Cartoonist: Sas Milledge
Publisher: Boom! Box
WHAT IS IT?
A fantasy story about a cursed town and the girls who risk everything to save it.
Think the magical energy of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets the pastoral vibes of Hayo Miyazaki.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The town of Haresden is tipping into chaos when Jo Manalo approaches the granddaughter of the town witch, Orla O’Reilly, for help. Orla has recently returned to her hometown after the passing of her grandmother, Mamo.
Orla is reluctant to help Jo, whose house is being plagued by a poltergeist, but seems to be persuaded by a moth familiar.
When Jo takes Orla back to her home, the two find that the poltergeist is a bit of Mamo herself. Her mislaid bones are the source of the chaos that has descended on the town and their relationship with the fae. With Jo’s help, Orla must properly bury Mamo’s bones before Haresden is reclaimed by the local magic.
Will Jo and Orla lay the bones to rest in time? And how and why were they scattered in the first place?
Milledge skillfully weaves in worldbuilding and rules of the magic system as a way for Jo to understand and get to know Orla, which avoids long, info-dumpy monologues.
The art captures motion beautifully. You can almost feel the breeze.
The colors Milledge chose are peacefully pastoral and the technique gives off an almost watercolor look. The characters’ rosy cheeks are a particularly sweet touch.
The Milledge's sound effects are often color-coordinated to match whatever is making the sound, which both adds subtlety to the letters and effectively communicates the sound.
It’s delightful to watch the grumpy/sunshine dynamic between Jo and Orla unfold. The two have delightful chemistry.
The magic system is made up of metaphors, which makes for stunning prose.
Though we only see Haresden in this story, the writing and art feel expansive enough to inform a larger world.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The story’s themes focus heavily on family and relationships, and Jo’s family is integral to her character, but they don’t get a whole lot of time on the page. It would have been nice to get just a bit more of Jo’s family in the story.
When reading as a trade paperback, each chapter still has its little “previously on” caption carried over from serialization. These can be both endearing and break the tone when you read the book all at once.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
There’s a softness to Mamo that pulls you in immediately. That’s not to say the story is without action or tension–those elements are certainly there–but there’s gentleness on almost every page. This softness permeates every piece of the comic: the colors, the art, the story, the letters.
At its core, this book is about home, boundaries, and all the complicated feelings they can bring. In life, Mamo hoarded knowledge and power, passing magic only along to Orla, whom she isolated and eventually pushed away. In death, her bones cause chaos for Haresden. Orla must bury them to not only save Haresden but find closure for herself, drawing a boundary both figuratively and literally (the bones are laid to rest at the edges of Haresden) between herself and her grandmother. At the same time, Jo is and always has been at home in Haresden. Her family is a welcoming and joyful presence even in the midst of the chaos Mamo has caused. The girls function as perfect foils for each other, exploring different sides of the themes.
Mamo is a lovely, cozy read perfect for fans of all-ages fantasy. Read it on a breezy summer day and feel the magic for yourself.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Les Amis de l'ABC October Comics by Sas Milledge
Sparrowhawk by Delilah S. Dawson & Matais Basia
Poison Ivy: Thorns by Kody Keplinger & Sara Kipin
If you like the art:
The Lost Carnival by Michael Moreci & Sas Milledge
The Last Witch by Conor McCreery & V.V. Glass
Pixels of You by Anath Hirsh, Yuko Ota, & J.R. Doyle
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Sas Milledge (@sasmilledge) – Creator
Mamo is Milledge’s debut original graphic novel.
She’s based in Melbourne, Australia.
She has a cat named Website.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Boom! Box characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Boom! Box or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.