What’s great about fantasy is that it is a genre that allows you to do whatever you want. With the right storyline, characters, dialogue, and unique creativity, a fantasy graphic novel can take your readers on a journey that they may see themselves in. Writing and illustrating duo Alejandra Green and Fanny Rodriguez have done just that in their new graphic novel Fantastic Tales of Nothing. The ladies have created an energetic new series with a lot to offer to readers, whether it’s the inclusion of non-binary and diversified characters, its hilarious use of word play, or a world with hidden mysterious that are waiting to be solved.
In the land of Nothing, two races of beings are constantly fighting one another, the Human Empire and the shape shifting Volken Court. For now, there is peace between the two but that could fracture at any time. Amidst all this there is Nathan Cadwell, a common minstrel who discovers that he possesses magic from an ancient spirit named Lerina. He is soon thrust into a quest to stop a possible war and vanquish an evil entity. Lucky for him he has two volken mercenaries to aid him, the magical crow Sina and the tough wolf Bardou, and a being who he calls Haven who speaks the ancient tongue and may be an important key in his journey.
This graphic novel takes readers into a truly magical and mysterious fantasy world filled with color, well thought out characters, and plenty of action. The creators have crafted a vast landscape of forestry, deserts, townships, and seaports with hidden details that keep the reader searching within each panel. They use a palette of shadows and dark colors for panels that take place at night or in a dark area and bright colors of various hues for sunny days and magical actions. Scenes with magical forces at work flow from panel to panel along with any action that is taking place, keeping readers alert to any revelations or plot twists that may arise. As for the story, readers will recognize common fantasy tropes (a group quest, each teammate with a specific skill, traveling different lands, etc.) but they will appreciate how this story takes a different turn.
Most of the cities and towns are inspired by Hispanic architecture and cultures, with townspeople that appear Latinx, and Nathan using a few Spanish words during conversations. There is also Haven, a non-binary character who speaks an ancient tongue that the writers may only translate if it is important to the story. Other than that, their dialogue is kept in their tongue. The story also contains some humorous dialogue, mostly wordplay centered on the various lands and cities the group visits and the fact that their land is just called Nothing.
Fantastic Tales of Nothing is a great fantasy read for those who enjoy similar graphic novels like Amulet or Bone. It is a great addition to both public and school libraries, especially those with patrons in fourth-sixth grades grades. Librarians should also mention to their patrons that the duo Alejandra Green and Fanny Rodriguez have their own website with other comic series and news about upcoming and current illustrated projects.
By Alejandra Green
Art by Fanny Rodriguez
Harper Alley, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)
Character Traits: Latinx