Writer: Bones Leopard
Artist: Kelly & Nichole Matthews
Publisher: Boom! Box
WHAT IS IT?
A world-saving adventure that’s a fresh twist on the magical girl genre.
Combine the colorful, sci-fi queerness of Steven Universe with the influencer commentary of the Josie and the Pussycats movie.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Five years ago, The Lovely Trio saved the world from an alien attack. They’ve since gone on to become a pop group and magical girl icons, continuing to save the world from the occasional monster attack.
Gigi, like everyone else, is a fan of The Lovely Trio and, since her brother Dillon's death a few years ago, would much rather stay in playing their branded video game than go out. Gigi’s brother-in-law, Shawn is able to convince her to come down to his café and begrudgingly help out. On her way to the café, Gigi almost gets knocked over by Mia, a tall, strong stranger who is luckily able to catch her before she hits the ground. Gigi is immediately attracted to Mia, but is unable to speak with them coherently before they hurry away.
After spending an awkward few minutes at the café with Shawn, a Lovely Trio battle breaks out a few blocks away. One of Gigi’s friends hopes to livestream the encounter and runs into the fray. Gigi runs after zir* and in the process of looking for zir, discovers a horrible secret about The Lovely Trio that puts her in danger. Thankfully, Mia comes to her rescue
Who is this mystery person, and what’s their connection to The Lovely Trio? What does The Lovely Trio’s secret mean for the earth they’ve been claiming to save?
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Ze/Zir is a pronoun denoting a non-binary person, similar to but distinct from they/them.
Leopard leans into the tropes of the magical girl genre only to subvert them and make storylines and characters that feel completely fresh.
Kelly and Nichole Matthews have designed delightful and memorable characters, giving even the mundane human characters unique and stand-out details.
Save Yourself! is vibrantly colored in a fun style that’s reminiscent of classic magical girl cartoons.
Jim Campbell’s lettered sound effects incorporate unique textures that enhance and complement the tone of every page.
The diversity of queerness is such a delight. No one ever outright states their sexuality or gender identity, but their queerness is inherent to them.
Included in the queer rep of this book are multiple nonbinary characters, one using they/them pronouns and one using the neopronouns ze/zir, showcasing the diversity within the nonbinary identity.
Gigi is a brilliant choice of protagonist, being easy to root for as an empathetic and relatable underdog.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
It would have been nice to get some resolution on what happens to The Lovely Trio, especially given Mia’s complicated relationship with them.
Aside from a few posters in Gigi’s room on the first few pages, there aren’t any references to Gigi’s love of roller skating. If it’s something she gave up after the death of her brother, it seems like donning her skates again would be a big-ish deal, or at least get more than an offhand mention.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
In recent years, the magical girl genre has seen more than its fair share of subversions, usually focusing on the magical girls themselves and the implications of having these powers thrust upon (usually) children. Save Yourself!, however, takes a different perspective: that of the people coexisting in a world where magical girls are not only heroes, but a dominant and inescapable force in popular culture.
Gigi is a unique protagonist for this kind of story in the sense that she’s not unique. She’s the average person functioning in a world where monster attacks are frequent and the heroes that stop them are worthy of worship and fandom. Gigi still has her world turned upside down by her adventure, but she remains a superpower-less human in a fight that has little to do with her personally. In any other story, Gigi would be the collateral damage as the magical girls duke it out and deal with their drama. In Save Yourself!, she’s in the business of, well, saving herself and her home.
On top of all of this, reading Save Yourself! feels like wrapping yourself up in a warm, gay hug. Queerness is ingrained into the fabric of the story, the characters’ queerness simply there, never questioned or discriminated against.
Save Yourself! is a colorful and fun story that centers itself in queerness and radiates hope.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Pandora’s Legacy by Bones Leopard, Kelly & Nichole Matthews
Shoot Around by Susanna “Suspu” Nousiainen
HoverGirls by GD Bee
If you like the art:
Toil & Trouble by Mairghread Scott, Kelly & Nichole Matthews
Moonstruck by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, & Kate Leth
Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Bones Leopard (@BonesKLeopard) – Writer
Much like the artists on Save Yourself!, Bones Leopard is a twin.
They are also a Twitch streamer, where they livestream making art and playing video games.
Kelly & Nichole Matthews (@kickingshoes) – Artists
Kelly & Nichole are twins who have worked together on a variety of projects for Boom! Studios.
Kelly & Nichole have also worked together on graphic novel adaptations of classic middle-grade series including The Magic Treehouse and books by R.L. Stine.
Jim Campbell (@CampbellLetters) – Letterer
Jim Campbell has been nominated for the Eisner Award twice.
Jim shares his vast knowledge of lettering on his blog.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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