mini-review · Read Harder · Read My Own Damn Books · Reading Graphically · stuff I read

Ladycastle, written by Delilah S. Dawon, illustrated by Ashley A. Woods and Becca Farrow

34466854Summary from Goodreads:
When the King and all the men of the castle die, it’s time for the women to knight up.

When King Mancastle and his mighty vassals ride off on a crusade, the women left behind are not at all put out—that’s a lot less armor polishing to do. Of course, when the men get themselves eaten by a dragon and leave a curse that attracts monsters to the castle . . . well, the women take umbrage with that.

Now, Merinor, the blacksmith’s wife is King, Princess Aeve is the Captain, and the only remaining (and least capable) knight, Sir Riddick, is tasked with teaching the ladies of the castle how to fight, defend, build, and do all manner of noisy things the men had done while the women assumed they were just drunk.

Novelist Delilah S. Dawson (Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon, As Wicked as She Wants) brings her first original series to the graphic novel world, and is joined by breakthrough illustrator Ashley A. Woods (Niobe: She Is Life) for a rollicking fantasy adventure in Ladycastle.

What do all the women of Mancastle do when all the terrible dudes they are married to/related to go off and get themselves eaten by a dragon and the castle cursed by a wizard? They do all the stuff the men were doing – but better, with more cooperation and much less violence. (The only dude left is the most inept knight who looks like the Santa Claus version of King Pellinore.) They take advice from a Lady in the Pond who dispenses swords, the Well-Hag Hagatha, and a badass castle librarian in a wheelchair to fight off salamanders, werewolves, harpies, and a surprising Big Bad. And they re-name the castle Ladycastle.

I really enjoyed this funny, rompy take on Arthurian legend-ish tales. There were a lot of riffs on Disney movies, musicals, and Monty Python jokes. The writing does hit you over the head with very obvious criticisms of gender norms/stereotypes, compulsory heterosexuality (maybe?, no one seemed to be in a happy heterosexual marriage but no one was in a non-hetero relationship, either, and no one was exactly bemoaning having no dudes around for sexytimes; it wouldn’t have hurt to put an explicitly non-heterosexual partnership or actual genderqueer character on the page rather than some implied coding), and toxic masculinity (all the dudes these women were related to or married to were the actual worst). But sometimes we need the blindingly obvious, though. I very much enjoyed reading Ladycastle and the art was excellent, very straightforward. This is an all-ages comic, not a whole lot of violence, no language or sex.

Dear FTC: I bought my copy of this book to read for the Graphic Novel Book Group at my store. It fulfilled the “read a comic from a publisher other than DC, Marvel, or Image” task for Read Harder.

mini-review · Reading Diversely · Reading Graphically · stuff I read

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm by Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn #6)

34227897Summary from Goodreads:
The first Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel!

Phoebe and Marigold decide to investigate a powerful storm that is wreaking havoc with the electricity in their town. The adults think it’s just winter weather, but Phoebe and Marigold soon discover that all is not what it seems to be, and that the storm may have a magical cause. To solve the case, they team up with Max, who is desperate for the electricity to return so he can play video games, and frenemy Dakota, who is aided by her goblin minions. Together, they must get to the bottom of the mystery and save the town from the magic storm.

First of all, if you haven’t yet been introduced to Phoebe and Her Unicornhighly suggest checking out this webcomic series about a little girl and her unicorn.  Kind of like Calvin and Hobbes, only Marigold Heavenly Nostrils is a real unicorn who cloaks herself in a Shield of Boringness so people don’t freak out when they see her. There are five collections of strips already, where we are introduced to frenemy Dakota (with her sentient hair and goblin posse) and Max (Phoebe’s adorably nerdy school friend) and Phoebe’s hipster-geek parents.

The Magic Storm is the first original graphic novel in the series. A huge snowstorm is coming, one that might knock out power to the town, but Marigold is certain that the storm has a magical cause. She’s down to only 1 bar of magic that she can sense with her horn, so something is using up the magic in the area. Phoebe recruits Dakota with her goblin minions and Max, with his science knowledge, to help her investigate.

THIS BOOK IS INSANELY ADORABLE. It puts a new spin on all those snow days I had as a kid. Also all the nerd jokes. Please to have all the nerd jokes.  Phoebe and her Unicorn is one of the best kids comics going right now (and when I say “kids” I mean “anyone who likes a good pun and nerd humor of all types and ages”). The Magic Storm is out October 17 from Andrews McMeel.

Dear FTC: I read a galley of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.  And you can bet that I’ll be buying a copy for myself and perhaps for the nieces.