Written by Michel Rodrigue
Illustrated by Antonello Dalena and Manuela Razzi
Coloured by Cecilia Giumento
Translation by Joe Johnson
Letters by Janice Chiang
Production by Julie Sartain
Associate Editing by Michael Petranek
Editing in chieferizing by Jim Salicrup
Published by Papercutz
the three cents.
This latest volume to the series of graphic novellas has young Nina wrestling with keeping her personal fairy Sybil a secret from her family and friends, while King Oberon and Queen Titiana need her help to save…everything. It’s a jumbo-sized fantasy adventure and a coming of age story all in one, as the forces of light and forces of dark unfold over a family drama. Really well done and smartly executed, though best suited for the more imaginative preteen readers out there.
Rodrigue’s story covers a ton of ground, as Nina and her backpack fairy go off with her classmates for a week of horseback riding. But family secrets come forth just as Nina must accept her role in the greater scheme of things. Lots of colorful characters and imaginative scenarios, almost like a Harry Potter setup for younger, primarily (but not exclusively!) female comic fans. While there are many a cute moment therein, the level of drama does keep things grounded, and Rodrigue’s approach to some Shakespearean names is fine and more than adequate. The level of answers given and plot threads tied off in this book are impressively done though, and make for a fine jumping on point for anybody interested in a fun story. These issues are generally self-contained, although there is noticeable continuity, and handled light enough so as to not confuse the young or anyone with a short attention span in general. And really, the payoff at the end is totally worth the huge buildup of this story, and even of earlier issues. Rodrigue clearly has a tremendous imagination, but just as easily writes some rather touching stuff.
Dalena and Giumento handle the art for the Ernest and Rebecca books too, but their work here is a very different style, shades more realistic though every bit as fun and energetic. With Razzi they offer strong panels that serve as windows into this small world where very big things happen. This story obviously calls for a lot from the visual storytellers, and they conduct their efforts stylishly and with tons of flavor. Chiang as well…her recent work for Papercutz has been some of the best of her long career, like the woman is finally able to really cut loose after too many superhero comics. I think there were still some awkward moments to Johnson’s translations here which may have affected the balloon flow, but again this is a large story with many neat factors to it, and the end product is an excellent package.
Like with much of Papercutz’s output, don’t be so quick to presume that this is kiddie fare. The many colorful personas of good and evil in this book alone are stunningly well above and beyond what passes for inventiveness at the big two publishers these days. This is a great work of fiction brought faithfully to the English-speaking market, full of originality and with very human characters in spite of the mythological make believe of the story. Your intelligence will assuredly not be insulted.