Writer: Ivy Noelle Weir
Publisher: Oni Press
WHAT IS IT?
A teen-accessible ghost story where the ghost is less “scary” and more a symbol of the stigmatization of mental illness.
Movie-wise, it’s kind of like The Others mixed with It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Due to her depression and anxiety, Celeste loses her job at the local library. A short time later, she takes a position as an archivist at the local museum, which used to be a sanatorium and is rumored to be haunted.
She starts working the graveyard shift at this new job and encounters strange dreams, items falling off their shelves, other items disappearing or being misplaced altogether, and other strange happenings. As she tries to investigate, her coworkers begin to be concerned about her mental health – her productivity is down, she begins losing time and she’s even found unconscious in rooms she shouldn’t be in without any idea of how she got there.
Is this ghost and her mystery real? Or just a sign of her deteriorating mental stability? Can she prove the ghost is real and solve her mystery without sacrificing her job and her personal relationships?
The story explores mental illness in a believable, realistic way that ties into the narrative without feeling like it’s pandering
The moral of relying on those people who are close to us is important for a book that discusses mental illness so heavily
Steenz' art style makes the characters endearing and softens some of the serious tones of the book
The characters all have very good, specific styles and personalities and respond differently and realistically to the story’s events
Minority representation in this book gets an A+
The main character is a woman who copes with mental illness
Most of the supporting cast members are people of color
On the topic of characters: by the end of the book, I was sad to say goodbye to them
The bonus content at the end of the book was interesting, seeing how Weir came up with the story and how Steenz’ style has changed over time
It's a great "haunted house" style story that isn't too scary
Definitely a good, appropriate comic for young adults!
I personally really liked the book’s size, and the spot varnish on the front makes it feel like a special edition (plus, Steenz signed my copy and did a doodle in it, which gets all of the bonus points)
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
If you’re looking for a ghost story that will terrify you, this isn’t it
Celeste may not be the most likable or sympathetic character for all readers (but does she have to be?)
I would’ve been OK reading more backstory on Celeste and the ghost who is haunting her
The ending’s logistics have me a little confused, but I won’t spoil anything
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
It’s not often we get to discuss mental illness in comic books, and this graphic novel does a fantastic job of showing the realities of it without dwelling or losing the story. I also have a feeling we’ll be seeing much more from this very talented creative team, so it’s interesting reading this heartfelt tale fairly early in their careers.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Princeless: Girls Rock/Girls Leadership Anthology #4 by Ivy Noelle Weir, Steenz, Susan Beneville & Brian Hess
LOW, Vol. 1 by Rick Remender & Greg Tocchini
Runaways: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona & Takeshi Miyazawa
If you like the art:
MINE! A Celebration of Liberty And Freedom For All Benefiting Planned Parenthood by various creators (including Steenz)
Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes & Selina Epiritu
Courtney Crumrin, Vol. 1 by Ted Naifeh & Warren Wucinich
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ivy Noelle Weir – Writer
Multitalented: Formerly worked as a critic, photographer, librarian, archivist
Dream Team: Met her creative partner, Steenz, in The Valkyries, an online group for women who work in comics
Very inspired by Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (I talked with her about it on Twitter briefly, and the exchange influenced me to read it!)
Steenz – Illustrator & Colorist
Moniker: Her full name is Christina Steward
Multitalented: Is an Associate Editor at Lion Forge Comics
Lives in St. Louis, the chosen habitat of a certain lovable comic book yeti
Joamette Gil – Letterer
Is a “queer Afrocuban cartoonist whose work centers around queer femmes of color and speculative fiction” (From ComicsAlliance.com)
Multitalented: Operates P&M Press, dedicated to “the creative and economic empowerment of queer creators, creators of color, and creators at the intersections
Deb Groves – Flatter
Does a lot of flatting work for Oni Press
Multitalented: Also designs for Gaia Online
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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