In this time of social distancing and no comics conventions, I have been checking out books from various small, independent presses whenever I can. That's how I came upon the two titles I am reviewing today, from one of my favorite presses Silver Sprocket.
That Full Moon Feeling is a queer, supernatural, love story about a witch and a werewolf who meet on a dating app. They go on a series of dates, but each one ends in disasters, like being attacked by a swamp monster, a necromancer's army of skeletons, disembodied hands, or giant praying mantises. Somehow, despite all these adversities (or maybe because of them?), they find a connection.
I loved this story, as it is very sweet without being cloying. I found a lot to empathize with a situation where two people just figure out that they are right for each other, and I loved the amount of character work done throughout the book. Both Suzy (the witch) and Jada (the werewolf) are unique, and I found it easy to fall in love with both characters. Also, although this book is clearly set in a fantasy realm, it is an authentic and refreshing take on contemporary romance.
The artwork complemented the story perfectly, with characters being imbued with lots of heart and emotion. Also, there is a lot of delight in the various monsters and other horrific denizens of this world, not to mention that animal familiars that Suzy associates with. In addition to all the fun imagery, there is also an interesting incorporation of technology in the storytelling, like the interactions on the dating app, texting, and the various group messages that Jada receives from her pack.
This book's creator Ashley Robin Franklin also has published a number of other comics, including the horror/romance tale One Million Tiny Fires. She discusses her career and work on That Full Moon Feeling in this interview.
All of the reviews of this book have found it delightful. Ryan C. wrote that it "lithely threads the needle between two genres that are by and large of little interest to me, specifically romantic comedy and the supernatural, yet nevertheless managed to warm my cynical middle-aged cis white male heart and plant an entirely unforced smile on my face for the duration of its 64 pages." David Charles Bitterbaum called it "a stupendous comic. It is very sweet, fantastically illustrated, and immensely cute."
You can find more info and a preview of That Full Moon Feeling here.
I was way more familiar with this creator's work, as Matt Lubchansky is an Associate Editor and regular contributor to The Nib, so I see a lot of their work regularly. The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook is a hilarious, long-form satire about Max Marx, a radical who gets a huge call-up from Antifa. Because of his past successes, the secret council selects him to become a super-soldier.
I love how this book amplifies a paranoid conservative conspiracy theory that what is a loose affiliation of political activists is really a covert, highly organized organization along the lines of COBRA. Their various training initiatives and sabotage operations are shown in nefariously absurd detail, but underlying the silliness is the serious counterpoint that in the police/political realm, such action is actually happening. I found much to laugh at in this book, but the humor is tempered with an edge about what is occurring in our country/world today.
Well suiting its subject matter, the artwork in this book is appropriately over-the-top, with shady police officers, fantastical inventions, and lots of bombastic action. I especially adored all the nifty gadgets built into Max's new robotic body. This book is an excellent satire that balances ridiculous and outrageous imagery with sobering social commentary.
The reviews I have read about this book have been positive. Brett Schenker called it "a solid satire that has fun with the absurd reality some people live in." Ryan C. wrote about it coming from a specific political stance, opining "If...you’re a rational and well-adjusted human being, then you’ll probably get a solid kick out of it."
Also, for those interested, Lubchansky speaks more about this book and their career in this interview.
You can find a preview and more info about The Antifa Super-Soldier Cookbook here.
Because of profanity and adult themes, I recommend both of these books for more mature readers.