Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery (SLG Publishing)

agnesheaderA young detective and her spirit companion Beatrice solve mystery after tragic mystery in this delightful supernatural thriller anthology.

 

 

136 Pages B&W; $10.95

(W: Dave Roman; A: Jason Ho, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, and Jeff Zornow)

 

 

Haunted Legerdemain, a city spun up around a graveyard the size of Central Park and held together by secrets and the souls of the dead, proves the perfect stomping grounds for little Agnes Quill, the young medium/investigator who, with her spirit companion Beatrice, solves mystery after tragic mystery. While not quite a true blue Scooby Doo kind of story, the adventures in this first Agnes Quill collection will certainly appeal to readers with a penchant for supernatural-detective thrillers.

 

The cover to Agnes Quill. Click the thumbnail for a larger image.Spiriting up from the mind of web comic creator Dave Roman, the man who brought readers the Harvey Award nominated Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden and Ignatz Award winning Teen Boot, Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery erects a model of Legerdemain in four stories: "The Mummified Heirloom" and "The Divided Man," "Zombie Love Trap," "Buried Homes and Gardens," and "Lost and Found."

 

The chapters are rich and varied, offering a truly diverse portrait of the city and its ghoulish inhabitants. Of particular interest are the two-in-one stories "The Mummified Heirloom" and "The Divided Man," which depict the strangeness of Agnes’s life, her living and deceased companions, and the trappings of Legerdemain. The touching "Lost and Found" sheds more light on the sensitivity of Agnes’s character, and offers some warmth to the city’s collectively grim atmosphere.

 

The flesh to this anthology’s bones is the artwork, which cements the quasi-Victorian gloom in a reality of desperately beautiful linework and richly dealt inks. Jason Ho and Jeff Zornow’s detailing is evocative and unarguably astounding, countered by Roman’s more simplified approach and the slick, Tim Burton-meets-Disney illustrations of Roman’s newlywed bride Raina Telgemeier, the artist behind Scholastic’s much sunnier Babysitters Club graphic novels.

 

With a collection like this, it’s so easy to be trite, to fall into the trappings of goth stereotypes, but here the characters are refreshing and the stories a delight to read. Agnes is peculiarly likeable despite the world that’s working against her; she’s formidable and tenacious in the face of threats both human and non. This dark mystery anthology is definitely something to brighten the Chrismahanukwanzakah season this year.

To get a taste of the work of each of the series four artists, click on the images below, and to read complete Agnes Quill stories, visit http://www.webcomicsnation.com/daveroman/agnes/toc.php

Interior art from Agnes Quill by Jason Ho. Interior art from Agnes Quill by Jeff Zornow. Interior art from Agnes Quill by Raina Telgemeier. Interior art from Agnes Quill by creator Dave Roman.

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