Creator: Kenzie Sharp (@KenzieWhimsyArt)
WHAT IS IT?
My Boyfriend is the Boogeyman?! is a semi-spooky, wickedly cute webcomic about a young man and his strangely familiar boss as their relationship becomes more than just professional. Dark forces and office drama are abundant in this devilishly fun series.
Think of your favorite office dramedy if it had a Welcome to Night Vale aesthetic.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Nolan is known for his inability to be scared and constantly optimistic attitude. Excited to nab a position as the secretary to the CEO of a company called Shadow & Co., a strange business with even stranger employees, he can’t wait for his first day of work to arrive. Things seem to be going great until he introduces himself to his boss, Adrian, and he’s met with resistance and an aloof aura.
Unbeknownst to Nolan, Adrian’s actions may have a much deeper meaning behind them, one he's desperate to keep hidden, and their shared past that only he seems to remember leads them down a path neither could have foreseen. Adrian, you see, isn’t all that he appears and the darkness that follows him threatens to upend the persona of normalcy he has created.
As it downpours the following morning, the simple act of sharing an umbrella on the way to work dramatically shifts the trajectory of their boss/employee relationship. Nolan is bound and determined to be a positive force in his new boss’ life, leading to a series of meet-cutes and burgeoning romance as they navigate this strange thing known as adulthood. Can Adrian keep their hidden connection a secret, or will Nolan’s relentless positivity break down the shadow’s sturdy walls and let light back into his life?
Sharp has created an authentic world that feels quite like our own, making the story relatable and realistic. However, the added touch of strange, not quite natural dealings peppered throughout, adds a pop of magic to the office-romance genre that isn’t necessarily common.
The story is paced well and the development of both the personal and professional relationships in Nolan’s life as the focal point of the narrative really shines. A great example of a slow burn that continues to provide noteworthy moments to hook the reader in, Sharp has taken the simplicity of office life and made it exciting.
The character designs are simplistic, leaning on the cartoony side, but they are expressive and downright adorable. There’s a playfulness to the artwork that is portrayed in their movements and emotive faces. Each character has their own style and you can see a lot of care was put in to developing the cast for this series.
The red color palette used throughout makes this webcomic stand out, it has the feel of a manga but the choice of a singular family of color instead of grayscale adds a vibrancy and unforgettable aesthetic to it that gives the webcomic genre a refreshing spin. On the flip side, the black and white toned flashbacks are easily distinguishable and offer a noticeable transition between time periods.
There’s an authenticity to the conversations between the characters. The way they speak to each other has a realism that grounds the story to its real world setting. They act and converse like actual people, which helps form a bond between the reader and the characters that makes the impact of the small moments feel large.
There is a handwritten aesthetic to the lettering for the first 59 episodes that really fits well with the sketchy style of the comic (it is changed to a standard “typed” text at chapter 60). The way it bends with the shapes of the speech bubbles adds a unique look and feel to the conversations for the beginning of the series. This style continues on for sound effects throughout the following chapters.
There are some key moments in the series that are done in a style that is stunning. The characters are filled in with solid red (or black in flashbacks) and accented by sharp white highlights to show minimal details - i.e. mouths and eyes - creating a style akin to shadow puppetry. They are extremely powerful and you can immediately tell the scene is meant to be important.
Subtle details like tiny hearts, a wide variety of speech bubble styles, and soft background textures really help sell key moments without being overwhelming or losing the main focus of the panels.
The small cast works wonders for the story. Instead of packing the narrative with a large cast typical in office-related stories, focusing on a main few allows for stronger character arcs and a more intimate read. There’s a diversity to their personalities and attitudes.
Sharp set out to make this series with a heavy focus on LGBTQIA+ romance, as she has a love for the genre and finds it inspiring. You can feel that passion in the way she handles the love story. She allows the relationship to form over time, it does not come across as rushed and you absolutely root for Nolan and Adrian’s happiness from an early point in the story.
The episodes are done in a bite-sized manner, which makes it easy for casual readers to get decent bits of the story in with just a few episodes on a lunch break, and each episode provides enough to make it bingeable for scroll-happy readers who can’t wait to see what happens next.
Though the story (up to the point at the time of this review) is currently focused on the normal day-to-day office side of things, the small snippets of something otherworldly seep through in perfect doses to keep readers guessing as to what’s really happening in the lives of the Shadow & Co. employees. The air of mystery and deeper, untapped lore is exciting and keeps readers coming back while we wait for things to escalate.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Mild language, some mildly scary imagery, and romantic situations.
There are minor grammatical issues (i.e. missing words in sentences, missing apostrophes, misspellings, etc.) but they are few and far between and your brain can easily fill in the blanks so it doesn’t necessarily disrupt the flow.
The lettering for the aforementioned first 59 episodes, while pleasing to look at, doesn’t contain any tittles above the lowercase Is and Js and some of the words can be a bit hard to read when speech bubbles are on the fuller side (especially for those who have difficulties reading certain lettering/fonts). This is changed for the speech bubbles and becomes much easier to read at episode 60, but it does lose some of its charm in the switch.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
When Sharpe sat down one Inktober and decided to draw a little demon and his ghost boyfriend, she had no idea that the inspiration she’d gain from that drawing would take on such a life of its own. Though it started as series meant to get her feet wet in the webcomic world, My Boyfriend is the Boogeyman?! rapidly picked up traction and became a fan favorite on both Tapas and Webtoon. The supernatural, almost whimsical slice-of-life webcomic is charming, sweet, and unafraid to be emotionally raw with its characters.
With its LBGTQ+ themes and soft art style, MBITBM!? is a fun coming of age, dramedy webcomic that deals with first jobs, first loves, and supernatural shenanigans. The ongoing tale of a positive young man and his awkward, bad-tempered boss is a delightful read filled with quirky characters and delightful illustrations. The series is shaping up to be a lengthy narrative packed with office drama, romance, and a gripping mystery of the truth behind Adrian's true identity.
The wonderful illustrations, stunning red-toned color palette, and down-to-earth story portray the rollercoaster of emotion that comes alongside young adult life. Ripe with awww-inducing, truly sweet moments, this fun and well-crafted slice-of-life webtoon is a must-read for fans of office antics, cute romance, and realistic stories with a twist of devilish darkness.
HOW DO I READ IT?
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