John Allison, creator of Bad Machinery and Giant Days, returns with a new limited series about two friends who have opposing views, but still have a lot of fun in their tiny English town. The good thing is that these two ladies are both priests… although the masters they serve are on the exact opposite ends of the spectrum. Billie, beset by car troubles, meets Maggie on her motorcycle. After a lift into town, a friendship is born, and Billie discovers that Maggie is a Priest in the Church of Satan! Can their friendship survive their obvious divide? Will either be able to hold true to their own beliefs and faith while cultivating their friendship, trying to attract new parishioners to their respective churches, and fight the evil demons coming out of the sea?

Billie just wants to help, and that’s what she’s come to Tredregyn Parish to do. After Reverend David Penrose gets word he’s getting another trainee Priest to look after and teach the ways of good after so many have fled for their lives, he doesn’t have much hope for Billie. When he and Mrs. Clovis, the live-in assistant to the Reverend and the Church, find out who Billie’s friend is, they are obviously skeptical. But, Billie, always Ms. Positivity, jumps right out there to prove that her friendship with Maggie will not affect her ability to bring new folks into the fold. Of course her first stop—teens! The teens aren’t that thrilled, but Billie has high hopes for their eternal souls.

Maggie, on the other hand, in addition to her Church of Satan duties, works at the local pub under the tutelage of Magus Tom Pendennis, the high holy in the Church. He’s also very skeptical of Maggie’s new friend, and warns her to keep her mind in all of the unholy business that needs to be attended to. Along with Warlock Brian, they run a tight ship along with the occasional orgy, of course, and all are quite taken with Billie and her friendly and enthusiastic nature.

In this story of the “moral grey area” in which all humans must exist, Allison writes and illustrates a beautiful story of friendship that shows when we actually listen to each other, we might learn something and have the benefit of gaining new and interesting friends that add something new to our lives. His illustrations are colorful and fun in his wonderful sharp style. These characters really come to life with Allison’s pen as he knows them better than anyone; his artwork is indicative of that. Plus, the otherworldly creatures that come from the sea are scary and cuddly all at the same time! Traditional panelling is the style throughout this collected edition of the five-issue limited series. And, for those who want more Steeple, John is also publishing their current escapes on his website. The coloring by Sarah Stern is exquisite—full of vibrancy even in the darkest of situations, and the lettering by Jim Campell is easy to read and follow with word bubbles placed throughout thoughtfully and intuitively.

This series is a delight, as Allison’s comics always are, and gives a whole new perspective to “love thy neighbor.” It’s not only a fun story to read, but also makes readers think about those in their lives who might challenge their way of thinking as well as opening up to others in the hopes of shared ground and kindness. The ending is spectacular and totally unexpected which lends a perfect endnote to this entertaining and thoughtful series. Just watch out for those awful creatures from the sea… they aren’t interested in your tea!

Steeple
By John Allison
ISBN: 9781506713496
Dark Horse, 2020

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NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)

  • Traci

    | She/Her

    Traci has been a graphic novel selector and collections coordinator for kids and teens in libraries in Arizona and Oregon since 2005. She served as the chair of YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, and served as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens blogging team. She previously coordinated the Oregon Young Adult Network’s Graphic Rave list, OYAN’s yearly list of the best graphic reads for teens. Traci is a member of ALA, YALSA, and GNCRT. And, she achieved her greatest dream ever by serving as a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

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