For this batch of comic book reviews, I’ll chat about two fantasy comics, one for the middle grade crowd and one for YA readers. Both were silly, fun reads that I enjoyed and liked the art.
I read both for Wyrd & Wonder in May.
Wizard Beach by Shaun Simon, illus. by Conor Nolan with colors by Meg Casey
What do wizards and witches do when they need a break from the cold, ice-capped mountains of their homeland? They go to the beach, of course!
When Hexley Daggard Ragbottom, a high-strung young wizard, wants to put an end to the frost of dark forests he calls home, he seeks out his Uncle Salazar the greatest wizard of all time. But Uncle “Sally” has abandoned his old life for one of leisure, surfing and napping. Sally’s permanent vacation doesn’t sit well with Hexley, but maybe the young wizard is on the wrong mission. Maybe what “Hex” really needs is to learn how to chill out. (Goodreads)
Let’s just chill and get along.
Hexley Daggert Ragbottom leaves his homeland in the cold mountains to find his uncle Salazar, a powerful wizard, so he can help the people in Hexley’s homeland put a stop to the persistent cold.
Uncle Sally left the cold for the beach years ago and now leads a life of rest and relaxation at Wizard Beach, where all are welcome. When Hexley arrives there, he is surprised at his uncle’s lifestyle and that he has befriended their known enemy — the frost giants. Uncle Sally even seems to be friendly with spice demons! Intent on finding a way to aid his homeland, Hexley at first doesn’t see the appeal of the beach but later learns it is better to just chill and get along with others.
It was a quick, fun story that was also entertaining because of its silliness. There’s so much going on at Wizard Beach and much to do too. You can go ballooning — use a balloon spell to make yourself into a balloon and just float in the air while taking in the views — or play wand ball, which I think of as similar to volleyball except only magic can touch the ball to make it go, build amazing sandcastles or surf on a broom board.
The characters are also interesting, like Sally’s friend Barry Wonder, who’s actually a corpse kept alive by his wand because the wand doesn’t want to accept his death, lol! I liked how Hexley’s character develops from such a serious, suspicious, high-strung boy to someone who’s more relaxed, accepting, and open-minded about things and the many mishaps Hexley gets into at the beach.
I liked it. It’s detailed, and there’s much to look at in each panel. The art style can be as silly as the story sometimes, so you’ll see skeletons surfing and what looks like Baba Yaga’s chicken-legged house walking along the beach in the background.
I also liked how Hexley and his Uncle Sally are drawn. Hexley is easily distinguished by his big ears, which I actually didn’t notice until he got to the beach. As for Uncle Sally, the dude walks around in swimming trunks and his wizard’s hat all day. I got the impression that he only wears a shirt on special occasions, lol!
The art style actually isn’t one I typically like since it’s heavy on the inks and has so much going on in some panels that it feels crowded and jumbled, but I didn’t mind it much in this because it works well with the story. Wizard Beach, the place, seems to have many people and creatures there and loads going on, so it makes sense that the illustrations should capture that.
A quick, fun read that just about anyone who picks it up will like, but it’s definitely for middle grade readers.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I bought my copy and was thinking to unhaul it since I liked but didn’t love the story (in an effort to free up space), but I like the cover so much that I might hang onto it for a bit.
Werewolf barista Julie and her supernatural friends try to unwind at a party, but a conniving fraternity of fairy bros has other plans for our heroes. With one of their friends trapped in the frat house and the winter solstice (a notable night of magical mischief) looming ever-closer, it’s up to the amorous werewolves and gregarious centaur to save the day. (Goodreads)
I love Chet! 😊 ❤
Oh my gosh! Chet is my favorite character in this comic book series, which I picked up last year and wasn’t entirely sold on because I wasn’t fully feeling the story, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the art. I love the illustrations that much. And Chet, too.
If you’re not familiar with the Moonstruck comic book series, it’s a YA fantasy story set in a college town that focuses on supernatural creatures. The protagonist, Julie, is a werewolf. In the first volume, she met and is dating Selena, another werewolf. Chet, a centaur, is Julie’s best friend, and I think he met Manuel, a minotaur, by the end of the first volume. In this volume, Chet and Manuel are dating.
Chet loves to party (omg! Love him!). In volume 2, Selena invites Julie, Chet, and Manuel to a frat party hosted by fairy bros. But not too long after arriving at the party, the group runs into Lindi, a gorgon, whose band Julie used to be a part of. Lindi (being Lindi) causes a ruckus, so everyone leaves, or tries to. But those who ate the fairy food can’t leave unless a fairy allows them to, which the fairy bros don’t. Lindi and her band are trapped, so Julie, Chet, and Selena take on the task of trying to help them.
It’s all crazy shenanigans and silly relationship drama, but I enjoyed it all. It’s such a cute, positive, light-hearted story. And I certainly enjoyed this one a lot more than I did the first volume, although I’m still not a fan of Julie or Selena. They are cute when they get along, but I think they fight over the silliest things, which annoys me.
I love Chet! It was such fun to encounter this character again. His love for Newpals (which reminds me of Nanopets/Gigapets from the ‘90s) is adorable, and I just love how dramatic he is too. Cass, the prophetess, is also one of my favorites, and I wish we’d gotten more of her in this volume as well. And, of course, I love the “Ask a Know-It-All” columns and the annotated Pleasant Mountain Sisters comics (those were funny). I thought the fairies were a nice touch, and I love how tricky they are (you also need a fairy guide to get around a fairy house… or fairy frat/sorority house).
I love it! It’s so cute. I love the illustrations and the colors used and the layout and everything. The art appeals to me the most and is why I bought a copy of the first volume (and kept it although I wasn’t really feeling the story). There’s a softness to the illustrations that adds to the cute, adorableness of the story. This series just might become one of my comfort reads.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½
I really enjoyed this and will be on the lookout for the next volume.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Okay, so… I actually borrowed my copy but if you haven’t yet tried Moonstruck, I highly recommend purchasing a copy. The art is too cute not to.