Award winning mangaka Taiyo Matsumoto brings pathos and humanity to Tokyo These Days as he examines the idea of finding one’s purpose through the lens of manga publishing. This was easily the most interesting and compelling book I’ve read in a while and the layout feels very cinematic.
The first chapter is titled “Today I’m Retiring for Personal Reasons” and this convention carries throughout the rest of the book with the chapters titled like they are calendar or journal entries. We get a glimpse at the inner life of Shiozawa, a manga editor, as he reaches a personal and professional crossroad. We’ll see the larger affect he has on his environment and its inhabitants dealing with this decision and how it opens this story up.
We find Shiozawa getting ready for work and having a conversation with his pet bird, who tells him it’s sad he’s retiring (he understands birds, but it’s not commented on.) He’s been editing manga for 30 years, but his latest magazine folded and he feels responsible. He realizes he’s spent 230 days total on this particular train getting to and from work and the scope of how entirely his life revolves around the field of manga begins to overwhelm him. He goes to meet an old colleague and we learn about just how different they are.
Chosaku is an artist who smokes, drinks, is overweight and generally overindulges in all the ways Shiozawa doesn’t. The dichotomy of these two is reflected in the lives of the other characters we’ll meet, but the thing they have in common is how they have devoted their whole lives to manga and how drained they are. Chosaku is still going through the motions, but Shiozawa points out his books have lost their shine and his heart isn’t in it. He wants Chosaku’s work to shine again, he loved that work. The rest of this first volume shows these men dealing with their sense of purpose and direction, but they wind up influencing others around them.
Liliko Hayashi was a young editor who looked up to Shiozawa and seeks out his help with a troublesome artist, Aoki. Shiozawa used to edit his work before assigning him to Liliko and the relationship is in bad shape. She is frustrated by Aoki’s hollow work and terrible attitude. Aoki is frustrated by what he sees as her interference and lack of support. They both hope Shiozawa will intervene and help, but he has stepped back and no longer wants to be involved with the field.
Their development will mirror the affect Shiozawa has on others around him; everyone in his sphere winds up asking larger questions about their commitment to manga, art, their lives, their purpose and the future. Shiozawa eventually decides to try and make one last book, one perfect manga that is just for him. It doesn’t have to be successful, there is no publisher supporting him, he’s just putting his retirement money into this idea. He decides to recruit artists and creators whose work he loved, but some of them no longer work in manga and he needs to try and lure them back.
Describing this book as cinematic is to say that there are quiet moments where the story is allowed to breathe and the audience can sit in the emotional impact of what just happened. There are wide shots of the skyline or cityscape to show just how small Shiozawa feels. There are small, everyday occurrences that fill out the background and give the world a more textured and authentic feel. The art isn’t what I would describe as clean, but it is also very intentional and highly detailed. It is a believable, modern Tokyo illustrated here, and it is very much another character in the story.
Viz rated this book Teen, which I believe is the right designation for it, but I think older readers likely will experience the book differently and more fully. There is very little in the way of bad language and a character smokes. Outside of that there is nothing objectionable in this book and teen readers should have no trouble understanding this world. The emotional journey of the characters will likely land differently with adults who have experienced some of the adult life experiences the characters here reflect on. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to libraries that are looking for manga that isn’t action, adventure, love or mystery.
Tokyo These Days Vol 1 By Taiyo Matsumoto VIZ Signature, 2024 ISBN: 9781974738809
Publisher Age Rating: Teen
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Don’t let its cute manga-inspired art fool you. Matchmaker, the queer slice-of-life comic book by Cam Marshall, addresses plenty of serious topics in its compact print volume, such as: staying safe during the Covid-19 pandemic; the stress of being unemployed or underemployed in a capitalist society; work life balance; and asserting and affirming sexual and gender identities.
In six chapters, the book reveals the lives of three young friends struggling through life and searching for romance, with fully realized side characters to round out the story. Transgender, nonbinary lesbian Kimmy attempts to set up gay cisgender Mason with the perfect guy. Meanwhile, Kimmy develops feelings for their mutual friend Marlowe. The relationships unfold at a natural pace while the reader waits to find out if Kimmy’s matchmaking will succeed. Romance is the core of the plot but subplots such as artist Marlowe’s wrist injury; animator Mason’s desperate search for decent paid work; the friends’ thorough efforts to protect immunocompromised Mason from Covid while others remain lax; and Mason’s sister Sam’s questioning of sexual identity balance out what would otherwise be a one-dimensional story.
Marshall’s art is in black, white, and gray. It is arranged in panels with full page artwork at the beginning of each chapter. The dialogue and images fit neatly within the panels and each enhances the other, especially in terms of humor which is depicted textually and pictorially. Exaggerated facial expressions and well-placed onomatopoeia give a fun, goofy vibe to the story. Picture a winking Marlowe handing a receipt with her phone number on it to love-struck Kimmy with a BAM! while Kimmy’s eyes spiral in a classic “knocked out” expression (151). The print book is about 5.5 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide, an unusual size for an adult section book. But it’s conveniently portable and surprisingly, the art and text are not negatively impacted.
The youthful sense of humor, timely existential woes, and art style of Matchmaker will mostly appeal to folks in the mid 20s to mid 30s age range. Recommend this charming book to fans of slice-of-life stories such as Giant Days or Wet Moon.
Matchmaker By Cam Marshall Silver Sprocket, 2023 ISBN: 9798886200294
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+) Creator Representation: Nonbinary , Character Representation: Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Nonbinary, Trans, Depression
In the future, safe long distance space travel is made possible by a unique resource called alcanite. This story features the end of that era as alcanite is running out and no replacement has been found. Ada, Mallic, and Haika are a team of scavengers looking for forgotten alcanite in historic shipwrecks. The work is dangerous, especially as the competition for this resource grows and unsavory people get involved. Ada finds a clue that could lead to an alternative travel method rumored to be used by her ancestors. Unfortunately, the inscriptions that might hold that knowledge have been moved off world by a wealthy collector.
The crew takes low priority cargo at the behest of Outher, their go-to mechanic who fixes their ship. During the long manual voyage, they discover that the unknown contents of the cargo is actually people who’d hoped to escape before getting stuck away from home when the alcanite runs out. Seems like the person in charge of their transportation wasn’t invested in their health and all the passengers, minus one, perished. Ada and Haika are able to rescue Hodge and promise to drop him off at the next station. When they arrive, they have a disastrous run-in with the wealthy collector when they discover he is connected to the dead travelers and has no desire to share an alternative to alcanite with anyone not paying.
The story device of limited resources is not a new one. However, set in the vastness of space where anything is possible, it does a good job of showcasing what makes a person human. Especially when they aren’t always humanoid like Mallic the octopus or Hodge the alien. The illustrations fit the story with muted versions of brighter colors, like the colors have dirtied over time. Detail lines not only define the drawing, but give the sense of texture as well. You can see that things aren’t what they used to be.
My biggest issue with this book is that there is no indication this is the beginning of a series, and the story doesn’t even begin to resolve the main issue of how an alternative to a non-renewable resource might affect people’s lives. This book focuses on character growth and relationships instead of the plot, which is not bad, but could leave your patrons feeling unfilled if this is the full story. Because of on-page murder, human trafficking, and other emotionally charged conversations between the characters, this would work best in a collection for older teens or adults. It is relatively short for a graphic novel, but there’s a lot going on.
The Hard Switch By Owen D. Pomery Avery Hill, 2023 ISBN: 9781910395707
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
“This book might seem very normal on the surface but like in any relationship once you get to know it you’ll realize this book is actually quite weird.”
This quote from the book How To Love: A Guide to Feelings and Relationships for Everyone describes the book perfectly—this is indeed a weird little book. Bursting on the scene with its bright pink cover and characters that look a bit like Easter egg-colored frogs, this book doesn’t exactly offer much guidance. It manages to feel a bit like a hug, nevertheless, with it’s affirmative language and assurance that there is no one-size-fits-all way to find love.
Alex Norris is known for their internet comic series, Webcomic Name, in which every comic has three panels and ends with “oh no” after a realization or complication. The formula sounds simple, but the comics have gained notoriety for being funny, profound, and relatable. How To Love contains a similar kind of humor—lighthearted with a darkly humorous core. But while Webcomic Name owes a lot of its humor to reflecting on our preoccupation and dependence on technology as well as our imminent destruction, How To Love takes a more hopeful, informative approach.
How To Love bills itself as a, “very different guide to relationships of all shapes and sizes,” which is accurate. What’s different about it is that the comics collected here offer quick lessons from a fully inclusive spectrum, discussing straight and queer relationships of all kinds, including asexuality and poly relationships. This feels almost unheard of; while none of these relationship types are given a deep dive, the mere mention is notable. Norris’s comics even brush upon the radical notion that someone can be happy as a single person and not lacking in any way, which is deeply validating to hear in a culture bent on—and even rewarding of—coupling up.
The book covers a wide range of subjects from crushes to consent in a concise package, tackling many different issues that arise when you are dating, starting to date, or trying to maintain a relationship. Among simple and silly illustrations is solid advice that mostly boils down to: you don’t have to do what you think you should do but do what is right for you. While not groundbreaking, it’s an affirmative little book.
Whimsical and wise, How To Love is reminiscent of Nathan Pyle’s Strange Planet, Hyperbole and A Half, the Sarah’s Scribbles books by Sarah Anderson, and other short, Instagrammable comics. As it does cover mature topics, it’s best for older teens and adults.
How To Love A Guide to Feelings & Relationships for Everyone By Alex Norris Candlewick, 2023 ISBN: 9781536217889
Publisher Age Rating: 14+ NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
Lord Hades, king of the Underworld, ruler of the dead, maintains that he will never fall in love. However, this particular vow is complicated by the fact that Eros, the god of love, has shot Hades in the face with an arrow! Since walking around blindfolded is a major inconvenience, Hades offers to grant a wish to anyone who is able to pull the arrow out and free him from the burden of falling in love. Who achieves this feat but Kore, the goddess of spring! However, her wish is for Hades to find a consort… what could this mean?
Lord Hades’s Ruthless Marriage, Vol. 1 is the beginning of a fantasy series inspired by the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone. The first volume introduces potentially familiar characters and keeps the story moving. Hades is described as the ruthless lord of the Underworld, but he seems more curmudgeonly than ruthless. He is fear-inspiring, but he never hurts his subjects or Kore, despite her status as his prisoner after infiltrating his inner sanctum and removing the arrow from his forehead.
In return for removing Eros’s arrow, Kore’s wish leads to a parade of gods and goddesses visiting Hades, including Zeus, Hera, and Demeter, much to his vexation and the reader’s amusement. Some of the visitors, such as Hera, attempt to aid in finding Hades a consort, while others attempt to become the aforementioned consort. As such, the first volume introduces many characters that, though interesting, are only briefly explored. Hopefully, future volumes will further develop the various gods and goddesses and other supporting characters in addition to Hades and Kore.
Currently, the story has a light, comedic tone. Hades’s disgruntlement at being pressured about his marital status is initially played for laughs. However, throughout the course of the volume, Hades’s reasons for remaining aloof and single slowly become more evident. The bigger mystery is Kore: why is she in the Underworld and what is her motive behind wishing that Hades finds a consort?
Ueji Yuho’s art is gorgeous. If anyone would like to look at pretty Greek gods and goddesses, they need look no further than this manga. Yuho has a knack for comedic expression as well, and humor is deftly conveyed through the art at no expense to the quality. Though great attention to detail is paid to the characters, the backgrounds are not ignored, and the art never feels cluttered.
The manga is currently being translated into English. It has a publisher rating of Older Teen, but adults may find the story and art appealing as well. The story is in tune with its Greek mythology roots, and many characters, such as Zeus and Poseidon, possess the same wanton tendencies as their mythological counterparts. Some characters, such as Eros, are drawn in provocative poses and wear clothes that leave little to the imagination. The popularity of the Hades and Persephone myth, particularly as it has been reimagined in current books and comics, will endear fans of the duo and of Greek mythology in general.
Lord Hades’s Ruthless Marriage, Vol. 1 By Ueji Yuho Yen Press, 2023 ISBN: 9781975369385
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)
“Life is made up of funny random moments.” For David, a twenty-five-year-old aspiring comic book artist, these words from his father resonate deeply. Serendipitous encounters, metaphysical musings, and difficult situations shuffle through the course of David’s life in Joshua Ross’s debut graphic novel Left Turns.
The story begins in a nebulous void as David gazes toward the night sky and philosophizes upon the origin and existence of the universe in light of eternity. He is jolted from his reverie by his girlfriend’s sudden announcement, “David, I think we should break up.” Cut to the next scene and he is carrying boxes into an empty apartment with his younger brother Ben following behind. After settling in, their father treats them to dinner as David reflects on and charts out the next chapter of his life. Random moments materialize in this introspective journey of solitude as characters drift into and out of his life: Jan, his co-worker at a comic book shop, invites him to a dance party at a club where he meets a new love interest. Katie McPherson, his childhood best friend and first crush, drops into town to attend her sister’s wedding. Then there’s Rebecca—his girlfriend and “accidental muse”—a source of inspiration for his artistic creativity who rekindles the flames of passion they once shared. These unexpected encounters shape and impact the trajectory of his life as he struggles to carve out a career as a comic book artist.
Fluid dialogue fuels the narrative momentum in this slice of life story that chronicles the meandering turns of David’s life, while characters intermittently drop in and influence his decisions. Dynamic interactions, instant messages, and intimate conversations punctuated by flashbacks connect the past to the present, marching to a rhythm of life infused with raw energy. Reminiscent of the minimalist style of Raymond Carver’s stories, Ross’s flawed characters unpack their emotional baggage with heartfelt warmth and authenticity. Flashbacks tinted in light chocolate brown tones, occasionally rendered through wordless panels, unfold methodically through the characters’ nuanced interactions and emotions. Conversations and narrative action depicted by expressive line drawings in soft cyan blue-shaded panels blend seamlessly to advance the plot. Speculative discussions highlighting the significance of art and artists and the inevitability of failures and successes—prompted by personal decisions in one’s life—transform Left Turns into an engrossing graphic novel that explores the oftentimes messy complications and wonders of life.
From working in comic book shops and partying at late night soirees to sketching artwork in the privacy of his home and showcasing his work at a comic book convention, David maneuvers through the ever-shifting landscape and vicissitudes of life. A fine addition for adult graphic novel collections, Left Turns delivers an entertaining and profound journey through soulful explorations of an aspiring artist, unraveling a multiplicity of twists and turns that accompany him on the road to achieving his creative ventures.
Left Turns By Joshua Ross Source Point Press, 2023 ISBN: 9798888760024
Clar Angkasa skilfully breathes new life into three traditional folktales from her native Indonesia, offering a fresh look from the perspective of her female characters. In these retellings, her female protagonists are the ones with power and agency as they defend and defeat attacks against them physically and psychologically.
The first story, “Keong Mas,” revolves around two competing princesses as they combat selfishness by employing magic and, over time, selflessness. When the proud one is turned into a snail and regretfully thrown away by her younger sister, she is rescued by a fisher woman who teaches the princess the meaning of compassion, friendship, and, ultimately, affection. This is done through flashbacks of the backstory and there is an element of mystery concerning the identity of the person transformed into the snail. The flashbacks are established with muted colours while the palate of most of this tale is primarily shades of purple and gold.
The second story follows two sisters as well, but in this case, they are younger, the best of friends, and stepsisters. Bawang Merah and Bawang Putih develop a deep attachment to each other as well as their individual stepparents, but when the mother dies, the beloved father becomes despondent and angry, so much so that he is dangerous to both of the girls. When they meet a helpful stranger in the forest, they are offered a pumpkin containing a fortune. This fortune does not ease their situation, but it does release them from the inertia and hopelessness of their father’s heartbreak. Along with the purples used in the first tale, this story is augmented with shades of green and brilliant reds.
“Timun Mas,” the final story, is about a young woman who is a healer and horticulturalist living by herself and selling her seeds and natural medicines in the market. One day, to her horror, she is confronted by a giant who commands her to plant a magic seed that will produce a “fruit” he will claim when he returns in 17 years. Reluctantly, she plants the seed in her garden and grows . . . a young baby from a cucumber plant. She names the child The Golden Cucumber, or Timun Mas. The years pass by much too quickly. But before her daughter’s seventeenth birthday, mother and daughter concoct a plan to defeat the giant and his plans. This story’s palate shines with shades of greens and browns.
All three tales celebrate the rural lush landscapes of Indonesia, local customs and traditions, and magical forces and strong female characters through the colourful, cartoon-like illustrations. The panels are bursting with flowing patterns, fonts, and dialogue, adding an additional dimension to the visual telling of the three tales. There is a feeling of joy interspersed with the danger of the situations the protagonists find themselves caught up in through, for the most part, no fault of their own. The swirling panels, the colours, and the expressive features of the characters all add to an enjoyable adventure for the reader.
In the author’s note following the three stories, Angkasa explains her rationale for reworking these particular tales, focusing on feminine matters and issues ahead of the masculine focus of the traditional tales. She briefly explains why these three stories were chosen for the book before providing the texts for the original folktales. As a storyteller I would have also appreciated definite source notes for these tales, but understand that she is providing the texts that she is familiar with herself.
Highly recommended for the intended readership of 8- to 12-year-olds as well as adult readers who enjoy a well adapted tale that, while including some familiar tropes and motifs, will possibly be new to them too. Perfect for school and public library folklore collections.
Stories of the Islands By Clar Angkasa Holiday House, 2023 ISBN: 9780823449781
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12 NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Middle Grade (7-11), Picture Books (3-8) Creator Representation: Indonesian Character Representation: Indonesian, Asexual
Whenever war is used as a theme in literature it is typically to serve the trope of condemning war’s costs beyond the buildings bombed and bullets fired. Simply put, according to these artistic endeavors, war changes people and often for the worse. War leaves scars on the body and the mind while also reminding us that people capable of love and compassion are also capable of barbarity and bloodshed. War’s effect on one young man is explored in Hound, a graphic novel written by Sam Romesburg and Sam Freeman and illustrated by Rodrigo Vázquez.
Specifically, it is World War I that serves as the backdrop for this dark descent into humanity’s baser nature. Private Barrow is a good soldier, but his new assignment has him interacting with fellow officers who have become much more than good soldiers . . . and much less. Private Barrow has become part of a unit called the Hounds, due to the shape of their gas masks, and their territory is a strip of land bombarded by mustard gas attacks. To Barrow’s horror, his new unit has formed a strange kind of cult that worships violence and they seek to initiate him. Either Barrow joins the Hounds or he is prey.
At about 96 pages of graphically told story, Romesburg and Freeman’s story doesn’t delve too deeply into the horrors of war, but epistolary captions representing Barrow’s journal does allow the reader to get into his head, not only as he sees what the Hounds truly are, but as he himself must do some violent acts in order to survive. Much of the book is Barrow trying to stay ahead of enemy soldiers and members of his unit who seek to either indoctrinate him or run him to ground. However, despite Barrow’s portrayal as an innocent, he must, as the trope dictates, commit acts that tarnish that innocence. A scene where he has to hide from the enemy is a particularly harrowing one.
As a book about the horrors of war, Vázquez’s artwork depicts a lot of graphic images of death and horror. The men who make up the Hounds are not just changed mentally, but physically. Their teeth are misshapen, their skin is covered in sores and lesions, and their howls are depicted as letters that flow across the page and into the readers’ ears. It’s a story that seems light on action but almost drips with visceral and violent imagery. Vázquez is definitely not shy about letting the red run rampant on the page.
The overall ending of the book is somewhat ambiguous, which may deter or captivate readers, but this book is, overall, a solid complement to an adult graphic novel collection. Perhaps it doesn’t cut deep enough to explore its themes of war and violence, but fans of war movies like Platoon or Inglorious Basterds should enjoy the story and perhaps be fascinated by the personal war within one Private Barrow.
Hound By Sam Romesburg, Sam Freeman Art by Rodrigo Vázquez Mad Cave Studios, 2024 ISBN: 9781952303784
Humanity has confirmed over the years that, while getting old is inevitable and, frankly, better than the alternative, it is not necessarily a pleasant experience. Sure, there’s the accumulation of wisdom, but there also comes the gradual breaking down of one’s physical body, exemplified in accumulating aches and pains along with the mental realization that the activities one could do as a young person are no longer possible. That seems to be the overarching theme in artist David Small’s newest collection The Werewolf at Dusk And Other Stories. But Small, through these stories, also explores other dilemmas plaguing the human condition.
The book covers three stories written and drawn by Small. The titular first story is based on a tale by Lincoln Mechel about a werewolf near the end of his life, ruminating on how much of a monster he can claim to be now that his teeth aren’t as sharp. The second tale, a semiautobiographical yet surreal tale called “A Walk in the Old City,” concerns a psychoanalyst who takes a walk in the city only to discover giant spiders around him as he descends deeper and deeper into a dreamworld. The third story is a reinterpretation of Jean Ferry’s “The Tiger in Vogue” (also translated as “The Society Tiger”) and depicts a particular kind of show featuring a tiger wearing a distinguished suit and made to perform in front of a crowd.
Some might remember Small from his award-winning graphic memoir Stitches, while others might have seen his work as an illustrator of children’s books. It is his aesthetic earned from illustrating children’s books that he brings into these stories. Throughout the book, he displays a talent for telling a story with pictures and words, never letting the narration take away from the eye-catching artwork. For those adults who read children’s books, or just those with a particular nostalgia for those books, their eyes and their hearts will be drawn to Small’s collection.
It is indeed lovely artwork found here. Most of the colors Small chooses are mellow blues and shades of gray, except where violently bright colors are used to draw the eye as much as show contrast. These and other well thought out choices are sure to engage readers. Along with the body of the wolf seemingly superimposed over the man in his younger days, the eyes of both man and wolf gleam blood red. The orange of the tiger and the browns of the Nazi uniforms also stand out (and it is rare for the color brown to stand out in such a way). The lines and depictions might bring to mind classical paintings like Edvard Munch’s Scream and, much like a classical painting, these pictures tell a story that goes beyond a few brushstrokes and colors on a canvas.
In fact, though this book very much looks like a children’s book, it stands out for its exploration of adult themes. Not only the pain of growing old and obsolete, but also living in a world where atrocities are common and even seen as entertainment. This book would do well in graphic novel collections wanting to show works that pay homage to a classical aesthetic as well as push the boundaries of the graphic medium.
The Werewolf at Dusk: And Other Stories By David Small W. W. Norton & Company, 2024 ISBN: 9781324092827
Shay Melendez is a human working for the Ghoul Agency, an advertising company in a highly competitive market of humans and supernatural beings. From Action Lab, Gene Selassie and Orlando Baez deliver The Dagmar, the first volume in this series of inter-office politics and supernatural corporate scheming.
The Dagmar unfolds in a somewhat episodic story that gradually builds into a larger narrative. With a quirky cast of characters who often struggle to mesh into a functional corporate entity, the story opens with Shay jumping into the fray to salvage a faltering corporate contract—bringing herself to the attention of the board of directors in the process. What follows is an escalating series of events as the Ghoul Agency goes to war against one of their largest competitors over a lucrative new contract. Office espionage, personal ambitions, and the threat of eternal banishment collide as Shay and her golem assistant, Greer, rush to stay ahead of a situation rapidly spinning out of control.
The idea of a paranormal ad agency is a fun one, with lots of potential for comedy and zany hijinks. It’s clear that Selassie intended to create a workplace comedy in these pages. Unfortunately, the end result falls remarkably flat in humor and storytelling. Most of the characters are underdeveloped, existing either in the background or as perpetual punchlines never given the time to shine on their own. Even Shay, who sits at the center of the narrative, is hardly better developed, despite her implied family difficulties and ability to command respect. The narrative, similarly, jolts from place to place with minimal development beyond the superficial: Shay is good at her job. Another company behaves unethically. Shay is the only one who can stop them—but not without the help of her friends. It’s a basic plot delivered in rough strokes and never given the chance to shine in comedy, character, or story.
Baez’s art also fell short for me. Stylized and cartoonish, it fits the unserious tone of the book well enough, maintaining distinct characters and occasional moments of supernatural humor. Unfortunately, the disjointed story doesn’t translate well to comic panels. There are never any particularly gripping moments in the illustrations, and I found myself skimming over the images as I was waiting for the book to reach its inevitable conclusion. Baez is not untalented, but this book is not a great showcase of what he’s likely capable of.
Action Lab doesn’t give an age rating for this title. Though there’s nothing particularly objectionable in the content, the book would probably be most appealing to older teens and adults due simply to its focus on the world of corporate advertising and office politics. The most engaging moments come from the fleeting humor of one member of the board of directors known simply as The Elder, a haunting grim reaper-like being who is always primed to mete out supernatural punishment. Even with that, there’s simply not much here to appreciate for an ambiguous target audience of kids or adults. I went in with high hopes and, regrettably, The Ghoul Agency‘s first volume just doesn’t deliver much beyond a premise full of potential.
The Ghoul Agency, Vol. 01: The DAGMAR By Gene Selassie Art by Orlando Baez Action Lab, 2022 ISBN: 9781632296177
Publisher Age Rating: ages 9-12 NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)