Life of Melody
Sometimes a family can be made up of a fairy godfather, a beast man (a troll variant to be specific), and a baby they found in the woods. Or, at least in this case, a begrudging family. After a brief spat over who should take care of the child, Razzmatazz, the fairy, and Bon, the beast man, come to an agreement to raise her together, donning the guise of a perfectly normal human couple. Despite their initial hostility, they eventually grow closer and open up to one another, slowly coming to the realization that perhaps there is more to their relationship than just a simple ruse. Originally a Patreon-exclusive webcomic, Life of Melody makes its print debut with a charmingly domestic story about found family and the lengths one may go to be with the ones they love.
Mari Costa’s comic thrives as a humorous, and at times extremely emotional, romantic comedy. Razzmatazz (honestly, how awesome a name is that?) and Bon stand as the ideal odd couple, one being erratic, high-strung, and only a little awkward, and the other more down-to-earth, composed, and rational, though still able to comically point out the eccentricities of his partner. Their dynamic is one of the highlights of the comic, as it comes off as equal parts hilarious and heartwarming. Since the story spans a handful of years, we get to see their bond develop naturally over time despite the short page length. Due to the length, however, the pace seems somewhat rushed at the beginning, as Costa sets up their first meeting, co-parenting agreement, and moving in together all in the first chapter. Beyond that, the pace thankfully evens out once we see the two acquire jobs, make friends, and cement their places in the community as they find the best way to raise their daughter, Melody.
Costa expertly weaves emotional and comedic storytelling through her artistic style, whether it’s through expressive facial features or the lighting of a certain frame. When a character experiences a strong feeling, such as fear, stress, or anger, the panel is flooded with shades of red, making the character’s emotions immediately transparent and usually evokes an amused response. The same technique is also apparent when a character is more downcast, as the panel grows noticeably darker. This gives a feeling of visual diversity, as the entire comic is filled with a wide range of colors that perfectly capture the mood of each scene. The fact that the story takes place over a long period of time only heightens this quality, as it also gives Costa the opportunity to showcase each season in her style. I particularly enjoyed seeing the characters interacting with the lush greens of spring and summer, the rich orange tones of autumn, and the crisp blues and whites of winter. Overall, the use of color gives the comic its own versatile identity and only draws us in more to the beauty of the passage of time and emotional growth of the characters.
One aspect that I truly admire about this story is its LGBTQ+ representation, especially since this particular title is recommended for ages 13 and up. Typically, in comics targeted towards this age group, the characters in question are teens themselves, dealing with their own age-specific issues or even the ever present “coming out” narrative. While it is important for queer teens to see themselves represented on the page with characters their own age, it is equally important to show that there is hope for them in the future. Very rarely are there LGBTQ+ comics for teens that focus on adult protagonists dealing with adult issues, since there is the fear that they will not connect to the older characters or themes, or the material may not be entirely appropriate for the demographic. The only one that immediately comes to mind is Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, which is about two older women rekindling a romance they had in their teen years. With Razzmatazz and Bon’s relationship, it shows teens that queer relationships are sustainable and that it is possible to settle down and have a family, should they want to pursue a domestic life. It also helps that their relationship is normalized in this world, and that there are queer side characters as well. For so many queer teens, just being able to survive into adulthood is a major achievement, and comics like Life of Melody help them believe that they can make it there.
For that reason alone, I would heartily recommend it to audiences 13 and older. The story incorporates certain tropes that they may be familiar with and enjoy if they are interested in romantic comedies, such as odd couples, enemies-to-lovers, and a slow burn romance, as well as a captivating visual style. Librarians wanting to diversify their young adult comic collections or add more genre or content variety to the queer stories already on hand should consider purchasing this title.
Life of Melody
By Mari Costa
Seven Seas, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: 13+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)
Creator Representation: Brazilian, Portuguese, Lesbian, Character Representation: Not Our Earth, Gay,