminiscent of older comics, but it’s layout is original. The story is a little film noir with magical elements. Eleanor is a quirky, strong character on a mission to correct how she was wronged in the past and her pet Egret, Ellis adds a bit of comic relief. It has broad appeal since the characters and setting are ageless, there is no profanity or sexual innuendo and very little violence. Plus who doesn’t love a heist story, especially one with a purpose.
Fans of John Layman’s previous series, Chew, that he wrote and illustrated will find the same sense of humor and unique storyline, but with a happier, more whimsical approach.