My niece turns 11 this weekend, and in addition to making me feel like a very, very old man, it also is another opportunity for me to try, and no doubt fail, to find comics that I am not only comfortable buying her, but also something she would find interesting.
Which is why I am glad that BOOM! Box (BOOM! Studio’s YA line) is releasing The Last Witch Volume One this week (although it’s a few days after her birthday so I’ll get her something in the meantime). I read the issues as they came out, and to be honest it’s pretty rare to find such a perfect book for younger readers. The art, the story, the language, it’s not only appropriate, it’s also respectful of the maturity level of younger readers. It doesn’t talk down to its audience, and it certainly will entertain, but once again I am getting ahead of myself, so let me take a step back and make sure you know why you should pick up The Last Witch this week too!
Here’s the blurb: YOU HAVE THE POWER. When the witch known as Cailleach hunts the children of the village Saoirse, a brave and reckless young girl, will defy her father and discover the secrets of the witch’s tower! But when the Cailleach captures Saoirse and her brother Brahm, their lives are forever changed in ways they never expected. Now, Saoirse will have to save everyone she loves by discovering the truth about the mysterious mark on her shoulder – and embracing her secret magical powers! Conor McCreery (Adventure Time/Regular Show) and V.V. Glass (Doctor Who) kick off a new young adult fantasy trilogy that shows the greatest magic of all lies inside of us!
If comics have a future in the United States there are two things that have to happen.
1. Comics need to get more youth readers, and
2. The big studios need to do more to reach out to female comic readers.
See, the problem is that while roughly half of the comic buying market out there is female (about 47%) the majority of them are not reading Marvel and DC. They’re reading manga, and while there is nothing wrong with that, if Marvel and DC want to ensure a future market for their stories, they can’t keep ignoring this important demographic.
Now, credit where it is due, DC has started writing more young adult graphic novels, and many of them are very good, I still feel like there is a lot of money being left on the table when you look at younger readers, especially younger female readers.
And if they need a template to pull from, The Last Witch is the one to look at.
As I said, The Last Witch respects it’s audience. It’s not silly or goofy, and it has real horror elements that would thrill, but not terrify it’s audience. The threats to our hero are real, and very palpable, and yet it doesn’t lean into the gore and body horror that so often has become commonplace in our modern horror lexicon.
The artwork is a big part of that. It’s soft and gentle, but also staggeringly beautiful, in a way that is rarely seen in modern comics. The first thing that struck me when I read this book was just how visually stunning it was, and how much I enjoyed just looking at the pages for how well done the overall composition was.
The Last Witch is a coming of age story about a young girl whose body is changing, and serves many allegorical roles that younger readers are going to recognize. It’s clever and fun, while at the same time mysterious and spooky.
It’s just a darn fine comic overall, and we desperately need more books like it.
So if you have a younger reader in your life who you want to get interested in comics, The Last Witch is definitely the place to start them out. Pick up a copy of the trade this weekend, and ask your LCS to make sure they have copies of volume two when they start rolling out soon.
Until next time, stay safe!